Forget Harry and Meghan being all happy, forget that week when KFC ran out of chicken, and forget all of the royal babies that we’re currently expecting – at least just for a minute. The official best news of 2018 so far is that every BBC episode of The Great British Bake Off has been added to Netflix. You better cancel any weekend plans you might have had, as you’ve got some serious viewing to do.
GBBO began back in 2010, before anyone had even heard of things like Snapchat, Brexit and Prue Leith (well, not as many people). Paul Hollywood only had a hint of his future silver-fox locks and Mary Berry was not the bright jacket-donned Mary we have come to know and love. Her style transformation since the first series pretty much makes her the Neville Longbottom of her generation.
Rewatching the very first series is almost like watching a completely different programme. There’s actually very little baking – seriously. There’s a whole tonne of stuff on the history of baking, and the actual judging of the bakes is absolutely rapid.
In fact, Mel and Sue are so busy swotting up on cake facts that Paul’s left to tell the bakers how long they have left on each challenge. That’s not his job! And then Mary and Paul taste everything so quickly it’s enough to give you indigestion. We can’t keep up.
Another totally disorientating element to early Bake Off is the fact that the famous white tent moves around the country for each episode. One week, you’re in a car park in Derbyshire, the next, by the sea in Cornwall. It’s a bit like Dr Who. But without the monsters. Or time travel, but you get our point.
The white tent’s strange locations mean it’s really easy for members of the public to look inside and see what’s going on. Imagine peering inside and seeing TV history unfold right in front of your eyes but not even knowing that that’s what was happening. Imagine seeing the tent in your local town centre car park and not even knowing what it was. But imagine being one of those people and legit being able to say ‘I was on Bake Off!’ Mind-boggling.
No one’s bothered about the audience gathering outside, perhaps thinking they’ve stumbled across a crime scene though. In fact, no one’s really that bothered about anything. There are production crew roaming through the tent willy nilly, cameras in shot and paramedics strolling by. We’re telling you, Prue would not stand for this.
In series one, there’s no weekly Star Baker either, which seems a bit mean-spirited, but then we thought about it, and some of the challenges are definitely much easier than they are today. The brief for the very first signature challenge is so broad, the bakers are told to just ‘make a cake’. What?! Anyone can do this! We’re entering now. And bagging Star Baker.
By the time we make it to the final of series one (which only has six episodes, so you can easily binge-watch this in a day…probably…we wouldn’t know…) everyone’s so disorientated that Mary and Paul have an actual five-hour argument that gets pretty heated about which bakers should be in the final two. Yep, they only let two bakers do the final show-stopper. Prue would not be this harsh.
Finally, we have to give a special shout-out to baker Mark, who is the first GBBO contestant to succumb to tears in episode one after his marmalade cake sinks in the middle. There might have been a lot of changes over the years, but one thing’s for sure, Bake Off has always been an emotional rollercoaster.