Well let me confess straight off that I only watched it because of the wonderful Noel Fielding, who I’ve had a soft spot for for years. I’d grown tired of Bake Off; hadn’t watched the last couple of years on the Beeb where it had grown a little tired and predictable, even with the annual influx of new bakers. But hiring Noel struck me as a stroke of genius, not to mention the brilliantly funny Sandi Toksvig. How could you not like a Bake Off with these two at the helm!
Cook-wise, I’m more of a Prue person than a Mary; Prue is straightforward, businesslike but with a smile too, a sense of humour; while Mary is homely. Prue is the doyenne of British cooking with an immense and more rounded experience. I used to live by Prue’s recipes years go but have never really taken to Mary’s (almost blasphemous, I know! But I find her recipes a bit old fashioned). If I had the chance for one of them to cook for me it would definitely be Prue. Then there’s Paul Hollywood, sole member of the original team. I’ve always found him a bit hard to like, but there he was alongside Prue and a different Paul emerged, more relaxed and likeable but still honest and straightforward with his judgements. Prue and Paul seemed a more balanced team.
The bakers in the first episode were remarkably adept; it was obvious who might go and who would definitely stay, but I was in awe of all those amazing showstopper cakes in the final test. Winning Steven’s loaf cake was incredible and Flo’s watermelon cake stunning; they were almost convincing illusions – as this last round asked for illusion cakes that looked other than they were.
In many ways it’s the same old Bake Off, the format the same, the tent looked the same; so really, lovers of Bake Off, there’s no reason to panic. There are changes, yes, but the show’s brighter, polished up to shine in the way it once did and all the better for a move. Yes there were ads but Channel 4 divided the sections up well and I liked that final moment of tension in the last few minutes while we waited for the ads to end and – slam! – straight into the results.
Long live the new Bake Off. I think I might end up hooked again …