The Great British Baking Show is debuting on PBS.
Called Bake Off in the U.K., it features 12 amateur bakers competing to bake the most amazing cakes, biscuits, breads, and desserts, to be then judged by a woman who everyone wishes were their grandmother (Mary Berry) and a man with amazing sex eyes (Paul Hollywood). It’s one of the biggest shows in the U.K., with 12.3 million people watching this year’s finale. And also, quite frankly, it’s one of the best.
1. Everyone in it is really, really quite nice.
Unlike other reality shows where judges and contestants bend over backward to be mean to one another, here contestants praise and even help one another’s bakes if they need a hand. There’s also no prize for the eventual winner, just glory.
2. The bakes, by the way, are orgasmic to look at.
You learn that it can be incredibly hard to make such creations, so you don’t get this kind of “I should be in the kitchen making this instead of watching TV” feeling.
3. They show drawings of what each contestant is about to bake, and they’re orgasmic to look at too.
You’ll also hear the words “you have four hours” to bake for some challenges, which is unusual for TV; on many other cooking shows, contestants have just minutes to cook.
4. The show is full of sexual innuendo.
There’s so much in this show. I’ve counted and there are 11 sexual innuendos in the first episode of the new season alone. That’s one nearly every five minutes.
Many people just watch for the sexual innuendo.
You start to think that it’s done on purpose.
You can’t avoid it.
5. Even though everyone is nice, it doesn’t mean that both Mary and Paul don’t dish out criticism.
You convince yourself that a cake being presented to the judges is perfect. You whisper to your friend sitting next to you that it is quite simply the best cake. Then Paul scrapes the side with a fork, criticizes the structure, laments the topping, and then shakes his head. “I KNEW IT,” you then lie.
6. In fact, their criticisms feel a lot more crushing than other cooking shows, because they feel so personal.
As everyone gets on so well with the judges, giving them a bad bake feels like you’re letting them down. There’s also something called “The Mary Berry Death Stare,” which you get if you do not use your own fondant.
7. Mary has made the same criticism so many times that these two words have become an unintentional catchphrase.
When you hear them, you can’t help giving out some sort of cheer. There’s also been an awful lot of attention given to how she pronounces “layers.” Look out for it.
8. The presenters, Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins? They don’t take themselves and presenting this show too seriously.
It’s so refreshing to have presenters who don’t treat the show as if it’s The Matrix and actually have fun throughout. One episode started with the line, “Welcome back to Somerset. The tension is mounting in the tent and also in my waistband.”
9. They spend much of the show poking fun at the contestants, or accidentally spoiling their bakes.
10. The show’s highest moment of tension comes when the contestants check that their bake is ready in the oven.
11. The contestants can’t open the oven to check on their bake in case it isn’t ready, so instead they stare.
Something like 30% of the show consists of this and it is amazing.
This is edge-of-your-seat stuff.
So what else should you look out for in this season?
12. There’s a contestant called Norman, and oh my god he is absolutely everything you want in life.
I don’t want to reveal too much before the start of the season, but he’s Scottish and he spends his days walking his dog in the Highlands wearing a flat cap.
13. And a challenge involving this cake developed into a huge controversy, creating headlines in the British press for something like three days.
This is not an exaggeration — this actually happened. It was a moment of madness in this season that takes place in the last 15 minutes of the fourth episode. You can read about it here, but be warned it contains *massive spoilers*.
The Great British Baking Show starts on PBS on Dec. 28 at 8 p.m. Some PBS stations will show at other times.
Check your local listings for more details.