This week saw BBC2 broadcasting four special episodes of The Great British Bake Off, featuring various celebrity contestants, in aid of Comic Relief. I don’t know what it is about this show, but I watched the last series out of curiosity and became totally hooked… there’s just something so cosy and reassuring about watching people bake fancy cakes, I wish it was on every night! My favourite episode of this short run, by a looong country mile, was the first instalment, which rather stacked the comedy deck by having four professionally-funny people competing against each other.
The stars of the show for me were sketch comedy duo Lorna Watson and Ingrid Oliver… although it was a bit weird seeing them interact with Mel Giedroyc, since they are essentially “Mel & Sue 2.0”. Still, they made for very funny and likeable contestants… and it was interesting to see their contrasting personalities accentuated, under pressure. Lorna came across as slightly dithery and neurotic, while Ingrid was rather more sly and smirking… in a thoroughly adorable and endearing way, I mean. No surprise that Ingrid won the Master Baker apron, after paying creepy tribute to one of the show’s two judges with her “show-stopping” portrait cake! Meanwhile, Jo Brand was fantastically giddy and silly… far more so than I ever would have expected from watching her stand-up shows and guest spots. I guess her on-screen persona is a little more cynical and combative than her real-life persona?
The only other high point after that was Claudia Winkleman’s appearance in the fourth-and-final ep. I can’t say I’m that interested in the shows she actually presents, but I do adore her as a guest on other people’s programmes. She didn’t do too well on the baking front here, sadly… messing up most of the rounds, while arsing around and laughing her head off, bless her. The rest of the contestants were mostly a mix of serious presenters and sports people. Yawn. I appreciate that winning a medal at the Olympics is an incredibly impressive achievement, and winning a Paralympic medal even more so… but that doesn’t mean that the medal-winners themselves make for particularly entertaining or engaging guests on talk shows or panel gameshows, does it? Tch!