Bake Off Britain image

Bake Off Britain

I heard a comedian observe that if you want a reliable reference point for understanding contemporary Britain, there is probably no better guide than the Great British Bake Off: It is multicultural, loaded with innuendo, and people cry over cake. Over 14 million people tuned in for this weeks final – a vast audience in this multichannel age, and the largest for any programme shown this year on British television.

Bake Off is certainly multicultural, almost ludicrously so. This years contestants represented a demographic which is unrepresentative in terms of the actual UK population, but extremely representative in terms of the way we increasingly view ourselves in Britain. That a woman of Bangladeshi heritage should be crowned Bake Off Champion, on the back of a ‘show stopper’ featuring cakes wrapped in sari fabric, seemed wholly appropriate.

We British have always loved innuendo and double entendre: who can resist a bun in the oven or a soggy bottom? And – at least since the death of Diana – we have increasingly liked to wear our emotions on our sleeves, for the once stiff upper lip to wobble at a moments notice, and (essential to all good TV) a close-up-to-camera, tear-rolling-down-the-cheek moment: all the better if the tears are shed over something essentially trivial.

Watch Bake Off and the conclusion to draw is that we are a tolerant, sugar-loving, emotional and competitive people, presided over by a genial matriarch, and with no opportunity missed to crack a slightly blue joke. Want to understand contemporary Britain? Watch Bake Off!

← Prev article
Next article →