The Great British Bake Off has been dubbed one of the cosiest shows to ever grace our televisions, and for good reason. The Channel 4 programme is packed to the brim with delicious recipes, endearingly hopeful contestants and punnery verging on the inappropriate-for-teatime type – not to mention plenty of foodie facts in the form of the ressurected history segment.
But for diehard amateur bakers (and, y’know, sadists), there’s nothing more enjoyable than watching GBBO contestants rush to finish their bakes in record time. Noel Fielding or Sandi Toksvig will begin the dreaded 10-second countdown, causing Bake Off stars to rush to add their final finishing touches with trembling fingers.
And, no matter what, they all have to drop tools the very moment they’re ordered to “STOP BAKING” – which, at times, has proven disastrous for them.
While we appreciate that there’s probably a certain amount of creative editing to add tension (there’s no way that intricate sugar castle was created after the five-minute bell), we thought the amount of time given was non-negotiable. However, it seems as if that strict countdown isn’t quite as, well, strict as we thought.
In an interview with The Mirror, Sandi has admitted that she and Noel often bend the rules to give struggling contestants a little help in their race against the clock.
“There have been odd times where we have slowed down the final 10-second countdown as we can see they’ve got one quick thing left to do,” she said.
A Channel 4 spokesperson, clearly sensing the waves of outrage forming all over the internet, was quick to clarify exactly what Sandi meant – insisting that any “slowing” was fair because all the contestants got it:
“Any slowing of the countdown is a matter of mere seconds and gives all the bakers the same amount of time.”
Though it must sting to be one of the ones who rushed to complete a masterpiece in time, only to sit there all finished as others reap the benefits of a few seconds more.
It’s not the first time that Bake Off fans have been confounded by the stark realities of television: last year, when the show was still on BBC One, it was revealed that the judges have nothing to do with the perfect example bakes that they bring out for the technical challenges each week.
That’s right: despite giving viewers the impression that they spend hours making their bakes behind the scenes, the judges – at that time Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, now Hollywood and Prue Leith – have never so much as sieved an ounce of flour during their time on the show.
Love Productions (the team behind the show) confirmed: “[The judges] don’t make the cakes. They never have.”
They added, by way of explanation: “They are baked on the day and [the judges] could never do that.”
Naturally, this news went down like a lead balloon on Twitter.
And let’s not forget how everyone was up in arms over Noel’s fridge-hiding antics, the unusual mini roll recipe, the pre-made fondant incident, this contestant’s ‘controversial’ Instagram account, the ad breaks, and the frequency of The Paul Hollywood Handshake.
To be honest, though, if there’s one thing we enjoy more than delicious cake, it’s delicious cake served up with a slice of drama. Roll on the next episode.
GBBO continues next Tuesday at 8pm on Channel 4
Images: Channel 4/Love Productions