How bittersweet it was to watch last night’s Great British Bake Off final. Sweet to watch the bakers concoct their sugary cakes, bitter to know it was the last one in the series.
Who among us hasn’t longed, on these glum autumnal evenings of soaring infections and grim fatality reports, to be transported to the Bake Off bubble, a land of eternal sunshine and gingham-tented loveliness, where the worst thing that can happen is a soggy bottom?
Unlike any other reality show all the contestants are normal, nice and sometimes a little naughty in an innocent way with no c-list celebs, no pushy princesses or fake wannabees.
On baking hot summer days that in bleak midwinter feel like they are from another world, Bake Off so wonderfully British in a way we no longer recognise as Britain.
Ten years since the first series modestly arrived on our screens, it continues to prosper despite the changes of four presenters and the move to a new channel.
Love Productions, the geniuses behind it, have understood perfectly the show’s appeal, its understated charm and continue to focus on the bakers, their bakes and the unique tensions of the Bake Off tent.
No wonder it is such a ratings-winner with 10.8million viewers, the series opener was the most popular show on Channel 4 since 1985.
Thankfully and wonderfully predictably – there are few controversies in Bake Off – the final was Perfect Peter Sawkin’s night as he won the series and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
Last night’s final marks the end of a series like no other, filmed as it was over the summer with hosts, crew, and the 12 baking hopefuls having to form a Covid-secure bubble away from friends and family.
Over 10 gruelling weeks, those dozen contestants have been whittled down to just three – finance student Peter Sawkins, digital manager Laura Adlington, and Armoured Guard Dave Friday.
Twenty-year-old finance student Peter – dubbed the ‘baby-faced assassin’ – was the bookies’ choice from the start.
Flying the flag for Scotland by putting whisky and porridge oats into everything, the self-confessed Bake Off nerd’s attention to detail had twice won him Star Baker.
It was, Paul said: “as close to a draw as I’ve ever seen”. Peter, the youngest ever Bake Off champ, said: “I can’t quite believe that I am here. I wanted this a lot, when I was 12 I was watching repeats of Bake Off back to back. I think 12-year-old Peter would be in awe.”
He may have been a predictable winner, but if ever we could do with a bit of predictability, positivity and youthful enthusiasm (with lashings of porridge oats and whisky), it’s now.
Now, there’s just one Extra Slice of Bake Off left, the wonderful spin-off programme on a Friday night presented by Jo Brand and the excellent Tom Allen.
Tuesday and Fridays evenings will be a little bit gloomier from here on in. In a year that has been nothing short of a great let-down, Bake Off 2020 really rose to the occasion.