Gotta Focaccia’em All

It’s been a shocking year: most of the British entertainment royalty died within a month of each other, Trump is running for President of the United States, Britain voted itself out of the EU. But I thought I’d make my first blog entry about the real national crisis at hand. The Bake Off is moving to Channel 4.

There was a horrifying moment where I had to contemplate it airing on ITV, and we all thought we were going to have to give up watching for good. Let’s face it, who could cope with the Bake Off sandwiched betwixt Tipping Point and Judge Rinder? However, it turned out it had gone to Channel 4 which, while not ideal, was definitely the better of the available options.

Relief was short lived.

I’m kind of pleased Mel and Sue didn’t ‘go with the dough’. I’m happy that the people involved realised this show was meant for the BBC, was nurtured and loved by and on the BBC. But it leaves a hole and I’m really worried about who’s going to fill it. As former contestant, Richard Burr, said: Channel 4 have, essentially, just bought themselves a very expensive tent. So who should they get to stand in it?

I feel there’s really only one answer to this question, and it isn’t anyone I’ve seen mentioned by the bookmakers.

The joy of Mel & Sue was that they were us. While other presenters smile vacantly into the camera and ask people how they’re feeling, Mel & Sue just eat all the food and make bad puns about baps. It’s like they reached into the minds of the nation at large and plucked out our thoughts. Mel leans on the proving dough of contestants by accident, and Sue eats all their ingredients before they’ve had chance to use them. It’s not airbrushed, polished presenting to camera, it’s lightening the mood and allowing joyous, pleasant television to occur around them.

I don’t know about anyone else, but that’s all I want from Bake Off. An hour where I can be consumed by cakes and pastry, without being spoken to like I’m watching a segment on the One Show.

So the new presenters should, surely, be us too? I look imploringly at previous contestants, Tamal and Nadiya.

I’m going to try very hard not to burst into capslock about the amount I love both of these people, but I CAN’T PROMISE ANYTHING. See? It happens spontaneously. Hard to control, like hiccups when I’ve eaten an entire loaf of bread too quickly by accident.

I can’t help but think these are the bakers who have best represented the show’s audience out of all the million contestants we’ve got through in the last seven series. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved most of them (especially James. Sweet, knit-clad, beer-brewing, derelict-barn-building James. I love you James. Sorry. Did I mention I love James?) but there was something about Tamal and Nadiya that just represented. Me, at least, though obviously I can’t speak for all.

Nadiya’s face during every critique, Tamal waxing lyrical about that sandwich he ate years ago and still thinks about, they’re just little things which point me to the idea of them being able to do that, but more, given the opportunity. I’d better take a moment to pop in the fact that I ‘like’ pretty much every tweet Tamal ever makes, and that I’m not 100% convinced his Twitter account isn’t just me, tweeting under an alternate account when I’m asleep because I’m fairly certain he is me. Even if I’m neither a man nor a doctor. So this hope of him on Bake Off once again might just be slightly biased.

I feel it’s a valid enough suggestion to keep in though, personal agenda aside. They’ve both got a bit of presenting experience under their belts now; Nadiya with her Chronicles of Nadiya (you see, she’s already got the puns down) and Tamal with his upcoming Channel 4 health-related show. PLEASE LET THEM, CHANNEL 4, COME ON, IT’S ONLY RIGHT AND FAIR. I mean. Er, surely this could at least put them in the running?

When Nadiya won, she spoke to the camera, to us at home, about how she would never again say she couldn’t do things, because she can and she will. It had the heart the show has always had, but highlighted it perfectly. It’s just a baking show, right? But it’s not, because it’s Bake Off, guys. We can’t let it die. I can’t help but think if it gets the presenters people are talking about, it’d be like adopting a kitten when it was tiny, nurturing it through infancy, watching it grow and thrive, then hitting it over the head with a shovel.

I don’t want grinning ninny presenters. I don’t want gloss and glamour, or contestants being asked to reveal sob stories while they’re trying not to split their custard. I want innuendos and charm, individuality and laughter. Lord knows, the world needs a bit of that at the moment. I don’t want Ant and Dec gurning at the camera or stick thin models who look like they’d faint at the thought of even touching a Chelsea bun, never mind eating one. I want someone who watches Bake Off like I watch Bake Off, with a sausage roll in my hand and joy in my heart.

I want Tamal and Nadiya. Who’s with me?