Is this the end of the Great British Bake Off?

Part of the problem seems to be the production team’s stubborn aversion to repetitive challenges, but guess what: Brits love to repeat things! The Daleks come back all the other episodes of Doctor Who. Whether Strictly dared to cancel Halloween week, people would take to the streets. And we’ve lost count of how many times ex-soapstars have eaten the genitals of some poor animal on i am a celebrity.

Let’s face it, most of us cook the same favorite dishes every year, even things no one likes (stolen?!), but The Great British Bake Off rarely offers pastries that encourage people to try their hand at home – they wouldn’t dare. The show has come a long way from seemingly cheering around a third most UK adults to start cooking from 2011 to 2013 and help the Women’s Institute achieve its highest membership levels since the 1970s.

And frankly, The Great British Bake Off just isn’t much fun these days. In recent years, producers seem to be prioritizing drama over skill, raising the stakes and giving contestants unrealistic deadlines to complete increasingly stressful tasks. In previous series, contestants had enough time to enjoy cooking jokelike Sue Perkins wearing Baklava dough on her face, Howard having to explain hemp to Mary Berry, or Rahul having adorable existential crises. These days, the contestants don’t even have time to distractedly laugh at Matt Lucas and Christmas Fieldingthe cheeky and surreal humor of , too busy losing their taste for life while trying to make fifteen different mille-feuilles with the effigy of their favorite prime minister.

And that’s before they get crushed by the Debbie Downer of baking that is Paul Hollywood, who seems to have spent the entire series complaining endlessly about basic baker decorations, undercooked dough, and dry pies. Hollywood barely lets Prue say a word, giving her just enough time to excuse herself to add things like, “Could we think of something nice to say?” While previous series have celebrated the joy of cooking, viewers will hardly feel able to try themselves with Paul’s demands for “nothing but perfection” ringing in their ears.

The upshot of all of this is that the bakers just aren’t very impressive. It’s not their fault: the cast is as brilliant as ever, but a mix of overly demanding tasks and morale-chilling criticism has given them little opportunity to shine. Yes we had Syabira pina colada cake masterpiece, and that of Janusz ‘cake within a cake’ surprisebut true showstoppers are rare compared to previous series.

Add to all this that, for the third year in a row, the country-themed baking week (this time Mexico, formerly Germany and Japan) has sparked controversy around accuracy, disrespect and cultural appropriationand The Great British Bake Off begins to leave a bitter taste in the mouths of its loyal viewers.

About Walter Bartholomew

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