Why The Great British Bake Off is one of the most dramatic shows on TV
Web Team | 26th September 2023
Bake a date in your diaries because Bake-Off is back with a much-needed blast of freshness as TV favourite Alison Hammond is ‘secret recipe to success’ as she joins Paul, Prue and Noel in the latest series.
Airing tonight (Tuesday, September 26 at 8 pm), Hammond will present alongside Noel Fielding, and replaces Matt Lucas, who has moved on to ‘pastries’ new.
Since its launch in 2010, GBBO has transformed the nation’s approach to baking, food shows and handshakes.From ‘soggy bottom’ to ‘Hollywood handshake’ and ‘showstopper’, GBBO has influenced the lexicon and embedded itself firmly in our hearts – and online search behaviour.
Insight by data experts at Manchester SEO agency Dark Horse reveals that Google Trends shows a huge annual spike during ‘Bake Off season’, with searches for product-led terms increasing by as much as 50% in the week leading up to Bake Off for ‘cake tins’ and ‘Kitchenaid’.
Informational terms also see a spike each autumn, with searches for ‘creme pat’ increasing each autumn and interest in ‘mille-feuille’ reaching its highest ever level in October 2015 when contestants were tasked with creating six of their own during the series finale.
GBBO is not all cute squirrels, lovely bakers and showstopping cakes; at times, Bake Off can be one of the most dramatic shows on TV. Forget those gritty crime dramas and supernatural thrillers, and welcome to The Great British Bake Off…
Nine reasons why The Great British Bake Off is one of the most dramatic shows on TV
Bakers baking at a table credit @pexels.
1. The Blood
Sweat pours, screams resound. Someone has cut their finger – again. Bake Off is not for the squeamish.
With so much sharp kitchen equipment around, no one is safe. Over the last 13 years, we’ve seen series 3 winner John Whaite turning the same colour as the tent as blood poured down his arm, while social media star Joe Sugg actually fainted on The Great Celebrity Bake Off. Enter the tent at your peril.
2. The Infernal Heat
The unrelenting furnace of the sun beats down on the stark white tent. News reports declare it the hottest day since records began in the era of ‘global boiling’. And inside that tent? There’s a group of overheated contestants trying to bake a tower of eclairs held together by buttercream to represent an iconic landmark.
Bake Off has a seemingly sinister attitude to the weather, with each series filmed in the middle of summer. Sure, it’s the season of bunting and picnics and cake in the garden, but the sheer terror of watching hours of hard work and intricate sugar craft wilt and collapse in the midday sun is a horror blockbuster all of its own.
3. The Eerie Heads
Pandemic. Lockdown. The tiers. The curfew. The word ‘alas’. The case of the rockstar with no neck. 2020 was a scary year for many reasons, with the sight of Freddie Mercury in his iconic yellow jacket, head slipping off his shoulders, certainly up there. With his closed eyes and downturned moustache, Freddie looked completely resigned to his neck-less existence, reflecting a mood many of us felt that year.
David Bowie didn’t fare much better, with a completely out-of-proportion head constructed out of cake. An attempt at his iconic lightning bolt in icing unfortunately resembled a large gash. Another One Bites The Dust.
4. The ‘Male Judge’
He Who Must Not Be Named. The piercing eyes. The terrifying stares. The hand that the bakers long to touch.
Known as the ‘male judge’ by some, the creator of the Hollywood Handshake is an unsettling presence. In his trademark blue shirt and jeans, he conjures fear and terror simply by standing near the contestants. He comes alive at Bread Week and can reduce a competent baker to a blushing, doubtful wreck with just one question. *Shudders*.
Fresh bakes credit @pexels.
5. The Despair
Despair, anguish and anxiety engulfed GBBO as the programme left its home at the BBC after seven series, and moved to Channel 4, losing the OGs Mary Berry, Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc in the process. Controversially, Paul Hollywood stayed with the show, and fans waited with bated breath for its reincarnation.
After a painful wait, the show returned. Male Judge still at its helm, accompanied by Prue Leith, raven-haired Noel Fielding and Sandi Toksvig. The line-up has evolved many times since, showing that nothing can shake the Bake Off brand.
RIP GBBO on the BBC.
6. The Cruelty
Little hands stretch out as small bodies strain on tiptoes to find their salvation…well, the fridge to put their bakes in to chill before decorating. Welcome to Junior Bake Off, the spinoff where 9-year-olds compete against 15-year-olds to be crowned the nation’s best child baker.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that a children’s baking show would be full of sprinkles and joy (and it is, in part), but the cruelly tall fridges, tough technical challenges and honest feedback make the junior competition a gritty drama in its own right.
One series they even had Paul filling in as a judge. You’ve never seen kids so scared.
7. The Stealing
What’s yellow and dangerous? No, nothing containing sharks, but instead the bowl of custard that Deborah’s pouring into her trifle dish…that doesn’t belong to her. The hottest chilled custard in history.
The mere mention of ‘custardgate’ is still enough to incite horror in viewers of the 2013 series, when poor Howard had his custard stolen*. Deborah was mortified, and the incident has dominated custard discourse for the last decade. One mistake is all it takes for your competition to pounce.
8. The Existential Crises
Many bakers have crumbled (pun most definitely intended) in the Bake Off tent, questioning everything from their abilities to their entire existence. Series 9 contestant Rahul had multiple existential crises during his time on the show, uttering lines including:
“As soon as something good happens, something bad just comes behind it.”
“I’m not confident with anything happening around my life.”
“I just feel so scared all the time.”
We told you it gets dramatic. Rahul went on to win his series, showing that a debilitating case of imposter syndrome doesn’t have to hold you back. Triumph over adversity.
9. The Flies
Insects swarm. Flies buzz. Wasps are drawn to the sugar. And amid all of this, 2020 contestant Sura swats a fly, bumps into fellow baker Dave in the process, and his pineapple upside down cakes crash to the floor. Jaws drop. Hear the sharp intake of breath. What do you even call an upside-down, upside-down cake? A sticky mess. A nightmare.
The Great British Bake Off began life as a dark horse. A midweek BBC2 slot, often filmed in a car park with members of the public peering into the tent as the contestants baked – seriously. Fast forward 13 years, and the show is as beloved as ever, all over the world.
Dark Horse’s head of marketing, Jennifer Szczepaniak Sloane comments: “People want to bake after watching the show, they want to know how to recreate what they’ve just seen, or they want to know how to start small, improve and take on the giants in the competition.”
“The buzz around GBBO is huge – the Bake Off effect shouldn’t be underestimated.”