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?  

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

music
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Arts and Entertainment
James singer Tim Booth
latitude 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Lee says: 'I never, ever set out to offend, but it can be an accidental by-product'
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe judges were wowed by the actress' individual cooking style
Arts and Entertainment
Nicholas says that he still feels lucky to be able to do what he loves, but that there is much about being in a band he hates
musicThere is much about being in a band that he hates, but his debut album is suffused with regret
Arts and Entertainment
The singer, who herself is openly bisexual, praised the 19-year-old sportsman before launching into a tirade about the upcoming Winter Olympics

books
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Cryer and Ashton Kutcher in the eleventh season of Two and a Half Men

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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.

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

    A land of the outright bizarre
    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
    Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

    The worst kept secret in cinema

    A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
    Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
    Why do we have blood types?

    Are you my type?

    All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
    Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

    Honesty box hotels

    Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

    Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

    The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn