Last night's viewing: The Great Comic Relief Bake-Off, BBC2; Wild Things, Channel 4
Devotees of The Great British Bake-Off will be thrilled that it's back for a four-night run so soon after the last series. But they may be rattled to find that the traditional recipe that made it so appealing has been messed with. Everyone knows that a real Great British Bake-Off – the sort of Great British Bake-Off that your grandma used to make – should never, ever, ever have celebrities in it.
That's not what it's about, after all. It's about ordinary people, often shy people, discovering that they have a talent that matters to others. It's not about hot-house flowers, it's about buds unfurling. And it's not about competitive showing off. It's about coaxing the under-confident into the limelight. Real fans know as well that a real Great British Bake-Off must contain a minimum percentage of Sue Perkins. A Great British Bake-Off without Sue Perkins is like an Eccles cake without currants. And yet both of these offences against precedent were committed by The Great Comic Relief Bake-Off.
The excuse, as the title reveals, was charidee, that universal absolution. Every night, four "well-known personalities" take on the traditional GBBO challenges in the hope that they'll encourage viewers at home to bake for good causes or, failing that, make a contribution. Mel Giedroyc presents, her weakness for dreadful puns unalleviated by the presence of Sue or – somebody should quietly tell her – the arch way in which she signals to us that she knows how dreadful they are. And, as usual, Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry are on hand to judge and raise an eyebrow. The bakers themselves, all comedians in this first episode, have clearly not been chosen because of a private passion for baking. Jo Brand's method of softening her butter was to sit on it, like a large hen hatching a rectangular egg. Ingrid Oliver completely forgot to add the raising agent to one of her sponge cakes. And her comedy partner, Lorna Watson, looked at one point as if she was making wallpaper paste rather than pastry. I suppose it will do in the absence of the real thing, and the cause is a good one, as a short film about a Ghanaian project that teaches women to bake bread underlined. But it still didn't taste quite right.
I don't fully understand why Channel 4 has decided that it's time to put right its long neglect of botany, but the result, Wild Things, is very funny. Here, too, the title tells you what's up. Whoever has commissioned this show knows that plants and flowers, however appealing they are to many viewers, aren't exactly edgy as a subject matter. So they've bent over backwards to inject a little youth excitement into British flora. You could call it gilding the lily, I suppose, but for the fact that it isn't gilt they're using but a kind of Instagram cocktail of hard rock on the soundtrack and modishly filtered inserts, complete with lens flare and artful lack of focus.
They also have Chris Myers, an enthusiastic young man whose screen presence appears to be modelled on The Fast Show's excitable teenager. In fact, at times it's positively uncanny. He grew up, you think, went to university to study biology and now he's back, striding along, still sweetly amazed by the world. "What's bonkers about Danish scurvy grass is that it's a plant that grows on the coast!" exclaimed Chris, as he wandered down the central reservation of a motorway (it was closed at the time) looking at thick clumps of the Danish invader. They then laid on an experiment in a sealed sound stage to show that a speeding car will suck seeds along in its wake: "It's like a mini TORNADO!" shouted Chris happily, as model Danish scurvy grass seeds swirled along a model road. Bless.
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