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Reality TV Review

Did Great British Bake Off survive move to BBC One? Episode 1 review

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The Great British Bake Off's move to BBC One could have gone badly wrong.

Fans of the quirky, bunting-filled BBC Two smash were understandably horrified at the prospect of the show getting an X Factor-style makeover, replacing soggy bottoms and sponge cakes with sob stories and Simon Cowell-esque melodrama.

The Great British Bake Off 2014: Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood

© BBC / Love Productions/Mark Bourdillon


Great British Bake Off: Did the right baker go home?

Thankfully, judging from the opening episode of the show's fifth series, the change of channels is purely logistical. An audience of 9 million plus viewers on BBC Two is too big to be ignored and Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood earned the Wednesday night upgrade.

Sensibly the producers have remained firm with their recipe for success and haven't attempted to adapt the show for a more mainstream crowd - there are no 'sexy bakers' or barking mad fame whores, and Mel and Sue haven't been replaced by some dashing drone with the personality of a bowl of cold custard.

The biggest drama in the first episode came from some erupting chocolate cakes and 'wacky' IT manager Jordan's dazzling array of utterly horrendous outfits - shirts this bad haven't been seen on TV since Timmy Mallett faded from view.

Unlike Big Brother, where no talent is required, or X Factor, where the only barrier these days is your own willingness to cry on demand, Bake Off has managed to retain a decent crop of relatable and likeable contestants. You might love being on camera, but if you can't whip up a decent ganache you're out.

The Great British Bake Off 2014: Norman

© BBC / Love Productions/Mark Bourdillon


11 mouthwatering moments in the Great British Bake Off Cake Week

Not since The Generation Game has a TV show managed to master the art of taking ordinary members of the public, bringing out their sense of humour and making them more watchable than any amount of flouncing A-listers.

The self-styled "nerdy baker" Jordan might not have been to everyone's tastes, but how could you fail to be charmed by former Merchant Navy man Norman, 17-year-old Martha who looked like she should be listening to Justin Bieber rather than messing around with a whisk, or, on the other end of the spectrum, 69-year-old Diana, who can knock out a mean chocolate ganache with a cheeky glint in her eye.

Intrinsically, there's nothing intriguing about whether 12 bakers can get some cherries "suspended" in a sponge, but Bake Off charms, cajoles and makes it seem like the most fascinating thing in the world because you recognise these contestants as being just like your mum, your daughter, your best friend or your nanna.

But there's more to Bake Off than just a bunch of lovely contestants. There's also cake. And in Cake Week, there's LOTS of cake.

The Great British Bake Off: Jam Sponges

© BBC


From a Swiss roll signature challenge that left us drooling over our remotes - Red velvet Swiss roll! Raspberry and lemon Swiss roll! Black forest Swiss roll! - to a Showstopper round that had the bakers serving up 36 mini-cakes for Paul and Mary (how many cakes can two people really need?), it was almost enough to pass you diabetes via the TV screen.

Paul and Mary remain a brilliant partnership as the judges. Mary as the mother hen, offering crumbs of comfort to even the most dry and miserable of sponges. Paul, the blue eyed, rough-around-the-edges bit of crumpet, who does his best to pull off a gruff and grumpy exterior, but can't keep it up for long when you fill his gob with flour, sugar and chocolate.

However, the real stars of the show remain Mel and Sue.

The Great British Bake Off 2014: Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc

© BBC / Love Productions/Mark Bourdillon


From delightfully fruity gags about Paul Hollywood's "love dungeon", to brilliantly naff ones - "How do you make a Swiss roll? Push Roger Federer down a hill" - the pair revel in the absurdity of a TV show that makes drama out of people cooking lemon drizzle slices.

Whether they're fighting over the leftovers or bantering with 66-year-old Norman about his days in flares and high-heel boots, the duo are the heart and soul of this series and, while they remain, no matter what channel the show's on, this TV cake will keep on rising.

Did you enjoy the return of The Great British Bake Off? Let us know below!

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