On your marks, get set, bbaaaaaike! Why I love The Great British Bake-Off
Most of the TV I like to watch is crime based drama or thrillers and the majority of shows I gravitate towards are American. Some of the shows can be addictive like Breaking Bad, House of Cards, Damages and CSI (all of them!), The Wire, Scandal to name a few. They are just too good. Anyway, the one show that I thought I would never watch, or even like, that I’m watching now is GBBO or The Great British Bake-Off. Or simply, Bake-Off. I love it for two reasons – firstly, it is SO British. It’s charming, the setting and styling are quintessentially British and the contestants, or bakers, are incredibly polite to each other. Even when they’re not! And, it seems to constantly make the papers and trend on Twitter. The drama is so intense it’s crazy. Who would have thought there could be so much drama over iced buns and savoury pies? This season’s Baked Alaska scandal was just too funny – not the actual ‘scandal’ but the British public’s outrage and news coverage of it. It caused such a lot of fuss and people were actually seriously upset over it. I love it.
The first time I watched it a few years ago, I have to confess I didn’t see what all the fuss was about, but when my daughter started watching it last year, I began to see its charm and how it can be so appealing and entertaining. It grew on me, much like Britain itself. That’s the second reason I love GBBO. My girl and I watch it together – she’s much better at remembering last year’s series and bakers and compares and contrasts the bakers and their bakes. She is also fascinated by the actual baking and what they bake. That for me, comes secondary to all the rest. We both love the bakers and the presenters. The judges much less so. Of the two judges, the ‘male judge’ is far too intense and very critical. Mary Berry is quite fascinating though – especially in that she can stay so slim after eating so much! I don’t think you can get any more British than Sue and Mel and to be honest, there are times when I can’t understand what they say. It’s a good job Anna Grace is there to translate for me, which she does with ease and pleasure. I would never watch it without her, it would be far less entertaining.
When I first moved here, there weren’t very many American shows readily available and Netflix didn’t exist so I watched British TV. Shows like Coronation Street, Blind Date, Mrs Merton (this one eluded me for the longest time), The Bill, I’m Alan Partridge (this one eluded me too) and I can’t remember what all else. I learned a lot about Britain and British people by watching these shows, especially British humor, the British vernacular and pop culture. It wasn’t only the shows though, the TV adverts were also highly educational for me. There’s something so subtle and stylish about British television advertising that is the complete opposite of American TV ads and I much prefer it to the American style even when they are so off-beat or contain strong Northern or Scottish accents that when the ad has finished and I have no idea what it was advertising or what they even said.
So I continue my education after a long hiatus and look forward to cuddling up with my daughter to see how many different ways of saying ‘Bake’ there can possibly be.
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Meghan Peterson Fenn is the author of Bringing Up Brits and co-author of Inspiring Global Entrepreneurs with Heidi Mulligan Walker. Meghan is also the Director and Chief Designer at her own design company, White Ochre Design Ltd. And, she is an award winning expat blogger.