Everyone who has ever appeared on The Great British Bake Off is loveliness incarnate. They’re all sweetness and bunting and lemon curd. In a way, they’re all winners.
However, with a new series of The Great British Bake Off starting next week, it’s fallen to me to rank the chances of the new contestants based purely on their publicity photos and biographies. Feelings are about to get hurt. I am a monster.
A lamb to the slaughter. Just 20 years old, and occupied by a politics degree he’ll never use, Michael looks like he only entered GBBO as a bit of fun. This is not a bit of fun, Michael. These people are piranhas. One wrong move and Mary Berry won’t stop until her fists are covered in your blood. Do you have what it takes to deal with pressure like that, Michael? Do you?
Val’s bio states that she is a retired head teacher who can often be found doing aerobics in her kitchen. Do you honestly think Mary Berry can allow this sort of thing on her show? She is GBBO’s agile yet authoritarian matriarch, and Val is invading her turf. Either Mary will vote her off early, or there’ll be one hell of a punch-up on the lawn.
Oh Tom. There is only ever room for one dreamy man-baby in each series of Bake Off. More than that and the audience’s maternal instincts go haywire, and they start kissing and cradling loose bundles of unwashed clothing in their shaking arms. Unfortunately Tom has been out-man-babied this year, and is therefore doomed to an early exit.
The fact that Louise’s biography contains the phrase “elaborate designs” should come as no surprise to anyone who’s seen her blouse. It is less a garment and more a magic-eye puzzle, which suggests that Louise is this year’s Icarus. She’ll soar too close to the sun by attempting to recreate Escher’s House of Stairs in filigree sugar work before crashing to Earth with a thump.
Lee is a lovely twinkly grandfather who works as a pastor and plays cricket. By rights he should sail to the semi-finals with ease. However, his bio says that “he doesn’t tend to veer too far from the norm”, which means that he’ll lose his mind, make a horsemeat and savoury custard tart in Pastry Week and go home with his tail between his legs.
Candice is a young and conventionally attractive woman, which is never good news. By week three, the internet will have decided that Paul Hollywood is giving her preferential treatment. By week five, she’ll avoid elimination and the internet will call it a stitch-up. One week after that she’ll devote her life to forlornly trying to placate angry, all-caps Twitter eggs, and then she’ll be in the papers saying she regrets ever going on the bloody show in the first place. Poor Candice.
Selasi works in banking and lives in London, which means the audience is already firmly weighted against him. If he represented the metropolitan elite any harder, he’d spend the duration of the challenges playing Pokemon Go while getting a black forest gateau Deliverooed in from Islington Ottolenghi. He’s not only baking to win, he’s baking to save the reputation of the entire banking industry. He’d better be good.
Jane will go far. Her grandfather owned a bakery and she’s been baking since she was six years old. However, in her biography she made the mistake of stating that she isn’t good at making macarons or ciabatta. This can only hurt her chances in the newly created Macarons and Ciabatta (Screw You Jane) Week.
According to her bio, Benjamina has “a twin sister who is her biggest critic”. Reading between the lines, it seems clear that Benjamina only entered GBBO to prove once and for all that she is better than her loudmouth ingrate sister. You should not mess with a force of pure spite like this.
I know nothing of Rav; of his dreams or experiences or desire to succeed. But I will say this: Rav is holding that wooden spoon dangerously high up. Clearly, this is a man who doesn’t care whether he gets blue gunk all over the carpet. Rav is a rebel, the wild card of the series. He’s The Joker. He’s Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon. He’s an unexploded timebomb. He will do well.
In terms of both biography and appearance, Kate is perfectly inoffensive to the point of outright anonymity. Given the history of the Bake Off, this means she will do nothing of interest in the entire series and then inexplicably come second.
Tom’s nemesis. Not only does Andrew have the adorable man-baby face that traditionally sends viewers into fits of uncomfortably maternal lust, but he’s also a straight-A student who designs jet engines for Rolls-Royce. He’s got the looks. He’s got the technical prowess. He is bound to win the series, unless your mum invades the marquee halfway through and begs him to run off and marry you instead of your boyfriend, who she hates.
The Great British Bake Off returns to BBC One on Wednesday 24 August at 8pm.
This article was written by Stuart Heritage, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 16th August 2016 06.00 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010