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https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/voraciously/wp/2019/11/01/three-seasons-into-a-cast-shake-up-the-great-british-baking-show-is-about-as-sweet-as-ever/

Commentary on the reboot in general, no spoilers!

Three seasons into a cast shake-up, ‘The Great British Baking Show’ is about as sweet as ever

By Becky Krystal 

November 1

Another season of “The Great British Baking Show” has come and gone. Surprise: No spoilers here! If you want to know who won on the finale that dropped Friday on Netflix, you’ll have to watch or look it up somewhere else.

You know who else is winning with the beloved cooking competition? Three seasons into a massive cast shake-up, I’d say — surprise, again — us.

I am an eternal optimist, but even I was worried about the future of the show when we learned three years ago that judge Mary Berry, in addition to original hosts Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, would be leaving the show. The changes came after Love Productions defected from the publicly funded BBC in England, where the show is known as “The Great British Bake Off,” to advertising-supported Channel 4. “Has officially hit soggy bottom,” read the headline of my lament, which, as viewers will know, is one of the most devastating burns you can get on this show. In the States, the show also moved from PBS to streaming on Netflix, where episodes this season were released weekly rather than all at once.

I’m happy to say I was wrong to be so pessimistic, for the most part. Of course, you never forget your first love. The seven seasons with the original cast will forever live on in my heart, with a kind of ethereal glow, much like the idyllic sunshine-through-flora shots the production team likes to sprinkle throughout each episode. (Can someone please investigate the fake deer lurking in the greenery that shows up in way too many shots?) There’s no replacing the classics, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate what has come after.

Prue Leith has proved a worthy, if slightly less warm, replacement to Berry. If anything, Leith seems more willing to give fellow judge Paul Hollywood what’s what. There are times this season where she flat-out disagrees with his assessment of a bake, and that is always immensely satisfying. Like Berry, she knows her stuff and plays up her affection for all things boozy. And can we talk about those statement necklaces? I anticipate finding out what chunky, geometric and colorful neck bling she will be wearing as much as I do what the bakes will be. They seem worthy of a dissertation themselves. Eater has already attempted an Etsy investigation.

Speaking of sartorial splendor, hosts Noel Fielding and Sandi Toksvig don’t shy away from bold attire and, in Fielding’s case, eyeliner. When the duo first appeared, I couldn’t help thinking their act felt a bit forced. I can’t definitively say whether they’ve relaxed more into the roles or I’ve gotten used to their antics. I think it’s both. I can laugh and eye-roll at the same time, though.

If Giedroyc and Perkins were, as I’ve previously said, the daffy, slyly bawdy aunts, Fielding and Toksvig are more like those relatives who play up the ham act that you know is ridiculous but you love them for it anyway. No doubt, their brand of humor is different from that of longtime friends Giedroyc and Perkins, who took a more erudite approach to being the comic relief. Fielding and Toksvig rely more heavily on props and visual gags. Slapstick is underappreciated these days, so I’m willing to roll with it. I could, though, live without all the short jokes aimed at the petite Toksvig, who gamely plays along. I’ve lost track of how many times this season Fielding pretended to toss her around in a burlap sack. Bags notwithstanding, they do play well off each other.

Like their predecessors, Fielding and Toksvig excel in connecting with the contestants, offering pep talks, a shoulder to cry on and a laugh as needed. Seeing Fielding try to rattle the bakers with edgy jokes is on the whole pretty entertaining. This season, repeat star baker Steph had little tolerance for his antics, but semifinalist and veterinarian Rosie always rose to the challenge, often with a quick-witted response, when Fielding needled her with animal humor. (“What’s the biggest animal you’ve castrated?” “A bull.”) At one point, Fielding suggested the two start a spinoff, and I am 100 percent here for it.

Of course, not everything is English roses in the not-quite reboot. The bakes are more likely to border on completely absurd, if impossible. (For the uninitiated, there are three per episode: a signature, showstopper and technical, the first two of which the bakers know about in advance.) Witness this season’s mind-bending Sarawak cakes, which hail from Malaysia and involving baking multilayered and -colored cakes that are cut and reassembled into kaleidoscope patterns. Or last season’s melting chocolate domes that dissolved to reveal another dessert inside. The technical challenges of late seem designed to set up the bakers for failure. In the show’s earlier incarnation, you were much more likely to have at least one baker who knew something about how to make the mystery dish whose ingredients lurk under a gingham cloth, with only a very pared-down recipe to guide the contestants. These days, the technicals almost always prompt blank stares and bug eyes all around. Last year’s fire-baked pita from the finale? Let’s not even go there.

