Wednesday, 5 October 2011

BBC Great British Bake Off - Who Cares?

October 2011

There is an important clichéd rule to writing which I have decided to invoke today. I am using this loop hole to veer away from my scheduled plans to write about Business Ethics in Baking (new Blog to follow soon). 

They say ‘write about what you know’ and I know about #GBBO @BritishBakeOff (The Great British Bake Off for those not on Twitter).

DON’T PANIC this is not some FANBOY rant but I feel the need to describe what the show means to me and why I care. This is seriously important to my own project and will help you understand how this television programme has impacted on every part of my plans to open a tea room. From inspirational baking, to meeting the contestants as their stories unravel to finding fabulous new friends on Twitter who share my passion and enthusiasm for all things #GBBO, who cares? We do!

What on Earth is he talking about?

As you probably know by now, I made my decision way back in June 2010 to ‘bite the bullet’, quit my job and open a tea room. In August 2010 along came Season 1 of the Great British Bake Off which I watched (offline from Twitter) and loved. Season 1 came and went with at least two new shining stars in the baking World born, The Pink Whisk @thepinkwhisk & The Boy Who Bakes @TheBoyWhoBakes

What I have in my head which I call ‘tea room’ can be described as all those quirky little things that make Britain Great. There are many parallels between my tea room idea and what this TV show shows and these are my top ten;

  1. History of food culture in Britain
  2. Unexpected origins and accidental classics
  3. Mel and Sue
  4. Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood
  5. Superstar bakers 
  6. Theatre and the joy of food
  7. Little treats
  8. Indulgence and creativity
  9. Artistic flare
  10. Inventive re-interpretations
Oh Mel and Sue

Many of us still remember and love this paring from the heady days of Light Lunch. What brilliant presenters with awesome comedy talent, surely the embodiment of British Quirkiness. Yes I realise some people don't like them, but this is my Blog and in my book they are HILARIOUS.

Giant Global Cyber Knitting Circle

One of the great joys of this years’ Great British Bake Off has been in having a wonderful open dialogue with contestants, viewers, presenters and producers from the launch of the show to the last nights unmissable final. I hope for many of us as kindred baking spirits we will now keep in touch for the future. It is a brilliantly unique situation to have this personal connection to what is ‘just a tv show’. 

Through Twitter you have access to talk to the real stars of the show about their successes and failures while the show is on air and after. It has been like a giant global cyber knitting circle (or the GGCKC as we shall from now on be known) gossiping, giggling, sharing knowledge and baking, baking, baking! This could only happen with a reality TV show. Take a look at the swelling followers of each of the contestants as the show has progressed, these finalists have great futures in baking and I hope we stay in touch.

For now I would like to write about my experiences of the people who have been on our screens. This is nothing but my personal thoughts and ramblings for a bunch of lovely people who have brought joy to my life and helped me move my dream along a little further...

I Bring You - The 2011 Contestants

Great British Bake Off: The final four from left, Janet, Holly, hosts Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, Mary-Anne and JoanneThe Winner of The Great British Bake Off 2011 
Joanne Wheatley
Blog – Jo’s Blue Aga
Twitter – @joannewheatley
My Bio – Jo is truly a superstar mother. Jo has developed through the show on screen, maintaining a modest and demure lady. Jo’s passion shines through and that has made her so popular with viewers. Jo has been lovely to chat to on Twitter and her Blog reveals more of the baking talent that she demonstrated on screen. It is unusual to have a universally loved winner on this type of show, but Jo has managed it. What a lady! Jo good luck with your Patisserie plans, so very exciting!
My Favourite Jo-ism – Showing her passion to learn and Joan Rivers tweeting @leep84 and Jo in reply to a tweet saying that she "doesn't bake much!"

Great British Bake Off: The final four from left, Janet, Holly, hosts Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, Mary-Anne and JoanneHolly Bell
Twitter – @HollyBellMummy
My Bio – I have felt a real affinity for Holly, from pretty much day one of the show. There are many personality traits she has with which I can identify and many I can not but admire. Mostly I have really enjoyed Holly’s sense of humour and playful side. I think Holly has experienced the most envy and jealousy from random cowardly critics which is a real shame. Holly there is a LOT of love for you out there!
My Favourite Holly-ism – Holly is a perfectionist and very competitive, her joke comment about all the contestants smiling at each other but secretly wishing each other dead is exactly the sort of thing I would say and it was very funny. Ooh and of course the penchant for matching her wardrobe to what she was baking in the early episodes (you know what I mean!)

Great British Bake Off: The final four from left, Janet, Holly, hosts Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, Mary-Anne and JoanneMary-Anne Boermans
Twitter – @wotchers
My Bio – Mary-Anne is an experimenter like the mad scientist of baking! It is fascinating seeing how different people bring their own talents to baking. Mary-Anne has a passion for reading and is clearly an educated lady; researching and trying out new things. This experimentation took her all the way to the final and brought us some memorable creations and creative inspiration. As @wotchers Mary-Anne is a past resident of Cardiff so we share a bond!
My Favourite Mary-Anne-ism – What I love most about Mary-Anne is that it is her kind of experimentation that gave us the recipes we love today. Cooks from years gone by had to get creative and overcome food shortage, trends and fashion. It is one thing to make something that someone else has brilliantly it is quite another to re-invent it entirely.

