Since it first aired in 2010, The Great British Bake Off has reached its peak of 9.1 million viewers, won a BAFTA and gained the respect of many newspaper critics and celebrities. Now on its 5th series, which aired on the 6th August 2014, the British-based baking competition has become a national treasure to be emulated and inspired.
An increase in record sales of baking ingredients in supermarkets since the origins of the show point towards a cultural appreciation of baking, the beneficial aspects of the TV show which have rubbed off onto British society, namely the younger generation allow judgement to be made on the basis that The Great British Bake Off, with its wholesome, cultured and unique appeal, is influencing ordinary viewers to bake their own creative delicacies.
A new survey has stated that nowadays, people between the ages of 25-34 are more likely to bake from scratch. Due to the influence of the Great British Bake Off, which has introduced a younger age group in the form of contestants such as last year’s Ruby Tandoh and the current series’, Martha Collison, as well as presented them as strong bakers. This has influenced many youth and teenage groups to take up the hobby themselves. The concentration that is required during baking has been said to aid heart rate, blood pressure and overall mood.
The Bake Off is also very good at adapting, at the will of the two judges, Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, British delicacies and putting a different, more colourful spin on the tradition. And yet the aesthetic benefits of watching the show have been known to raise spirits and provoke viewers to produce their own mouth-watering fresh cakes, cream puffs and buns. What The Great British Bake Off may offer viewers is more than just a break from the consistency of their everyday lives, where watchers of the show may be transported to a beautifully verdant, typically British-looking garden; the signature tent up and the smiling faces of duo Mel and Sue to ensue hilarity. However, the power of the mind combined with the uplifting nature of the show fulfils the dual purpose of influencing potential bakers while pleasing the senses in more ways than just taste.
In the same vein as influencing society to take up baking as a past-time, studies have also shown that baking improves concentration, aiding and improving mental health. ‘I think weighing out ingredients, working through a recipe and being quite organized, it takes your mind off things. It’s meditative,’ John Whaite, winner of the Bake Off in 2012, writes in his cookbook. Many such as Whaite have taken up baking to aid their own mental and physical health. The Depressed Cake Shop, which started in August 2013, began to sell baked delicacies made by amateurs with a similar history. The proceeds were given to mental health charities in a show of support for baking.
The Great British Bake Off, appeals so much to the ordinary people in society because it picks a range of contestants, be they male or female; gay or straight; young or old, allowing a wide range of Britain to become involved in the show, influenced by a certain contestant’s penchant for icing, kneading and whipping. Or else, simply the beautiful way they handled the pressure of coiffing that iced bun in under three minutes. The Bake Off’s productive handling of contestant’s back stories paired with allowing them to produce their own baking fancies have improved rapport between society and the contestants, eliciting Twitter trends, Facebook posts and support and encouragement in the name of healthy competition.
The success of the show has encouraged a wide range of equivalents in many countries such as the USA, Australia and Ukraine, scooping up a wide range of viewers across a variety of countries and encouraging baking in all aspects of society. The productive outcome of the show has proven that, like wildfire, baking has become a tastier, healthier and more creative hobby which brings the corners of society together.
Who is your favourite contestant so far on the Great British Bake Off, 2014?