I’m sorry it had to end this way. If it had to end, I wanted it go out on a high; I never wanted it to be like this, so full of negativity. In previous series, I, like many others, had my favourites and what kept me watching was the hope that they might win. But this year – the last year as it turns out, but not the best – isn’t like that. This year, though it pains me to say it, is not about willing someone to do well; instead, it’s about willing someone to mess up. This year, from a notably dull field, I honestly don’t care which of the boring sods carries off the prize AS LONG AS IT’S NOT CANDICE!
But I’m afraid it might be. She’s one of the few people left in the competition whose bakes are improving week-on-week and grudgingly – very grudgingly – I have to admit she probably did make the best filo pastry show stopper. But I can’t stand her. I can’t stand the whole ‘aren’t-I-sexy-don’t-you-want-to-shag-me’ pout action stuff. I can’t stand the appropriation of the form via ready-prepared double-entendres (‘it’s good to get your hands in and give your sausages a good squeeze’). I can’t stand the acting like she’s besties with Paul and Mary (‘feel the weight of that [black pudding] Mary!’). I even can’t stand the emoting about her late grandmother, a photo of whom she just ‘happened’ to have about her person. No doubt the welling-up was sincere, but when everything else about her seems staged, you can’t help being suspicious.
The trouble is, amongst a personality-light and – at best – fitfully competent bunch, she’s got little competition. I mean who is she up against, really? Benjamina: nice but bland. Jane: ditto. Rav: ditto-ish, redeemed a little by nascent line in self-deprecation. Andrew: serious contender but want to see him angrier about never winning star baker. Selasi: so laid back it shades into don’t-give-a-stuff. Tom: possible Channel Four spy or (latest thinking) computer-generated C4 meme – started full of promise, now looking less clever after two weeks of serious losses. On current showings, I’d have to say Jane, Andrew and (gritted teeth) Candice for final three.
In other news (which all seems a bit academic now), an excited Paul announced the discovery of a previously unknown category of meal: ‘It’s not a main course! It’s a mooze boosh!’ (me neither). Selasi and Andrew have apparently joined a secret society whose members are initiated by means of cutting a plaid dress in half at the waist and forcing the applicants to wear half each on mass audience TV. Andrew got to wear the top whilst secure-in-his-masculinity Selasi carried off the skirt with typical insouciance. Plus – after the look she gave Tom as he attempted to explain the thinking behind his weird breakfast-cereal-Danish-pastry mash-up concept – I think we can surmise that Mary definitely has never drunk the milk at the bottom of the cereal bowl.
Tom’s offerings also failed to impress in the show stopper. But as he received the news that Paul was ‘a bit disappointed, actually’, he gave a shrug that suggested to me that he is starting to give up. I don’t blame him. I’m starting to give up too. The combined efforts of Channel Four, the wrecking ball that is Candice and the general dullness of the other contestants have made me feel that GBBO has already had its best days. Whatever afterglow we’re experiencing now is just the oven cooling down.
Of course, not even Candice could have foreseen that along with the innuendo, this series of Bake Off would spin-off a new armchair sport of ‘spot the quote that recent events have invested with spooky new meaning’. First off the mark: Sue, with her ‘Cheerio! I’m leaving the tent guys, been really great’. Paul, meanwhile, now revealed as the only Bake Off star willing to make the move to Channel Four, issued the ominous-sounding warning that ‘it’s about stretching that dough’. But it was left to Mary, regret permeating every syllable, to deliver the final reflection. ‘It’s sad’ she mused, sounding as if she really meant it, ‘when it all falls apart’.