Janet Basu
Twitter - @janetbasu
My Bio – Janet is the Grandmother we all want. (Sorry Gran I want you too) A real lady and a real star. Janet has come to Twitter only in the last few weeks and as you would expect is articulate and funny when she tweets.
My Favourite Janet-ism – Janets facial expressions are legendary on this programme, her surprise at her own success has been SO endearing.

bakerthumbYasmin Limbert
Twitter - @YasminLambert
My Bio – Yasmin is a great baker and a lovely lady. It has been a pleasure to chat to her online and follow her blog escapades. Yasmin is also one of the only #GBBO stars so far to have won one of my VERY exclusive ‘I Want to Bake Free’ pin badges (it is in the post Yas honest!)
My Favourite Yasmin-ism - Asking "is it sad to be excited to win a pin badge!"

bakerthumbRobert Billington
Twitter – @robertbillingto
My Bio – Well the minute Rob popped up on screen the #GBBO twitter feed became a long list of swooning ladies of a certain age! It was actually hilarious. He was forgiven for any on show baking lapses by those little dimples. Rob is also on Twitter and chats back to most people who send something more than a *wave*.
My Favourite Rob-ism – HAS to be ‘CakeontheFloorGate’ If you didn’t see it, check it out HERE 5 minutes into the clip OUCH!

bakerthumbJason White
My Bio – Jason was brilliant fun and had some amazing skill.
My Favourite Jason-ism – Piping cream into his brandy snaps (which were awesome) his facial expressions and the ‘OH!... oh NO!...’ brilliant.

Ben Frazer
Twitter - @cupcakeartisan1
My Bio – Ben was our feisty fiery contestant who unashamedly made the campest creations using all of his skills as a graphic designer. He clashed with Paul’s abrupt manner and criticism wasn’t easy for him to accept on screen. My Favourite Ben-ism – That pink cake. I mean WOW, that was PINK.

Urvashi Roe
Twitter – @botanicalbaker
My Bio – I don’t have favourites… HONEST but this lady was a joy to watch and I really hope to stay in touch. Urvashi made some beautiful bakes in her time on the show and wowed Mary by researching her edible flowers. Urvashi’s love of nature shines through on her fabulous blog and her talent will surely allow her to put these skills to use in the future. Urvashi sums it all up as "challenging, but fabulous"
My Favourite Urvashi-ism – #replacefilmtitleswithscone!

bakerthumbIan Vallance
My Bio – Charming and funny chap who we didn’t see much of but clearly had a passion for his work.

bakerthumbSimon Blackwell
Blog - Simons Pies
Twitter – @buff_baker
My Bio – Simon has had and is enjoying brilliant success with his Pie business off-screen. We didn’t see him for long but his talents ensure a star in business.
My Favourite Simon-ism – "Keep Calm & Carry On" & not to forget his FABULOUS wife Callie Blackwell @inner_pickle and this Tweet “I once saved a young mans life by clutching his penis....fact!” Check out her blog HERE. BRILLIANT xx

My Bio – Banker turned house husband. Lovely chap too short a time to get an opinion on him.

The Fans

The show has been such fun and sales of baking equipment have gone through the roof in the UK. So along with dragging us out of recession the show has inspired us as a country to get creative. 

The most amazing revelation for me has been all of you bonkers people out there who have been watching each week and chatting back and forth. This is not some bunch of TV weirdo fans but some hilarious, witty, interesting, intelligent, inspirational …. I could go on, but I promised myself I wouldn’t gush! Yes YOU LOT you Twitter folk. By episode 3 of this years series I no longer had to search #GBBO to discuss the show as there you all were on my Newsfeed and oh boy how it came alight each week!


Here are SOME of the Twitter followers that have made it special for me, I advise you to follow them all!...
@Beesloveteas - "One of the most creative shows recently on TV, throwing together a talented group of amateurs bakers from across the UK!"
@inner_pickle - " and his 'keep calm and carry on' quote. :-)"
@wannabefoodie76 - "GBBO makes baking accessible to all .. it brings what ppl only drool over in shops into their own homes & kitchens"
@amandais79 - "fave bit  was last night when Mary & argued on  alcoholic petit fours. Mary loved the alcohol!"


In Summary

Well the series is over for now and it has been brilliant, some real friends made and I am feeling a little more confident about my own plans. Needless to say you will ALL be invited to my opening celebrations and we will have a good old #GBBO party! Xxx David

Of course Special mention has to go to the subject of Squirrels. This bemused me for a long time but here you are if you didn’t spot it… WARNING don’t click on the link if you are easily shocked! #SQUIRRELGATE

*Don't forget all of the above comes from myself with no prejudice, thanks for reading.


  1. This is such a lovely post, I almost welled up reading it, I do feel like the #GBBO community needs to (keep calm and)carry on, my Tuesday nights will be so dull without you all from now on!
    Thank you so much for mentioning that I am part of your GBBO twittersphere! Love this blog and so looking forward to your tea room - I WILL be one of your first visitors - no matter how long the drive is :D

    @riverside baking

  2. Lovely post! Thank you for the mention :o) X

  3. Hi David,
    I have to say that I didn't manage to watch much of the series, but feel as if I know the contestants inside out now.I love the bios on them all. It's a lovely blog. p.s thank you for the mention.

  4. You know it's not over yet - there's are two masterclass episodes from Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood to come plus a follow up of the folks from last year! I won't rest until The Squirrel has his own show....

  5. This is such a lovely write up David. Am honoured to be among your favourites! It was such an amazing experience and has led to so many friends on and offline in this wonderful food community. Thank you again.
    P.s #replacefilmtitleswithscone was a retweet of @nellycupcake :-)

  6. Thank you for the lovely words x David

  7. Great blog! I loved GBBO and felt inspired to try baking new things. It's a great programme for picking up tips and tricks and I enjoyed the food history. I love Mel and Sue too. Looking forward to next year's!

  8. I love this post .. not only because I'm quoted in it ... ahem ... but you have captured the true spirit of us Bonkers British Home Bakers .... we're a fabulously fun breed who love to share with one another ! Long live #GBBO and long live our thriving twitter community xxxxx Thanks for this xxxx


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