23 October 2013

Heat and kitchens

It is not a television programme I watch (too much sex and violence), but it seems to arouse strong passions. Here is Ms Ruby Tandoh, demonstrating that - as well as being a dab hand with the oven - she can also write:
Ten weeks of frenzied baking culminated in a great pastel-coloured explosion of flour, bunting and puns. Within the confines of our little picket-fenced tent, we threw ourselves into the challenges of picnic pies and pretzels, shaking, terrified, dosed up on adrenaline and Rescue Remedy.
Of course it is the hyperbolic silliness – the make-or-break trifle sponge, custard thefts, and prolonged ruminations over "The Crumb" – that makes The Great British Bake Off so lovable. It is your nan's biscuit tin, a village fete and picnic in the park. It converts banality – the efforts of a gaggle of amateur bakers in a tent in Somerset – into a national spectacle.
That's why I am surprised at just how much nastiness was generated from the show. Despite the saccharin sweetness of the Bake Off, an extraordinary amount of bitterness and bile has spewed forth every week from angry commentators, both on social media and in the press. Many took to Twitter decrying the demise of the show, voicing their hatred for certain bakers, and asserting (week after week!) that they would "never watch it again" if X or Y got through that episode. Online hordes massed, brandishing rolling pins and placards, ready to tear down the bunting and upturn the ovens. How did a programme about cake become so divisive?


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