Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
  2. UK Politics
22 September 2016updated 03 Aug 2021 2:17pm

Why I’m proud to be the office Bake Off skeptic

I don't care how cheerful my colleagues find it - the world needs fewer anodyne young men with big dreams and bad icing.

By Stephanie Boland

I have a confession: one that my colleagues know – and consider aberrant – but the wider world does not.

I don’t like the Great British Bake Off.

I’m not even a cooking show skeptic. I fancy Michel Roux Jr as much as the next person (or at least I did, until my mum professed he reminded her of my dad and I suddenly felt a bit weird about the whole thing). I even went through a phase, as an undergraduate, of watching River Cottage on Channel 4 catch up – as good a way of avoiding reading WB Yeats as any.

No: It’s worse than that. I’m a true heretic. I hate Bake Off not for its concept, but for its very Bake Off-ness. I hate it for its unique style. I hate it for the things my colleague Anna uses to assess how Bake Off each episode of the Bake Off is.

Here’s why.

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy

Mel and Sue

I am very fond of both Mel and Sue, individually and on different programs. The news that they worked hard to keep Bake Off nice, partially by standing, swearing, near crying contestants in order to make the footage impossible to broadcast, endears them further.

Content from our partners
The cost-of-living crisis is hitting small businesses – Liz Truss must act
How industry is key for net zero
How to ensure net zero brings good growth and green jobs

And yet: it is hard to escape the fact that the most damaging lie in English culture is that middle-class innuendo is funny.

My colleagues tell me this is my fault and that I do not get the joke, which is that Mel and Sue are not funny. I am not sophisticated enough to find something funny because it is not funny. I just find it not funny.

Paul Hollywood

I don’t love to hate him; I just hate him. Mediocre, snidey men in public life make me depressed.

If I wanted to watch a man ramble on, having incomprehensibly been given a role for which he is no way qualified, I’d watch Derek Acorah’s back catalogue of Most Haunted.


Mary Berry

Nominative determinism: suspect.

Boring contestants

Nadiya Hussain and Tamal Ray were fantastic – I’m not a monster – but why not just read Nadiya in the Times, or follow them on Twitter? You can get all the joy of the show’s more compelling characters without having to watch some blandly attractive man called Tim or Eoin – I don’t know their names; they could all be the same man in different shirts as far as I’m concerned – cock up a profiterole and talk about his “journey”.

On that note.

People going on “journeys”

I hate journeys. Ban this word from television.

Cakes are not that great. . .

. . .and they cannot save us. People who have tried to convince me about the Bake Off say they see it as a gorgeous ray of sunshine in our dark times. It is not, because cake is nothing.

Cf the best response to today’s news:

Perhaps I’ll enjoy it more on Channel 4.