The Great British Bake Off – why are we so obsessed?
Bake Off

It’s six years since The Great British Bake Off aired it’s first episode. And we’ve been obsessed with soggy bottoms ever since

August 17, 2010 was when it all started. That’s six years tomorrow we’ve all been watching a group people annually battle it out with fairy cakes and cappuccino crème brûlées – and the audience ratings and social media mayhem have only increased.

With the new series landing next week – and the fresh batch of contestants unveiled – we’ve looked into exactly why the population of our country can’t get enough of folk making biscuits in a tent.

It’s down to earth – and relatable

Mary Berry shocked face

On the subject of its huge popular appeal (the finale of the last series became the third watched programme of the entire year), Guardian writer Charlotte Higgins has suggested that the appeal of The Great British Bake Off lies in its simplicity.

It’s a show about baking cakes in the countryside, and people can connect with that, because believe it or not Simon Cowell, most of us don’t spend our spare time trying to be pop stars.

In Higgins’ words: “[The] Bake Off validates the small quiet dramas of the trifling everyday”, making it easy for us to relate to the contestants, and for want of a better phrase, actually care about the competition.

We’re not in the middle of a jungle or locked in an unfathomably padded house with other contestants scrapping for camera time. We’re simply baking cakes to win a competition, and there’s something comforting in that.

Mary Berry is an absolute legend

Mary Berry BBC promo YouTube

The cult of Mary Berry is strong. She even managed to land a place on FHM’s 100 Sexiest Women in the World list, beating Jennifer Lopez in the process.

Now if that doesn’t demonstrate Mary Berry’s sky-rocketed popularity, we really don’t know what will.

Whether she’s spouting hilariously dry innuendos or politely critiquing the shape of a Cornish Pasty (oh yeah, we’d walk the Bake Off with our elaborate dishes), she’s a real character, and adds another level of depth and entertainment to the equation.

It brings us all together

Bake Off Nadiya winning

The latest conqueror of this baking gauntlet, Nadiya Hussain, was catapulted into celebrity status shortly after she captured the nations hearts with her down to earth evaluations of her skills (“I produced what they wanted, just the ugly version”).

Her triumph is the perfect example of The Great British Bake Off’s two appealing factors: the genuinely heart-felt nature of it, and the fact that it blurs the dividing lines between social classes.

Unlike The Pop Factor X Academy’s Got TalentBake Off doesn’t encourage rivalries between its contestants, and instead uses their personas and skills to entertain.

Bake Off face gif

At the end of the day, we’re not tuning in to watch a group of people have a spat about who’s the better singer, nor do we want a copy-and-pasted sob story from a less than believable Olly Murs replica.

We’re just here to watch people compete in a good-natured atmosphere, and in that sense, The Great British Bake Off is the talent show we’ve always wanted.

On paper, the show looks like a warm up act to the Antique’s Roadshow, but in practice, The Great British Bake Off is the most humane talent show we’ve seen in years.


A day in the life of a real Great British baker

Can you tell which of these Great British Bake Off innuendos is real?

Nadiya Hussain on sleeping in her apron – and baking for the Queen