The Great British Bake Off effect

Paul and Mary – as comfortable as a Victoria sponge! Photo BBC.Almost everyone you speak to loves the Great British Bake Off! But what is it that makes watching a group of unknown people struggle to create cakes and pies and breads in a very large tent such compelling TV? How did the idea ever get off the ground?

I absolutely love watching it, but I was already a huge Mary Berry fan, but even friends who don’t really like cakes seem addicted to it as well. Sales of cake tins, icing bags and food processors have gone through the roof and supermarkets and shops instantly sell out of unusual ingredients when they are featured in an episode. The programme seems to bring people together, is inspiring and has put the ‘home’ back into home baking. Children all over the country are now happy to be in the kitchen and being creative with their parents – and that surely all has to be a good thing. 

This year’s bakers. Photo BBC.I read recently that the people who created the programme took four years to be able to sell the idea to a TV company. And fortunately for all of us, it was a lady at BBC2 who finally understood the concept. I hadn’t realised, but the whole thing was inspired by the fact that there’s a baking competition at every summer fete in Britain – so obvious when you think about it! And, of course, summer fetes are held in marquees… so that’s why The Great British Bake Off is filmed in an enormous tent!

When I was writing my first novel, ‘A Sticky End’, with my pen pal Julia, the local cake baking competition was a key theme in the book – little had I realised how closely aligned it was to the Great British Bake Off! Perhaps we missed a trick there and could have got Mary Berry or Paul Hollywood along to be a guest judge? No? Oh well… just a thought.

Inside the famous Bake Off tent! Photo BBC.The current series seems to be shaping up really well and I have already been wowed by some of the bakes, and giggled over some of the others that haven’t gone quite as planned! I love the whole ‘feel’ of the show, it is so comforting and British, rather like a jolly good Victoria sponge – sweet, delicious and light and fluffy!

So what are your thoughts on the current series? Who do you think looks a likely winner?

PS. Talking of my novels… book three in the Swaddlecombe series is n-e-a-r-l-y there! I will keep you posted on when it will be published.


3 replies
  1. Caroline says:

    can't wait for the new book! have read the first two! sooo good! really good read, couldn't put it down! have them on kindle. hope there will be many more books please Joanna! xx

  2. Rosemarie says:

    Hi Joanna, it is compelling viewing isn't it. My ten year old Grandson is really taken with it, so much so we are having to have mini Bake Offs all the time. It us costing me a fortune in ingredients, but although slightly biased, he is very good. His comments when watching are brilliant and I see a rather ruthless food critic in the making. Rosemarie xx

  3. Tracy W says:

    I think it's some of the best viewing on tv! You said you have friends who watch who don't like cakes – I'm not sure I understand the concept of not liking cakes, lol! I love Mary Berry's books as they are so well presented, really clear to follow and the photography is great.

    I'm so pleased the next Swaddlecombe novel is nearly ready, I've been bursting at the seams with excitement for this next installment, having read the very first one whilst undergoing treatment for breast cancer myself. When book two arrived everything stopped until I had finished it, I've been lost waiting for book three!

    Creative Blessings, Tracy x


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