The Great British Turn Off: have TV viewers had their fill?

The Great British Turn Off: have TV viewers had their fill?

Great British Bake Off series 13 contestants pose together

The Great British Bake Off has crowned another winner and packed away the iconic tent following the finale of series 13.

Amateur baker Syabira Yusoff took the top prize in Channel 4’s flagship show last night, after beating rival finalists Abdul Rehman Sharif and Sandro Farmhouse in the battle to impress judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith.

But while Yusoff’s winning orangutan-inspired cake was widely praised, Bake Off has become an “increasingly stale confection”, said The Telegraph’s Michael Hogan. “It’s no coincidence that ratings are down by 1.3m on last year,” he added.

Lost ‘core values’

“It used to be the event of the season,” said Jess Austin in Metro. But “while the bakers are as brilliant as ever, it feels like the show has lost its identity and what really made it special”. Like many critics, Austin blames the downturn on the departures of presenting duo Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins and their successor Sandi Toksvig.

Current hosts “Noel Fielding and Matt Lucas seem more concerned with being ‘funny’ and less like the mates-to-the-bakers that Mel, Sue and Sandi were”, argued Austin. And what “used to feel like a warm hug from a friend” now “feels like an awkward interaction with a stranger”.

The Guardian’s Scott Bryan agreed that “there has been something really wrong with The Great British Bake Off this year”.The contestants “have once again been a delight”, but “ridiculously high expectations and harsh judging” have taken their toll, he wrote. 

“This has been far from a vintage series,” said The Telegraph’s Hogan. The show did at least “end on a high” by “delivering a tense final and worthy winner”, but the “stale franchise needs to get back to its core values of cake and kindness”.

‘Culturally insensitive’

The latest Bake Off contestants faced a series of ever-more varied challenges, including making spring rolls, ice cream and even s’mores. Variety is all well and good, said Judy Berman in Time, but these tasks “don’t so much stretch the definition of the word baking as openly mock it”.

The challenges were “fiddly” and some of the timing of themes was odd, said Hogan in The Telegraph, with “Hallowe’en Week aired two weeks before Hallowe’en”.

Worse yet was Mexican Week, which “managed to offend an entire nation”, according to Hogan. In a review in the same paper, Craig Simpson described the Mexican-themed episode as “culturally insensitive”, after presenters Lucas and Fielding “wore sombreros and sarapes (colourful cloaks)”, played the maracas and made “puns about not being able to make even ‘Juan’ joke about Mexico”.

In a scathing criticism in Metro, Austin accused the duo of “taking the piss out of minorities and different cultures”.

If Bake Off “is going to keep me – and plenty of other fans – watching”, she warned, “we need to see change”.

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