GBBO is not about gender. It's a kitchen-sink drama

IMHO: Not really. No one in their right mind makes their own puff pastry, let alone their own rococo gingerbread birdcage

Share
Related Topics

Who will win? Will it be Seventies throwback Brendan with his Stepford-perfect buns? Or knitted student James with his intellectually superior macaroons? Or laconic John with his alarming shorts? I'm talking, of course, about The Great British Bake-Off which reaches its soft-peak climax on Tuesday.

I love everything about GBBO (as its true fans call it). Well, almost everything - I can take or leave those segments about the history of the pork pie. I love the arcane terms - genoise, croquembouche, rough puff - and the cult chat of the judges - soggy bottoms, nice crimping, even bake. I love the upstairs-downstairs pairing of Mary Berry (spry, posh, elegant - the tarte au citron of judges) and Paul Hollywood (spivvy, Northern, no-nonsense - the oozy syrup pud of judges).

I love Mel and Sue, and their Radio 2-friendly innuendoes. Most of all I love the way the contestants pretend to chum along but as soon as they think the camera is off them they sit on the floor and stare into their ovens like Gorgons.

I don't love baking. Not a bit. But baking is not the point of GBBO. Not really. No one in their right mind makes their own puff pastry, let alone their own rococo gingerbread birdcage. It's a kitchen drama with some fantasy cakes thrown in. Every week someone will hubristically talk about how much their family loves their fig-and-peppercorn pie before coming a cropper. Every week there will be unbearable jeopardy around cracked crusts and wobbly bits that won't set but come good in the end. And every week there will be gold stars for the judges' pet and tearful goodbyes for the loser. As television recipes go, it's tried and tested.

Next week's final will be an all-male affair which has been greeted in some quarters as a great reversal in gender stereotyping. Only if you subscribe to the notion that all women like baking and all men like barbecuing. Last year's final was all-female. In fact an all-male final could be a cause for anxiety, a reflection of professional kitchens where men still outnumber women 10 to one. The nice thing about GBBO, though, is that it's not about men vs women, it's not even a popularity contest, it's about who can cram choux buns and caramel neatly into a traffic cone and still keep their cool. And somehow that's enough.

* Boffo biz for Variety! The film trade's newspaper has been sold to Penske Media Corporation for $25m. The new owners aim to turn around the 107-year old publication's creaking fortunes and bring it whizzily up to date for 21st-century film fans.

Whammo news but the new owners would do well to leave the old Varietyese alone. This curious in-house lexicon, where X is inked to pen a sudser helmed by Y, is one of the last vestiges of old Hollywood, an exclusive, daft code which conjures up images of megaphones, pan-stick and dancing girls. For newspaper journalists, taught from day one to avoid jargon and silly synonyms, it's a particular guilty pleasure.

Most famously the paper's Morse-style abbreviations gave rise to the headline "Sticks Nix Hick Pix" (a story about audiences in rural areas not wanting to watch films about rural life) but it's the made-up words that really sing - where hit films are "hotsy", applauding becomes "mitting" and "toppers ankle" [chiefs quit] their posts. Let's hope the Prez at PMC doesn't nix the slanguage. That would be too floppola.

* This week the world's arterati descended on London for the Frieze fairs. At Frieze Masters event, Helly Nahmad was boldly selling a giant Alexander Calder sculpture for £12.5m, while Acquavella flogged a Picasso for £5.9m, but in between the big sales there were signs of financial malaise. Namely, the free champagne was harder to track down than Saatchi himself and the canapes doing the rounds for the VIPs? A platter of radishes. Austerity bites, indeed.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: A widow’s tale with an unexpected twist

John Rentoul
 

For all his faults, Russell Brand is utterly sincere, something politicians should emulate

Janet Street-Porter
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing