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1 October 2015

The Great British Bake Off: It’s official – Nadiya is this year’s finest contestant

Over her time in the tent Nadiya’s confidence levels have soared; and she has slowly started to believe in her talent as much as the rest of the British nation.

By Helen Thomas

Semi-finals were BBC One’s dish of the day in last night’s episode of the Great British Bake Off. Just when we thought the show couldn’t produce any more food porn, they did a WHOLE SHOW dedicated to chocolate. To clarify, that meant chocolate tarts with a chocolate filling and chocolate pastry and chocolate toppings, chocolate soufflé with chocolate crème pat, and chocolate centrepieces with white chocolate features and chocolate biscuits. Rather puts my chocolate digestives to shame. Unfortunately, Flora was sent home after producing beautiful pieces without the right taste. But she did give us one more blast of her catchphrase before leaving: “I’m just making my macarons!”

Chocolate fantasies aside, the GBBO semis were the final affirmation needed to prove that Nadiya is without a doubt the finest contestant in this year’s fling of the competition. It’s not just that she made a blue peacock and pearly eggs and walked home with Star Baker for the third time. In Nadiya we find a baker who embodies everything that is wonderful about Bake Off. She’s clever, interesting, bold, funny and dedicated, and doesn’t even realise her own brilliance.

The first time Nadiya won Star Baker, she said: “My kids are going to be really proud and my husband is going to be so proud. And it’s weird because I’m never proud of myself. But I’m actually really proud of myself.” She melted my cold poor heart as she realised for the first time, she was a special lady. When she won the title again in the Quarter Finals, she said: “I’m so excited I could streak down this river.” After every disaster she comes back fighting. After her fortune cookie box cracked she returned the next week with a curry filled orange bread snake. When her vol-au-vents rolled over, she brought extra flare to her Victorian week creations. And when she almost decided soufflé was enough to make her “NEVER BAKE AGAIN”, she decided to make a blue peacock out of chocolate and rice crispies.

This week she told Radio Times: “Originally, I was a bit nervous that perhaps people would look at me, a Muslim in a headscarf, and wonder if I could bake… just because I’m not a stereotypical British person, it doesn’t mean that I am not into bunting, cake and tea.” I never really know what “British values” refers to when bandied around by politicians or on the Britain First Facebook page, but hazarding a guess I’d say kind, talented, humble and hardworking Nadiya possesses them.

So whether or not she wins next week is sort of irrelevant. Over her time in the tent Nadiya’s confidence levels have soared; and she has slowly started to believe in her talent as much as the rest of the British nation. Surely this, and not chocolate, is what GBBO is all about.

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