Similarly, Hollywood — and the editors — seem to really be leaning into his bad-cop persona. He seems less … human than before. Long stares at the bakers, lingering shots of those piercing blue eyes. It’s basically the real-life equivalent of the cartoon villain twisting his mustache. Are we supposed to be scared? Amused? Either way, it’s a bit stale by now.

To me, the most glaring change in the three post-BBC seasons is the distinct lack of older bakers. Don’t get me wrong, I love a wunderkind as much as everyone else — dear Henry and his earnest neckties! But one of the things that was most quintessentially British about the show’s earlier seasons was the inclusion of bakers who had been in the kitchen longer than some of their younger competition had been alive. The even-keeled, self-effacing veterans who were, despite being on an actual competition, somehow less desperate for the approval of the judges. Season 1 (here, anyway, as PBS picked up the series several years in) winner Nancy was the kind of grandma who’d invite you over for a treat and a cuppa. And who could forget her cohort Norman, the blunt Scot who unabashedly stuck to tradition even if it wasn’t flashy. Where have those bakers gone? Have they self-selected themselves out of applying? Have the producers decided they’re not exciting enough for the younger demographic of Channel 4?

So, yes, nobody — or no show — is perfect, even “Bake Off.” It’s only because I love it so much that I can see its faults — and forgive them. Not everyone can. USA Today went so far as to call this season a “train wreck.”

In the end, I need this show. We need this show. What can I say? It’s still a recipe for success, and as usual, I’m hungry for more.

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Have no idea what this show is about. So i can't comment.  I just glad to see You posting, hopefully all is good again, or best as possible.  The tree's around here have been just beautiful,

Fanny Craddock and Johnny. That is all I'm saying.

I do a mean scrambled egg, but baking?   I made a strawberries and cream shortcake type thing a few years back, which tasted damn fine but looked like a road accident.   Beyond tha

Have to say that I think this series has been one of the weakest. I agree completely with the article about the lack of older contestants, probably because I can relate to someone who has been baking for his (or more likely her) family since forever!

I like Prue as a judge. She is definitely not as warm as Mary, but she certainly knows her stuff and keeps Paul in his place. Generally I like Sandi & Noel, but the opening sketches, jokes, whatever have worn a bit thin. 

 

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15 hours ago, Daisey Jeep said:

hmmm Prue Leith is less warm than Mary Berry 

this does not want to make me watch 

 

1 hour ago, whispered secret said:

Have to say that I think this series has been one of the weakest. I agree completely with the article about the lack of older contestants, probably because I can relate to someone who has been baking for his (or more likely her) family since forever!

I like Prue as a judge. She is definitely not as warm as Mary, but she certainly knows her stuff and keeps Paul in his place. Generally I like Sandi & Noel, but the opening sketches, jokes, whatever have worn a bit thin. 

 

Hmmm, I don't get the "not as warm" part, as I hear her offering more constructive criticism, even suggestions during the bakes, to the bakers. I don't think her personality is as "big" as Mary's, but it certainly works for her and the show, mostly because she is definitely not intimidated by Paul.

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16 minutes ago, JimCT said:

 

Hmmm, I don't get the "not as warm" part, as I hear her offering more constructive criticism, even suggestions during the bakes, to the bakers. I don't think her personality is as "big" as Mary's, but it certainly works for her and the show, mostly because she is definitely not intimidated by Paul.

I think the best way I can describe it is that Mary is a bit like the granny you wished you had and Prue is like the domestic science teacher (that is ageing me!) you either had or wished you had! 

