Ah, yes. The Great British Bake Off (it’s definitely two words – I looked it up), that televisual feast for the eye and the soul, is back tonight! Clear your calendars, pull up your armchairs, loosen your cardies (or your stylish Zara floral bomber jackets) and pray that your bottoms stay crisp and crunchy in readiness for kickoff at 8pm this evening. This is the London Olympics of reality TV, this is the comestible Commonwealth Games with extra teacakes, this is, not to put too fine a point on it, the single best thing you will see on TV this year, and worth every penny of the licence fee all on its own.
I must confess here to having something of the zeal of the convert. I missed the first couple of series, thinking “A baking show? I don’t think so.” until the sheer amount of noise around series 3 piqued my curiosity and I took a look, and was hooked. For what, indeed, is not to love? You have Mary Berry, the nation’s grandmother (complementing the Queen perfectly, by the way – her Majesty is clearly the stern granny who tells you to stand up straight and get your hair off your face and who takes you on improving days out to the British Museum, while MB is the cuddly cake-baking granny who always has sweets in her handbag and who lets you stand on a chair to help with the mixing and icing and keeps a special spoon in the drawer for you to lick the bowl out afterwards.).
You have Mel and Sue, the latter of whom would be my wife if I were gay, euphemisms akimbo, ever ready with a fnarr fnarr joke about cream horns or doughnut holes, but equally quick to support the contestants with an encouraging word, a consoling hug or a light slap. And then you have Paul Hollywood.
Ah, Paul Hollywood! Husky, blue-eyed, twinkly Paul, bad cop to Mary’s good cop, scourge of soggy bottoms everywhere, but also himself the cause of numerous soggy bottoms amongst the female viewers for whom the hope remains ever present that during bread week he will masterfully seize a contestant’s dough and knead it firmly and rhythmically in his large, manly hands! Fnarr fnarr.