Two of the first post war iconic designs for small cars, the bubble car and Mini could not have had more different origins: the bubble car was created in peacetime by Messerschmidt and Heinkel as a way of using up the cockpits and covers left over from wartime aircraft production, whilst by contrast the Mini, was a deliberate response to the Suez crisis and a need for smaller cars with less fuel consumption. Alec Issigonis’ design came from many hours of deliberate thought and attempts to match form and function. The end product works because much effort went into its creation and of course the prime reason why the car, despite its many facelifts, is still being produced today.
The same is true of the GBBO product. Considerable effort has already gone into editing the episodes as individual stories and also to align with the characters ‘chosen’ for them. But make no mistake in believing that all three of the Finalists are there by virtue of considerable effort and thought. It may still not seem cool in Britain to appear to want to do well or to admit to having made an effort, but all finalists did just that. There has been a considerable degree of editorial design to create the three characters whose relative merits as bakers are being discussed, but I spent a considerable period of time with them and I don’t even feel they are being presented in quite the way I know them, much less how their nearest and dearest must view them. I recognise where the the material was taken from, but I don’t recognise it as the whole person.
Of course there is a degree of one dimensionality about their representation, but let’s not confuse it with what the real person behind the creation must be: would someone who runs a successful PR company not have excellent interpersonal skills and be genuinely likeable, would a medical student really be of a personality that approaches something they care about by ‘winging it’ when people’s lives at one point in the future will be at stake, and can someone with a First in Law really be quite so emotional and unable to hold it together when it counts?
This has been the longest series of GBBO yet filmed, and all the bakers looked exhausted at the Final. They all had little time to prepare and develop the recipes they created- by my estimate the longest any one of them will have had is 72 hours to create 2 original recipes to quite exacting specifications.
There has been a larger than normal degree of ‘tricksiness’ about this series when compared to previously, which meant that sometimes the ‘baking’ and ‘patisserie’ element was stretched like old knicker elastic in the equivalent of a boil wash at 60 degrees: perhaps an inevitable consequence of producing a 10 programme series with original challenges when it is already on its third series and starting worldwide syndication. However syndication to other countries will probably widen the range of challenges available and give the format new life. Certainly some of us felt that some of the challenges had more than an eye to American baking than British, and this may be the way it goes in the future, the 70s back catalogue having been trawled by judges and allegedly contestants.
So my thoughts on the Final prior to transmission for those who do not know the result, is to take it all with a pinch of salt. It’s a bit of fun, that in the grand scheme of things will be a footnote in TV history soon and is being provided by the efforts of 3 men who had very little notice and now have a huge expectation upon them that it will all be stunning, spectacular and worthy of the Final. We are asking them to produce us a Mini and providing them with a few rusty cockpits. They stuck at it for 10 weeks because they wanted to, in a way that I do not think I could have done it justice had I been in the Final. Knowing how little time they had, all three of them did it justice and should be commended for that.
So be kind to them with all your online comments. And by the way, someone makes something that tastes so fine it is the equal of anything they have produced in any episode to date, and to my mind, to pull that off in the Final is some achievement. I’ll be contacting him for the recipe shortly!