This week shall forever be remembered (well, until the end of the year at last) as the Week the World Fell Apart.
Nope, World War III didn’t break out – Mary Berry announced she was leaving the Great British Bake Off.
It was the berry on top of a big old cake of disaster this week. We already had to deal with the fact that Channel 4 had bought the format. That Mel and Sue weren’t making the switch. But now Bezza? Life just won’t be the same.
I love the Bake Off. I love the bunting. I love the candy coloured cooking appliances. The fancy ovens. The true British eccentrics who get gathered together to compete every year. The success stories, like last year’s Nadiya. I love the cake. And I love how we as a nation get quite swept up in it all. I love how truly, truly British it is. I love Mary Berry. And I love the BBC.
The Beeb, which doesn’t have to rely on advertising, has a knack for gentle reality shows. It’s where the Bake Off belongs. While your ITVs, Channel 4s and Channel 5s are relying on drama and sob stories and short tempers on the likes of The X Factor, Big Brother and The Island, the BBC present us with the Great British Sewing Bee. That weird pottery one. MasterChef. None of which rely on ridiculous dramatic back stories or scandal to get by. They just work.
And GBBO needs that level of care. It’s a really nice show. It needs the bunting and the icing sugar and the biggest drama being a collapsed ginger bread structure or binned baked Alaska. It needs Mary Berry.
Mary Berry is my dream grandmother. I like my own gran, don’t get me wrong. But if you had to pick someone to be your nan, you’d go for Berry. She’s very kind – even if she hates a bake, she’ll manage to find something nice to say about it. She can whip up a mean Victoria sponge. And I bet she’d have a cracking tale or two to tell at the dinner table on a Sunday.
Mary is a figure of stability. Consistency. She’s reliable – and loyal, as she’s proven by refusing the leave the channel which nurtured her. We all need a Mary Berry in our lives. And I just don’t know how the show will work without her.
Mel and Sue are fantastic. Their trick of swearing on camera so shots of crying contestants can’t be used is genius, their puns incomparable – they have an energy that can’t be matched. They’re be perfect quirky duo for what is a very quirky show. Because, really – how is it even possible that a bunch of randoms baking in a tent makes good TV? But it is, when you have the right people holding it together.
But it’s the loss of Berry which has hit us all hardest. Paul Hollywood is all right – but he needs that figure of authority and experience by his side to make him likeable. I’m not sure what he’ll be capable of without Mary to rein him in. She’s like the very kindly but quietly strict authoritative teacher who got the best out of her classes. And the School of Bake Off is going to feel it when she’s not there.
Now if you’ll excuse me. I’m going to cling onto what remains of this series and pretend the future of Bake Off simply isn’t coming…