The end of days

One of these days, someone will no doubt write an opera about the aftermath of the Brexit vote and the serpentine betrayal by Michael Gove of his erstwhile co-conspirator, Boris Johnson. A few months later, the GBBO team replicated in microcosm the outcome of the referendum, returning a majority-leave verdict on the show’s move to Channel Four. It remains to be seen whether Paul Hollywood, the sole remain voter, will eventually decide to turn assassin by walking away from the new format just like the others.

Because there are signs – apart, of course, from the fact that he plainly enjoys wielding a great big knife– of an inner Brutus trying to get out. ‘There is a tide in the affairs of dough’ he sort-of confided to Mary as they discussed the art of proving the savarin during the technical challenge ‘that taken at the flood leads on to fortune. Taken too early, and it won’t reach the top of the mould. Taken too late, and it’ll balloon and mushroom over the sides’. Warming to his theme even more, he could plausibly have gone on to characterise his own present relations with the affairs of dough as ‘and we must take the payout when it serves’.

GBBO: The End of Days is presenting us with many strange and morbid symptoms. Selasi, for example: how the hell did he get this far in the competition, the semi-final no less, without – apparently – knowing that to prevent lumps of raw flour from lingering in your mixture, you’re supposed to sieve the stuff before you put in the sponge? It’s basic knowledge, ffs. Being the snooty academic type who looked down her nose at mere ‘practical’ subjects, I gave up Home Economics after the third form – which goes to show how little I really knew; but before I did so, the redoubtable Mrs Cusworth had seen to it that even my highly-resistant skull had absorbed that particular nugget.

Candice had also dreamed up some very surreal tableaux. Her creations this week were like GBBO meets Tim Burton. Is she auditioning, with her Gothic lips, to be his next muse? Let’s start with he presentation of her palmiers in the signature round. Incarcerated – for reasons unexplained – inside a white birdcage, they appeared to be clawing at the bars and screaming to be set free. From around the outside, their fellow palmiers gawped at the spectacle, presumably for macabre entertainment. In the show stopper, it got, if anything, even weirder. This time, her array of fondant fancies was grouped around a bashed-up toy piano – awaiting, perhaps, the performance of a favourite tune. Disappointment, surely, awaited. Played on an  instrument of such manifest decrepitude, how could it ever be be anything but a travesty of its former self?

The final three, we now know, are Jane, Andrew and Candice. Selasi’s departure was a formality really, although he did try to throw himself a lifeline by holding out the tantalising prospect of a ‘Gary Lineker’ moment if he were allowed to stay. ‘I had a dream I made it to the final’ he said ‘and I baked in a dress. So, if I make it to the final, then it looks like I’m gonna be baking in a dress’. It didn’t save him. Fans will be relieved to hear we might not have seen the last of him though, after he made an audacious pitch for Mel and Sue’s jobs.

And I too am sorry to have said goodbye to him. He hadn’t a hope of winning, but he was so loveable. Out of the three actual finalists, I haven’t a clue who will take the crown (although, for what it’s worth, the Welford Park sheeps’ money appears to be on J-a-a-ane, who was also, tellingly perhaps, grinning from ear-to-ear in the trailer for next week). In reality, there’s no obvious favourite and it seems to be down to chance and whichever of them does best on the day. Speaking personally, I haven’t enjoyed this series, and I just want it to end. I wouldn’t mind seeing it turned into a full-on, cake-throwing, cream-squirting opera with a big fat orange bloke as Paul Hollywood though.

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