Two of my top ten all-time favorite TV shows are Derry Girls and Great British Bake Off, so when Netflix dropped the holiday crossover special this week — which apparently aired in January in the UK and is why Sandi Toksvig is still bringing her gay joy to the tent — I hit play as fast as my fingers would go. I was not disappointed! In fact, I giggled so much out loud that Stacy was like, “I have never heard you giggle so much out loud in my entire life.” Which may or may not be true; 2020 has been stingy with the laughs. The episode features Saoirse-Monica Jackson (Erin), Nicola Coughlan (wee lesbian Clare), Jamie-Lee O’Donnell (Michelle), Siobhan McSweeney (Sister Michael), and Dylan Llewellyn (James), and they play off each other in real life as well as they do on the series. Siobhan McSweeney even Jim Halpert-ed the camera better than Jim Halpert himself. (Although, I guess in the UK you call it Tim Canterbury-ing the camera?)
“See, in Ireland, we love slime,” Siobhan explains when Paul and Prue say her trifle looks like an aquarium. “It’s traditional that we have slime for the New Year. So, please don’t dis the culture of my people.”
The signature trifle challenge is followed by a technical challenge of salmon and beetroot blinis and a showstopper of 3D cakes based on 3D cake based on their favorite decade. Jamie-Lee O’Donnell trying to coax a fondant Amelia Earhart to life is one of the most hysterical things I have ever witnessed. But listen, don’t just believe me. Twitter, too, has spoken!
Tenth anniversary marred by quixotic judgments and unfeasible challenges. TV review by Jillian Chuah Masters
And that’s a wrap: last night concluded 10 years of The Great British Bake Off. This show is the nation’s TV equivalent of comfort food. In the past, it has stuck to a well-worn recipe — the result was fun to fight over but easy to love.
This series (on Channel 4) has been more divisive than most. The opening episodes delivered the usual comforts: dramatic spills, over-egged puns, and (most importantly?) some breathtaking baking. Arguably, this year’s contestants were less representative than usual, with more than half of the bakers still in their twenties. But they won us over quickly. Crowd favourites included goth queen Helena (with her spookily good Halloween bakes), loveable Michael (whose dimples conquered Twitter) and witty Henry (the church organist who promised to strip onscreen at least twice).
Despite a strong start, the cracks appeared early. Some technical challenges were unfeasible. Some judgments were weirdly brutal. Phil, the likeable truck driver, was axed sooner than he deserved. Then Helena was gone. Then Michael and Henry were gone, and the show took on that distinct feeling of a party where it’s getting late and your best mates have already left. It didn’t help that the hosts — Noel Fielding (quite tall) and Sandi Toksvig (quite small) — spent their screen-time squeezing the life out of one joyless joke. These minds gave us The Mighty Boosh and school us regularly on QI. Surely, on a baking show, they can still give us something to sink our teeth into.
Sue Perkins, the former host of the Great British Bake Off, has disclosed how she considered leaving the programme after returning from a trip with impoverished Tibetans to find a contestant crying because they had lost a packet of candied chestnuts.Perkins, who hosted the BBC show with Mel Giedroyc, said she had been left incredulous at the culture clash, after returning to the tent in 2014 [ . . . ]