It’s Chocolate Week for The Great Bake Off
Some of us didn’t realise just how much we needed The Great British Bake Off until it came back onto our screens last month.
That’s partly because it provided a touch of normality in what has been a very strange year, even if it didn’t come back quite as we know it.
For a start, Sandi Toksvig has left the tent to be replaced by new co-presenter and Little Britain veteran Matt Lucas.
He started the new run with a parody of Boris Johnson, just moments after the genuine article had addressed the nation, which admittedly didn’t go down well with everyone – there were 200 complaints to Ofcom.
However, once the episode began in earnest, it was clear he was a natural as he bonded with the bakers and demonstrated his obvious rapport with co-host Noel Fielding. (Matt has claimed it’s down to Noel that he got the job.
He told Capital Radio DJ Roman Kemp: “They were looking for a new host, and Noel had a dream that I was the co-host. And instead of saying to the producers, ‘I dreamt Matt Lucas was the co-host’, he just said, ‘Matt Lucas would be a good co-host I think’ and then I got an audition.”
The latest batch of contestants, who formed a bubble so they could take part, also proved to be a likeable bunch, and judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith were both on fine form.
But arguably the real hero of the opening episode was whoever had the bright idea that the bakers’ first showstopper challenge should involve making busts of celebrities out of cake.
The results were quite simply extraordinary. It feels wrong to pick a favourite, but Laura’s Freddie Mercury (who was sporting his iconic yellow jacket, but missing a big part of his head) and Hermine’s completely unrecognisable Lupita Nyong’o must be among the contenders.
It was one of the funniest rounds in Bake Off history – and add in the drama of Sura accidentally sending Dave’s pineapple upside down cakes flying, and you had a truly classic episode and a reminder of why this show has become a national institution.
It’s set a very high bar for the rest of the series (in terms of entertainment, if not decoration), but hopefully this latest edition can match it as the bakers get to grips with Chocolate Week.
Prue and Paul have set three challenges, beginning with a deceptively simple traybake in the Signature, followed by a Technical packed full of chocolate and nuts (which, if Biscuit Week is anything to go by, should give Prue a chance to work in a double entendre or two).
Finally, there’s a celebration Showstopper which pushes the baker’s skills with white chocolate to the limit. At the end of it someone will be crowned Star Baker and someone else will be heading home. And while some viewers may wonder if that’s a slightly less of a blow these days as the contestants will have been away from their loved ones, it’s probably still safe to say that no one wants to be kicked out.
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