Great British Bake-Off review: 'Nice' is no longer a dirty word, thanks to Alison Hammond and the Bake-Off tent
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But to me, and to the makers of The Great British Bake-Off (Channel 4, Weds, 8pm), 'nice' is something to be aspired to, and not just the name of a biscuit.
The series returned this week, and much seemed the same – the jaunty theme tune, Paul's ever-so-slightly too stiff silver quiff, Prue's chunky jewellery and Noel Fielding's eyeliner, which sometimes seems to have been applied with a piping bag.
Meanwhile, the Bake-Off tent is still a thing of middle class aspiration, a John Lewis window dresser's fever dream of pastels and bunting and five hundred quid Kitchen-Aid mixers.
There could have been a disruptor this series, in the form of Noel's new co-host Alison Hammond.
The This Morning sofa-dweller and renowned Harrison Ford amuser has replaced Matt Lucas, and you worried her gale-force personality might have swamped the calm of the tent, but she is such a professional – and, yes, a nice person – that she seemed to understand the gig totally, and her brand of smiling bonhomie certainly injected a new energy to the show.
A mob-based pre-show skit with Paul as 'The Breadfather' welcoming Alison to the Bake-Off 'family' fell a little flat, but once we were off and running with the actual baking, the whole thing felt as warm and snuggly as a fleece-lined slanket.
First off, a vertical layer cake – which was basically a Swiss roll turned on its end. Obviously, they all looked delicious, even charity worker Tasha's effort, which Paul claimed looked like someone had sat on it.
Meanwhile Dan – who brews his own beer, fact fans – made a rhubarb and custard affair which looked like a “tiny circus tent”, but apparently tasted much better than sawdust and acrobat's sweat.
Dan - whose potted bio at the start made me went to go and live with him and his family, so nice did it seem – looks like the early favourite.
His chocolate cake for the technical challenge went pretty well, and he made a cake replica of his dog, Bruno, for the showstopper which looked so amazing it almost barked.
Much like Formula 1 or Ski Sunday, however, some of the best bits on Bake-Off are the disasters. Think baked alaskas being chucked in the bin or tier cakes slowly sliding off plates.
We didn't have anything quite on that level – a bit of liquid ganache was the worst it got – but there were still some tears before the timers went off to announce Star Baker, and the first to exit the tent.
The first episode of any series of Bake-Off is always the worst, as you haven't emotionally invested in any of the contestants. However, I reckon former flight attendant Nicki and chartered accountant Keith look to be good value.
I've already got my eye on Saku, a mild-mannered baker who I reckon hides the Blackpool Illuminations under a bushel. First off, she's an intelligence analyst. Secondly, she's an intelligence analyst from Hereford, home of the SAS – and who bakes wins.
But they all seem 'nice', which in Bake-Off world is the highest praise.
To Bake-Off, 'nice' is the dozen new bakers in the famous tent being supportive of one another. Nice is creativity, warmth, gentle good humour. Nice is not being too upset at a collapsed sponge or curdled buttercream, and not being too pleased at a crispy biscuit or fluffy loaf.
And with the world in the mess it's in, nice is something we could all do with. Nice is something we should all be. Nice is good enough.