The other vastly important part of the GBBO mix is, of course, the contestants. GBBO seems to have the same talent as Gogglebox for finding genuinely nice and slightly loony people who will, if a camera is pointed at them for long enough, eventually say something funny and endearing. With some of them, it has to be said, you don’t have to wait very long. Following a dough disaster in 2012 in which her nascent loaf went on the floor, Cathryn exclaimed “I can’t use it, it’s got bits of carpet in it! I can’t serve Mary Berry green carpet!”. Indeed.
All of them clearly love baking, and bond over it. As a swimmer I entirely understand this; swimmers can happily form deep and lasting friendships based on having nothing in common but swimming. They are as diverse a bunch as the GBBO team can manage under the circumstances. There is an understandable bias towards the white middle-classes, since it is in this portion of society that baking as a pastime has largely taken off. This again is understandable; if you are working two minimum wage jobs just to pay the rent and buy food, you are unlikely to have either the spare energy to bake nor the spare cash to buy the ingredients. And if you come from a culture where the staple carbohydrate is rice, you won’t have grown up icing cupcakes at your mother’s knee.
However, the researchers do their best. For me one of the most heart-warming bits of last year’s Bake Off was the sight of Christine, 66, who learnt to bake at her grandmother’s knee, hugging 25 year old Ali who has been baking for only four years and exclaiming with tears in her voice “And if you don’t stay in touch I’ll KILL you!!”