The Great British Bake Off backlash has begun

Quality and cookery do not have to be mutually exclusive

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The Independent Online

The finalists’ wedding cakes have barely started to mature but The Great British Bake Off backlash has begun. In fact, this is quite slow going as backlashes go. In the social media age, a thing can go from ignored to lionised to vilified in the hours between breakfast and dinner. Also unusually, this backlash has come from within. The GBBO finalist Ruby Tandoh has had a Gerald Ratner moment and suggested that the programme that made her a household name is “crap”. “Collectively we’re all a bit silly,” she said. “We watch crap on TV like Bake Off. We like things we can latch on to and understand quite clearly.”

David Dimbleby also weighed in on the subject this week, suggesting in a radio interview that BBC4 and BBC2 should merge to make a more cerebral whole. “Cut out some of the gardening and the cookery and all that on BBC2, and turn it back to the quality thing it was meant to be,” he said.

They are both talking sense, although quality and cookery do not have to be mutually exclusive. Television is there to entertain, even comfort, as much as it is there to inform. And there are far greater ills and wastages to target than Mary Berry and co – like the bikini-fascism and kangaroo balls of I’m a Celebrity…, say, or the huge salaries of those countless BBC directors of strategy and synergy and what have you.

In other words, I was all set to start the backlash against the backlash. But then BBC2 announced the latest addition to its programming, The Great Interior Design Challenge, a search for “Britain’s keenest amateur interior designers”. Turns out you can have too much of a Great thing.

Never too old? Think again

The Dimbleby Effect is already taking hold. Just days after the broadcaster, 75, revealed his scorpion tattoo, an inking parlour in my hometown of Nantwich stuck a new sign in its window. “Did you know we offer discounts for over-65s?” it says, in pensioner-friendly, lilac bubble writing. “Enquire within. Proof of age required.” Required, presumably, so that the tattooists can check that any such customers are old enough to know better.