As The Great Celebrity Bake Off for Stand Up To Cancer returns, entertainment director Helen Bownass reveals the surprising thing she learnt about herself.
Joy of joy of all the joys. The Great Celebrity Bake Off for SU2C is back, and this year, as we’ve previously raved about, Channel 4 has pulled out the big-gun contestants. The line-up includes rapper Dizzee Rascal, actor James McAvoy, comedian Katherine Ryan, sporting legend Dame Kelly Holmes, psychotherapist Philipa Perry and Little Mix singer Jade Thirlwall.
And tonight’s show featured no less than Star Wars actor Daisy Ridley, who showed Paul Hollywood how to wield a rolling pin like a lightsaber; singer Alexandra Burke, who proved herself a woman after my own heart with her strong respect for clean sheets; and comedians and old school mates Rob Beckett and Tom Allen (the latter also presents Bake Off: The Professionals).
Noel Fielding was on paternity leave, so it was left to Matt Lucas to host proceedings alongside Paul and Prue Leith. And the show was a delightful combination of everything we love about the celeb version of the series: over-ambition, disastrous ganache, singing c/o Alexandra Burke and Matt Lucas, soggy bottoms, crack jokes, and quotes you only ever hear on Bake Off: “That doesn’t look like a toilet seat” (in reference to a cake) as well as some moving stories about families affected by cancer.
But there was one thing that played on my mind. As I watched I couldn’t help noticing that vegan baker Daisy Ridley kept talking herself down, saying of her very valiant efforts: “What a hot mess. Absolute token joke”, “I am that person everyone laughs at”, “This is rancid” and “I’m the dunce in the corner with the bad cake.”
Look, I know it’s just cake (is it ever just cake?) and Ridley was smiling and laughing throughout . She has also said of her tent experience to Collider: “I had the best time: didn’t do a great job, but didn’t cry” so she clearly feels super positive about the whole experience – as she should, she came across as brilliant fun. As did Burke who seemed to be having the best time and took home the coveted winning apron in the process.
But I do think there is something important to note about how frequently women casually berate and dismiss ourselves, even when it’s a joke and how that can potentially be damaging when done repetitively. It’s something so many of us do to direct attention away from ourselves, so we don’t appear conceited or arrogant or to make light of something, but those little comments add up and can lead to us making ourselves smaller.
A prescient case in point: when I was talking to my colleague Kayleigh this afternoon she couldn’t remember the name of a particular TV show. When I told her, she berated herself: “Omg ofc it is. I’m so dumb, thank you.” All that self-flagellation simply for forgetting the name of one TV show for a few seconds. I know she would never speak like that to someone else, so why do it to herself?
I’m also very conscious that I don’t want to criticise someone for being too self-critical or arm anyone with anything else to beat themselves up with: “I am so awful to myself, I’m so stupid!” is not a helpful story to tell ourselves either. We’re all just humans trying our best, and we should give ourselves as much credit for that as possible.
As Ridley said at the end of the show: “Piece by piece I’ll build myself up and crown myself star baker.” Which is an attitude we fully celebrate.
The Great Celebrity Bake Off for Stand Up To Cancer is on All 4
Images: Channel 4