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4 hours ago, whispered secret said:

I think the best way I can describe it is that Mary is a bit like the granny you wished you had and Prue is like the domestic science teacher (that is ageing me!) you either had or wished you had! 

has Mary been on the telly for ages ?

our home economics teachers at intermediate school were old bats who had us make terrible things lile bran muffins

Mary i just could not warm to her

so  I'll keep my own grandma ;)

it might just be the judging as  i didnt have any other history with Mary

on Australian MasterCard they used an older cook Maggie Beer as a guest judge whome i loved on her tv shows over the years but as her appearances on master cheif continued i began to like her less as she seemed to get more critical and less friendly although in this present series when her time came around she seemed friendly again 

at least Nigela is still lovelly 

 

anyway it'll  be ages before this series screens here for me to deside for my self what this Prue lady is like 

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13 hours ago, Daisey Jeep said:

has Mary been on the telly for ages ?

our home economics teachers at intermediate school were old bats who had us make terrible things lile bran muffins

Mary i just could not warm to her

so  I'll keep my own grandma ;)

it might just be the judging as  i didnt have any other history with Mary

on Australian MasterCard they used an older cook Maggie Beer as a guest judge whome i loved on her tv shows over the years but as her appearances on master cheif continued i began to like her less as she seemed to get more critical and less friendly although in this present series when her time came around she seemed friendly again 

at least Nigela is still lovelly 

 

anyway it'll  be ages before this series screens here for me to deside for my self what this Prue lady is like 

Yes, Mary has been on TV for a long night time. Bake Off raised her profile enormously, but I remember watching a cookery programme in the 70's in which she appeared. She wrote the first cook book I remember using when I was first married - Mary Berry's All Colour Cook Book! 

I think this is the third series featuring Prue as a judge, ever since it switched from BBC to Ch 4.

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19 minutes ago, whispered secret said:

Yes, Mary has been on TV for a long night time. Bake Off raised her profile enormously, but I remember watching a cookery programme in the 70's in which she appeared. She wrote the first cook book I remember using when I was first married - Mary Berry's All Colour Cook Book! 

I think this is the third series featuring Prue as a judge, ever since it switched from BBC to Ch 4.

that probably explains why you are all so found of here

every generation has a tv cook/cheif that teaches the masses 

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Delia! Still my all time favourite tv cook. Have all her books, all with cracked spines, spilt ingredients, scribbled notes. Even though I picked up a pristine copy of her winter book,in a charity shop, I can't part with the original. And, I couldn't manage Christmas without her!!!

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On 11/3/2019 at 6:34 AM, whispered secret said:

Have to say that I think this series has been one of the weakest. I agree completely with the article about the lack of older contestants, probably because I can relate to someone who has been baking for his (or more likely her) family since forever!

I like Prue as a judge. She is definitely not as warm as Mary, but she certainly knows her stuff and keeps Paul in his place. Generally I like Sandi & Noel, but the opening sketches, jokes, whatever have worn a bit thin. 

 

Agreed with most of this but I’d add there was far, far too much crying. I remember reading some years back that Mel and Sue would deliberately spoil shots of contestants crying. Sandi and Noel seem to frame them instead and  it lessens the overall kind, warm vibe of the show I think. 

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37 minutes ago, PrettyRedRose said:

Agreed with most of this but I’d add there was far, far too much crying. I remember reading some years back that Mel and Sue would deliberately spoil shots of contestants crying. Sandi and Noel seem to frame them instead and  it lessens the overall kind, warm vibe of the show I think. 

Have no idea what this show is about. So i can't comment. 

I just glad to see You posting, hopefully all is good again, or best as possible. 

The tree's around here have been just beautiful, and I've been thinking about you.  

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1 hour ago, PrettyRedRose said:

Agreed with most of this but I’d add there was far, far too much crying. I remember reading some years back that Mel and Sue would deliberately spoil shots of contestants crying. Sandi and Noel seem to frame them instead and  it lessens the overall kind, warm vibe of the show I think. 

nice to see you PRR

this is prettt much why i avoid most reality tv

i would not enjoy this at all

i hate when they start crying on Mastercheif, it breaks my heart

but the judges on Aussie Mastercheif are real nice and one of them will go and make them feel better with a hug or a kind word and the contestant gets back into their cooking 

even Gordon Ramsay knows to behave himself and be nice when he is on Mastercheif Australia 

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Ok im psycing myself up to see Wills and Kate bake with Mary Berry

I saw it on the news tonight

No world of when we are getting it here

It could be mid January if whe're lucky 

Or xmas 2020 :(

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I just saw an advert for another cooking baking show with your Mary Berry

Her pearls are worthy of Wilma Flintstone 

Im going to have to watch just to see the pearls

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On 3/21/2020 at 2:49 PM, Flea said:

I opened this thread with anticipation and became disappointed quite rapidly.

that's how i found the program in question quite frankly

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