Who would have thought that a television show featuring amateur bakers gazing anxiously through closed oven doors would be such a hit but this wholesome, feel-good, mouth-watering series is back on our screens with its tried and tested recipe for success.
The first episode had all the ingredients for classic Bake Off viewing. We were introduced to this year’s contestants that included a fireman channelling the pen-behind-the-ear approach, made popular by last year’s finalist, builder Richard Burr. There was the homely grandmother who bakes every day for her cake-fuelled family. The trainee anaesthetist who was so nervous he couldn’t stop shaking and Paul the straight-faced prison warder with an uncanny resemblance to the show’s other Paul, judge Paul Hollywood.
The series kicked off with cake week with the usual mixture of success, disaster and, of course tears. The contestants got their first taste of the Hollywood stare, Mary Berry’s raised eyebrows and Mel and Sue’s plethora of puns. Someone, of course, had to be the first to leave the show and this year the dubious honour fell to musician Stu who, in Mary Berry’s words, failed to get started. His madeira cake failed to rise to the occasion, while his showstopper black forest gateau certainly stopped the show for him.
9.3 million viewers watched the first episode and Ladbrokes have already suspended betting on the show’s winner after suspicious bets around one contestant. A nation is, once again, gripped by baking fever.