It felt like the closing ceremony of the Olympics all over again last night when the BBC’s other 2012 TV triumph, the Great British Bake Off, ended its current season, crowning John Whaite the rightful and glorious winner in a haze of icing, umbrellas and past contestants.
At Focus PR, John was the bookie’s favourite, closely followed by experimental Scot James Morton. Our desk pod mused that both had ‘commercial value’ and ‘we could do all sorts of things with those two’ (we were talking in a PR sense!). And it seems other people thought the same: John is already writing a baking book and we’re sure we haven’t seen the last of James and his maverick creations.
The show’s beautifully simple plot and a myriad of characters we can all relate to in one sense or another have made the Great British Bake Off a recipe for success. It also taps into revivalism and nostalgia trends, and a yearning for the simple pleasures in life (even if there’s nothing simple about making a show-stopping chiffon cake).
Over 5.6 million people tuned in to the finale, beating the ratings for Holby City over on BBC1 (and prompting the Beeb to consider a move to BBC1 for series 4), while just typing the word ‘great’ into Google this morning brought up the Great British Bake Off as the first topic.
Just like the Olympics, the Great British Bake Off engaged people of all ages and demographics up and down the country and is already forming its own legacy. Numerous retailers – including John Lewis and Waitrose – have been reporting a sales fillip now known as ‘the Great British Bake Off effect’. In the throes of putting in a new kitchen, I went into Homebase specifically looking for one of the Neff ovens where the door slides underneath – featured on the show – and asked the sales assistant if they stocked one, to which she replied, ‘Oh you want the one from the Great British Bake Off.’