The Great British Bake Off
Channel 4, Tuesday night
There were teetering towers of cake, innuendos aplenty – and a meltdown in a fridge. Prue was dressed as a dolly mixture, Paul scowled like a pantomime baddie and Noel made contestants kiss a ‘psychic’ wooden spoon.
As Bake Off finals go, it was one of the best: Silly, family-friendly entertainment that felt so wonderfully normal that it almost made us forget we’re in the middle of a pandemic.
Indeed, this whole series has been an exercise in glorious, calorie-laden escapism.
Who among us hasn’t longed, on these glum autumnal evenings of soaring infections and grim fatality reports, to be transported to the Bake Off bubble, a land of eternal sunshine and gingham-tented loveliness, where the worst thing that can happen is a soggy bottom?
Paul Hollywood, left, and Prue Leith, right, stant with the Great British Bake Off 2020 winner Peter Sawkins, 20, centre
No wonder it was such a ratings-winner – with 10.8million viewers, the series opener was the most popular show on Channel 4 since 1985.
But all good things must come to an end and, having lost fan favourites Hermine, Mark and ‘Hottie Lottie’, just three remained for last night’s grand finale.
Twenty-year-old finance student Peter Sawkins – dubbed the ‘baby-faced assassin’ – was the bookies’ choice from the start.
Flying the flag for Scotland by putting whisky and porridge oats into everything, the self-confessed Bake Off nerd’s attention to detail had twice won him Star Baker.
His wholesomeness verged on irritating (he doesn’t drink, has never tried fried food and instead of swearing says ‘Jeepers Creepers’) but his skill – inspired by watching the show – was never in doubt.
‘I think I wanted to get here since I was 11 or 12,’ he said, making us all feel about 100 years old.
Twenty-year-old finance student Peter – dubbed the ‘baby-faced assassin’ – was the bookies’ choice from the start. Pictured, adding a final touch to his showstopper
Then there was Dave Friday, 31, a steely-eyed security guard whose competitiveness divided viewers.
Dull but determined, he was only able to enter Bake Off because he was on furlough and became a dad during filming, effortlessly ticking the ‘emotional backstory’ box.
And not forgetting lovely Laura Adlington, 31, she of the lopsided Freddie Mercury cake bust in episode one, who hadn’t a hope in hell of winning and managed to make more mess than a toddler let loose in the kitchen – but had us rooting for her.
In the end, of course, it was Perfect Peter who pipped the others to the glass trophy, but not without some Bake Off-style melodrama along the way.
Lovely Laura Adlington (pictured), 31, she of the lopsided Freddie Mercury cake bust in episode one, who hadn’t a hope in hell of winning and managed to make more mess than a toddler let loose in the kitchen – but had us rooting for her
Dave Friday (pictured), 31, was a steely-eyed security guard whose competitiveness divided viewers. Dull but determined, he was only able to enter Bake Off because he was on furlough and became a dad during filming, effortlessly ticking the ‘emotional backstory’ box
Laura fell at the first hurdle, failing to set her yuzu custard in the signature challenge, culminating in her sticking her head inside the fridge for a cry. ‘I don’t want a hug, just leave me alone,’ she wailed.
Just 15 minutes in and she was out of the running. She couldn’t even turn to hubby Matt for a hug. This year’s restrictions meant stilted video messages from home were all finalists got.
Peter, meanwhile, had whipped up two different custards (whisky and porridge, naturally) while earnestly telling viewers that six weeks in an Essex hotel bubble with his fellow contestants was the longest he’d ever spent away from home. ‘This has shaped me,’ he said, a worrying thought.
Next came the technical, set by Prue: A walnut whirl filled with coffee-flavoured ganache. ‘I hate coffee; can’t stand the taste, can’t stand the smell,’ said Laura, seemingly resigned to her fate.
Fancy a kiss? Noel introduces Dave to his ‘psychic’ wooden spoon
With the temperature in the tent soaring to 36C (97F), it was mayhem. Matt Lucas started handing out tea towels from the freezer and even Peter failed to temper – melt and cool to ensure a glossy finish – his chocolate perfectly.
‘If I’m being honest, I’m slightly dissatisfied,’ he said. The results – blobs of brown mush not dissimilar to sheep droppings – were distinctly underwhelming.
Dave’s won him first place, with Peter second and Laura third.
The showstopper was a proper barmy Bake Off number: A dessert tower comprising a cake with three other bakes sitting on top – the sort of thing that simply doesn’t exist outside the TV tent.
Laura plumped for all her favourite creations: Carrot cake, macarons, key lime tart and Chelsea buns. ‘I just want to do myself proud,’ she trilled.
Dave chose the risky option, redoing all his failed bakes from the series, while Peter went all out with a puffed rice Christmas tree on top of a Victoria sandwich, studded with Battenberg biscuits.
After a ‘minorly concerning’ moment when he couldn’t cut his biscuits correctly, Perfect Peter was back on track. ‘I think I was just being a silly billy,’ he smiled. Bless him!
Dave finished early and loitered in the background with a smug smile, tucking into choux buns as the others frantically finished their towers.
It was, Paul said, ‘as close to a draw as I’ve ever seen’. Peter – the youngest ever Bake Off champ – said: ‘I can’t quite believe that I am here. I wanted this a lot, when I was 12 I was watching repeats of Bake Off back to back. I think 12-year-old Peter would be in awe.’
He may have been a predictable winner, but if ever we could do with a bit of predictability, positivity and youthful enthusiasm (with lashings of porridge oats and whisky), it’s now.
Tuesday evenings will be a little bit gloomier from here on in. In a year that has been nothing short of a great let-down, Bake Off 2020 really rose to the occasion.