The Great British Bake Off’s Dwindling Viewership: Should we still be watching?

Words by Lottie Ennis

I was rather a latecomer to the magical affair that is The Great British Bake Off but now it is perhaps the only classic TV which I am excited to watch in its scheduled spot the minute it comes out. Each year there are a selection of ordinary people who want to demonstrate, as well as push their baking skills to the limit.  Some might say it’s old fashioned and perhaps ill- advised in a current global ecological and obesity crisis. However, I would say that it represents all that is good about Britain and allows us all to indulge in a little bit of mindfulness as we watch the process of the bake.

One thing I like about the bake-off is the range of people that feature. There is usually a range of different ethnicities, ages, accents and styles in the competitors and yet they join together in a yes, competitive way, but also in a team effort to impress the glacial Paul and the perky Prue. It also showcases some of our most nostalgic memories as we see the bakers make recipes that they made with their families long ago. I can’t speak for everyone but I’m sure that most of us have a family dish or even a pleasant memory of cooking with a family member which comes wafting back as soon as the competitors start telling us their stories.

Furthermore, the competition is exposed to the British weather. The weather plays a huge part in the show and is perhaps one of the reasons that it feels so British, as even though it’s filmed in early summertime, it can be dark and rainy or stiflingly hot. This pathetic fallacy teamed with the variation of British accents that we have seen on this season alone, such as Yorkshire, Welsh and Essex gives an overwhelming sense of Britishness without fitting into any one stereotype. In the current political climate, it’s nice to be reminded through a heart-warming baking show that Britishness can be expressed in a multitude of ways through the medium of cake.

Words by Ashley Boyle

The Great British Bake Off’s at Soggy Bottom

As a long-standing lover of programmes with ‘The Great British…’ in the title and all things baked, it’s no surprise that The Great British Bake Off is one of the must-sees on my TV calendar. However, the most recent figures for the 10th series (3rd with Channel 4) has shown the lowest viewer turnout in six years, with an average of 5.7mil – down from 6.1mil last year. Since the controversial move to Channel 4 back in 2017, the show has lost its spark. The first big blow for the show was losing three important members who helped build its fan base – Mel Giedroyc, Sue Perkins and Mary Berry. Mel and Sue’s witty gaffs and honest on-screen chemistry are something that Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding just simply don’t have and Prue Leith’s statement jewellery has nothing on the loveable but fierce nature of Mary Berry.

Perhaps one of the worst things on the most recent series is something that never left – Paul Hollywood. As the only original member of the BBC cast to make the change to Channel 4, he relishes the attention. Since when did a handshake from Paul hold so much gravitas? What was once a humble and gracious sign of approval and satisfaction has now manifested into an ego boosting gimmick. Of course, Hollywood is by no means going to turn down the opportunity to remind others of his enduring position as judge. I think it’s important to note that the other personalities of the original series actually turned down the opportunity to continue, whereas Hollywood signed a contract offering £1.1mil more than his wage with the BBC. The sour truth about wages hit headlines last year during the Stand Up To Cancer charity specials, where celebrities where unpaid but the 4 faces of the show all took home cheques.

It seems that since the move, the focus on commercialisation and money has escalated, tarnishing the famous tent’s authenticity and relatability with those watching. Many contestants without actually winning the show now sign a contract for a book or television series and whilst it’s great to have all of this additional content, it makes the bakers appear ingenuine – did you just come on the show for a book deal?
Overall I think the GBBO has officially sold itself down the same river as other reality competitive broadcasts, who are now clutching at straws for viewers by messing with the ingredients of a near faultless recipe.