Bingate: The furore over a dessert shows Britain’s devotion to the past

The Great British Bake Off controversy is out of control

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#bingate. Even by the occasionally trivial standards of Twitter, the “Twitterstorm” over some supposed dirty tricks during the editing of an episode of The Great British Bake Off seems absurd. We are dealing, after all, with the sum total of one binned, broken, beleaguered baked Alaska. And yet the nation as a whole has also suffered a collective meltdown, and the BBC has been battered. Just deserts?

It must be admitted that the BBC has form here. There was the Queengate scandal, when a video of the Queen having her portrait done was jumbled up with the effect of portraying Her Majesty as a grump, which of course she is not. After disobliging the real Queen, the corporation has now seemingly impugned the reputation of Mary Berry, a lady closely associated with Bake Off and our beloved sovereign Baking Queen, and endowed with a nature as sweet as her own carrot cake. We might also recall Attenboroughgate, when some apparent footage of polar bears digging a hole in the ice was spliced together from two lots of bears. Viewers complained; the view of the bears is not recorded.

Perhaps this row proves that the British care passionately, and possibly inordinately, about their venerable institutions – the monarchy, the BBC, David Attenborough and baking cakes. In a way, such feelings hark back to a sort of fantasy Britain of village fetes, policemen in Wolseleys and eccentric characters that, if it existed at all, enjoyed its heyday in the 1950s and probably died out in 1974. #bingate, then, merely confirms the fatal attraction that the British, or a substantial minority of them, feel towards their past, real or invented. For many of us, though, it is an episode that needs to be placed in its proper perspective: #itsonlyacake.

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