The Great British Bake Off: The Final is here!

Tuesday:The Great British Bake Off: The Final: (Channel 4, 8pm)

By Claire Cartmill
Monday, 22nd November 2021, 5:00 pm

Cakes, bread and pastry – where would we be without them?

Well, the world would certainly be a much duller, tasteless place if they’d never been invented. But some people are better at throwing such things together than others – and that’s where the Great British Bake Off comes in.

Where else could we have got to know the likes of Kim-Joy Hewlett and Rahul Mandal, the stand-out contestants from the class of 2018? Rahul was, of course, eventually crowned champion, and the nation cheered – we had collectively fallen in love with the unassuming Indian research scientist based in Rotherham.

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Giuseppe, Crystelle and Chigs

Last year, it was accounting and finance student Peter Sawkins who lifted the trophy, becoming the youngest-ever winner at the age of 20; he was inspired to take up baking after watching the show’s third series when he was 12. His record won’t be broken this year, because the current run’s youngest competitor, student Freya Cox, 19, bowed out in week five.

Sawkins beat security guard Dave Friday and digital manager Laura Adlington in the final. Dave, however, soon had other things on his mind – after the series ended he became a father and won viewers’ hearts by proposing to his girlfriend on spin-off series An Extra Slice. Whether such heartwarming scenes will be replicated this year remains to be seen, but as ever, the cream will have risen to the top and the best trio will be participating.

Their signature task involves producing a carrot cake, and making a good impression on judges Prue Leith and Paul Hollywood early on is crucial, if only to calm their nerves. That’s followed by a technical challenge with a Belgian twist before the mighty showstopper – an entire baked banquet fit for consumption at the Mad Hatter’s tea party.

In a cynical world, Bake Off is cosy and comforting – and long may that continue. Part of that atmosphere is generated by its hosts and judges. Okay, so Hollywood has a reputation for being a hard nut to crack, but since once you have, there’s certainly a soft centre – he’s been far chirpier since the show switched from the BBC to Channel 4.

The move has, in fact, been hugely successful for all involved, including the broadcaster. Last year Bake Off achieved its biggest ever run on the station, averaging a consolidated audience of 10.6 million viewers per episode and a 40 per cent share of the viewing audience.

It also pulled in its biggest ever share of 16-34 year-old viewers with a massive 63.5 per cent, making it the second biggest TV show for young viewers in 2020. Its bosses will be hoping for something similar, if not better, this time around.

Amber Kirby, marketing director at Channel 4 says: “People love indulging in the Bake Off escapism every year, it’s just so gloriously fun.”

She’s right – and although the current run is only just coming to a close, we already can’t wait for a taste of another baking bonanza when it returns for its 13 series next year.

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