Spoiler alert: TV review - The Great British Bake Off Final, too much sugar and not enough spice

Ultimately, this show is never a one-horse race

Raymond Blanc should stick to making those delicious chocolate eclairs. His Twitter tip for the winner (and apparent spoiler) on Monday proved unfounded. In the end, the winner of The Great British Bake Off 2013 wasn't headline-hogger Ruby Tandoh, but Frances Quinn, the 31-year-old fashion designer from Leicestershire who saved all her attention-grabbing flourishes for the cakes themselves.

Not that last night's fourth season finale required a patriotic Twitter storm to pull in its estimated 8 million viewers. The viewing figures have grown steadily since the first season became a sleeper hit in 2010; this year's finalists were whittled down from a record 13,000 applicants; there are now 14 international spin-offs and it was announced last week that series five will be screened on BBC One where an even bigger potential audience awaits. Don't let its dainty affect fool you, GBBO is a fearsome behemoth of popular television.

Unlike some other TV talent shows, it doesn't rely on heavy-handed sob stories to secure our sympathy. Last night a VT segment gave us rare insight into the home lives of "the lady finalists" (as co-presenter Mel insists on calling them) and there wasn't a terminally ill granny in sight. We learnt instead that Frances is the youngest of five, that Kimberly has an nice boyfriend called Giuseppe and that Ruby did most of her practice cooks in the scummy kitchen at student halls.

These contestants aren't desperate showboaters or exploited oddballs, they're just ordinary women with an extraordinary passion for baking. So pity the poor showbiz journos who wasted words on attempts to turn Ruby into a hate figure. Not only did the 21-year-old always seem undeserving of animosity, she was gloriously impervious to it and remained her peculiar curmudgeonly self right to the end. Last night's vintage Ruby whinge even had a note of self-parody: "I'm up against design queen Frances and here I am! I can't compete with Frances!" she wailed while deftly completing the flawless lattice work on her picnic pie.

Meanwhile, GBBO's coolest cucumber Kimberly was confronting a genuine baking catastrophe with characteristic sangfroid. Despite it's depressing name, her 'Chicken and Pig Pie' sounded quite delicious in theory. In practice, not so much. Even the most unrepentant meat eater doesn't want to be taunted with cutesy piglet-shaped decorations on a pork pie. Kimberly only needed a quiet moment of reflection in the wildflower field, before she bounced back with a challenge-winning pretzel. ""I'm beginning to feel that the outside doesn't reflect the inside" mused Paul later as he sliced into Kimberly's uninspiring wedding cake to reveal an orange and pistachio chequerboard interior - a metaphor for the inscrutable woman herself, perhaps?

Frances rounded out the show with her own moment of glory, a Midsummer Night's Dream wedding cake decorated with a confetti of beetroot hearts and dried pineapple flowers. It was both a reminder that her much-talked of creativity had been responsible for this series' big 'wow' moments and a justification for her win. She made a worthy winner, but in a final as evenly matched as this, so too would have either Kimberly or Ruby.

Ultimately, The Great British Bake Off  is never a one-horse race, it's a dark-horse race, making the show itself a gentle, schoolmarmish admonishment to those brasher TV talent shows. They seem to believe that only humiliating contestants and exposing their private lives will keep the bloodthirsty TV audience happy. We're much nicer than that really, and the proof is in the pudding.

Frances Quinn crowned winner of Great British Bake Off 2013

Great British Bake Off winners: Where are they now?  

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
Arts and Entertainment
On The Apprentice, “serious” left the room many moons ago and yet still we watch

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from David Ayer's 'Fury'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift performs at the 2014 iHeart Radio Music Festival
music review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Boy George performing with Culture Club at Heaven

musicReview: Culture Club performs live for first time in 12 years

Arts and Entertainment
Laura Wood, winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing
books

Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search

Arts and Entertainment
Pulling the strings: Spira Mirabilis

music
Arts and Entertainment
Neville's Island at Duke of York's theatre
musicReview: The production has been cleverly cast with a quartet of comic performers best known for the work on television
Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol

art
Arts and Entertainment
Lynda Bellingham stars in her last Oxo advert with on-screen husband Michael Redfern

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman

film
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Minchin portrait
For a no-holds-barred performer who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, Tim Minchin is surprisingly gentle
Arts and Entertainment
Clara takes the lead in 'Flatline' while the Doctor remains in the Tardis
tvReview: The 'Impossible Girl' earns some companion stripes... but she’s still annoying in 'Dr Who, Flatline'
Arts and Entertainment
Joy Division photographed around Waterloo Road, Stockport, near Strawberry Studios. The band are Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Stephen Morris (drums and percussion), Ian Curtis (vocals and occasional guitar), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing vocals).
books
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Harris in 'The Goob' film photocall, at the Venice International Film Festival 2014
filmThe Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Streisand is his true inspiration
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor contestant Fleur East
tvReview: Some lacklustre performances - but the usual frontrunners continue to excel
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Tuttle's installation in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern
artAs two major London galleries put textiles in the spotlight, the poor relation of the creative world is getting recognition it deserves
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman
film
Arts and Entertainment
On top of the world: Actress Cate Blanchett and author Richard Flanagan
artsRichard Flanagan's Man Booker win has put paid to the myth that antipodean artists lack culture
Arts and Entertainment
The Everyman, revamped by Haworth Tompkins
architectureIt beats strong shortlist that included the Shard, the Library of Birmingham, and the London Aquatics Centre
Arts and Entertainment
Justice is served: Robert Downey Jr, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong and Robert Duvall in ‘The Judge’

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Clive Owen (centre) in 'The Knick'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
J.K. Simmons , left, and Miles Teller in a scene from

Film

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

    Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

    The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
    Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

    Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

    The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
    DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

    Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

    Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
    The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

    Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

    The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

    The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
    Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

    Paul Scholes column

    I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
    Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker