Wednesday, 14 September 2016

I'm blaming Brexit for the selling of 'Bake Off'. Bear with me…

Mary Berry looking terrified of a bloody big cake

Of course there is no place for Bake Off in a post Brexit Britain… It was inevitable that the last few things people liked about Britain would be sold to the highest bidder in this Brexit-shaped hell we’ve ended up in. Here’s why...

While I don’t watch The Great British Bake Off, I cannot deny its popularity, nor the all-encompassing love for it that is exuded through every pore of the TV-owning population.

Just a glance at my Twitter or Facebook timelines on a Wednesday evening is enough to indicate the devotion felt for this comfy cooking show among the overwhelming majority of people I know. The national outpouring of anger and grief at the news this week that Channel 4 has poached the show from the BBC for a preposterously huge sum of money is not a shock. It feels like it did the week after Princess Diana died.

And it’s not surprising. After the 52% voted us out of the EU, the grieving 48% who wisely wanted to Remain were ridiculed for our anger and unsympathetically told to “move on” and “get over it”. Given this, the anger and upset at the move of Bake Off (a move which, clearly, will spell its rapid decline in quality and it’s sudden demise in popularity) is inevitable. Just as the rapid decline in quality and the sudden demise in popularity of Britain post-Brexit is inevitable (you didn’t really need me to spell that metaphor out, did you? Did you?!).

Because the values endorsed by Bake Off are the values of old-fashioned Britishness that the Vote Leave-rs wanted to return to. So of course they’re upset - by out-bidding the BBC for Bake Off, nasty old Channel 4 has destroyed the ‘British’ bit of Bake Off that viewers loved. Now it'll just be some unknown glossy haircuts in a field with a bit of undercooked batter. There will be nothing 'Great' or 'British' about it.

Bake Off summed up everything that was quaint and charming and safe about Britain. It was all Mary-Berry-From-Off-Of-The-1950s standing thigh-deep in sponge cake while smiling; naughty but nice Mel and Sue keeping the inhabitants of The Big White Tent in perky order; mildly handsome Paul Hollywood offering gentle criticism of a charred crumpet; while a variety of civilians try their best to whip up a top quality macaroon in a marquee surrounded by lush green grass and pastel coloured bunting. It was an 11-week celebration of safety, cosiness, homeliness, gender stereotypes… it’s a Tory dream. This is everything David Cameron wanted when he had his vision of the Big Society. And where is he now? Oh yes, he didn’t survive the Brexit apocalypse either.

While I’m not suggesting that all Bake Off viewers voted Leave, I’m imagining that about 52% of them did. And those 52% are mourning the symbolic loss of the old-fashioned British values they apparently wanted Britain to return to (where women knew their place, where the grass was always green and the cakes are only ever homemade and perfect). While the 48% of Bake Off viewers who voted Remain have found a more socially acceptable, less politically volatile way to express their Brexit grief, they’re still unhappy. Because nobody is happy in this new post-Brexit landscape. How can you be?

Of course there is no place for Bake Off in a post Brexit Britain. This is what you voted for when you voted Leave. The demise of Bake Off and the out-bidding of your favourite English things to a commercial channel… it’s all just a metaphor for the miserable demise of this country as a result of the 52% who voted us out. You can't have your cake AND eat it.


  1. I hope you won’t mind the contact via the comments box but just wondered if you might be interested:

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  2. I hesitate to write because you're obviously saddened & worried by Brexit & clearly your views are balanced & reasonable (although I don't share them) but I felt I had to point out that amongst the 52% you can count most of the long-standing Pakistani residents of Paige Hall in Sheffield who in the space of a couple of years have found themselves out-numbered 3 to 1 by Eastern European Roma who have no experience of Asian people and are deeply racist. From those I know, they voted Leave because they were tired of seeing their children being bullied and spat at in the street.
    I think that sometimes people forget that the communities which are most likely to find themselves in this position are often quite beleaguered to start with & find the sudden arrival of large numbers of people who despise them very hard to take.