Pop Culture

The Halcyon Days of The Great British Baking Show Are Over

September 14, 2016

Dear United Kingdom:

Here in America, we are as obsessed with The Great British Baking Show as you, despite the fact we get the show a solid year after you’ve watched it. We’re doing our best to suppress our jealousy over the fact that you guys are already enjoying the new season. You’re listening to brand new terrible puns which Mel and Sue have spent an entire year crafting. Mary Berry is forcing everyone to make meringue desserts from 1852 in the pouring rain. Paul Hollywood is completely forgoing both a shirt and walking like a plebeian, and has chosen to amble around the tent on a tiny Shetland pony (I’ve got until next summer to pretend that this is happening so please don’t destroy my fantasies).

You have it so good over there, United Kingdom. Which is why it hurts extra bad when the internet alerted us this week THAT YOU ARE MESSING EVERYTHING UP FOR EVERYBODY.

First we heard that the premiere had higher ratings than nearly everything else on the telly (yes, telly), and we were ecstatic! This is great for baking, great for Paul’s fragile ego—great all around!

Then we heard the show was leaving the BBC for Channel 4. Honestly, we have no idea what Channel 4 is, but we know that when things over here switch channels for more money, it’s the beginning of the end. Just last year, PBS lost Sesame Street to HBO—and both Susan and Gordon have already been killed by the Lannisters.

But now, your national meltdown has gone too far. Mel and Sue have announced they will leave the show once it leaves the BBC. THIS. IS. NOT. OKAY.

They are my imaginary BFFs, the backbone of the show, and my spirit animals for the days where I write these Great British Baking Show recaps and ask: “What would Mel and Sue think of this thinly veiled joke about balls?” If you think it’s easy crafting puns about scones, witty banter about royal icing, or quality jokes about balls, you are wrong, my friends. Wrong.

The halcyon days of The Great British Baking Show are over.

This is a show that gives its winner an engraved platter and a bouquet of flowers instead of a big cash prize. It takes place in a tent, instead of a flashy network studio. There’s no product placement, no backstabbing, no shilling, no sabotage. It’s hugs and friendship and jump cuts to lambs frolicking in a field. But now? The halcyon days of The Great British Baking Show are over. Like everything beautiful in the world, it’s been destroyed by the pursuit of more money.

This show is magic in a bottle, and if there’s one thing history has taught us, it’s that you never, ever, ever fuck with magic in a bottle, because then you break the bottle. That’s exactly why it’s a bottle in the first place and not something more sturdy, like a can.

Mel and Sue, I salute you for sticking to your guns, and if you want to fly me out there so we can have coffee (tea?) and I can help you through this, I’m game. For the rest of you, enjoy these recaps of last season, and tell me what you know about “Channel 4.” Tell me what we can do to get Mel and Sue back. Tell me where we’re all supposed to go from here.

62 Comments

MARIANNE August 24, 2017
Please my heart is breaking..mel sue AND MARY left 😢😢😢😢😢<br />I honestly feel like there's been a death in the family. This show was a part of me. I learned about the word "frangipane" and how can I go on without having Mel and sues' corny jokes. I am beyond sad.
 
Lee-Anne S. September 16, 2016
Isn't the correct name of the show, 'Great British Bake Off'? (Not 'Great British Baking Show')
 
HalfPint September 16, 2016
@Lee-Anne, yes, but in the US, Pillsbury has the registered trademark on "Bake Off". Thus when the show airs Stateside, it's the "Great British Baking Show".
 
nancy S. September 16, 2016
Have see it. Absolutely charming.
 
Dana V. September 15, 2016
If you were on Team Nadiya last year (and who wasn't) hunt around YouTube for her new 2-part show called The Chronicles of Nadiya in which she goes to Bangladesh to explore the food and cooking of her mother country. It is simply wonderful.
 
howcool September 15, 2016
Since you "have no idea what Channel 4 is", you have no business faffing about writing this 'faff piece'.
 
Jo M. September 16, 2016
What a load of rot - it is BECAUSE the writer doesn't know what Channel 4 is that she is smack on the button writing this piece. BTW I am British, and sometimes I wonder what Channel 4 is - even when I'm watching it.
 
Natalie B. September 15, 2016
You have shattered the arlette of my heart...Mel and Sue leaving the mother ship? Say it's not so...
 
nancy S. September 15, 2016
Am watching the current (and obviously last) series now. Just as wonderful as all the ones before. But will now be ruined by moving to Channel 4. Sob. Must say tho that the Australian version of GBBO is shockingly bad! Mel and Sue simply cannot be replaced....and Mary and Paul...well, we've nothing like them out here!! <br />US/Aussie remakes of British TV shows, whatever the genre, are NEVER as well done as the British originals. Networks should stop wasting our time with these dreadful knockoffs...and just import the 'real deal'. And we talk about globalization??? When every country is still so parochial! Open the airwaves and let us all view the high quality BBC productions!!!
 
Author Comment
AllisonRobicelli September 15, 2016
Don't get me started on the American one. There is only one Paul Hollywood, and no one can replace him!!!
 
HalfPint September 16, 2016
Paul was in the American version, but it was sooooo bad (no Mary, Sue, or Mel ), that it didn't even make a dent in the US audience.
 
Tim V. September 17, 2016
I have watched and am currently rewatching all past episodes of the GBBO...and I had to remind myself that even WAS an American version. Now that I remember that there was one, I still don't really remember one single thing about it. It truly must have been that lame...
 
nancy S. September 15, 2016
Am watching the current (and obviously last) series now. Just as wonderful as all the ones before. But will now be ruined by moving to Channel 4. Sob. Must say tho that the Australian version of GBBO is shockingly bad! Mel and Sue simply cannot be replaced....and Mary and Paul...well, we've nothing like them out here!! <br />US/Aussie remakes of British TV shows, whatever the genre, are NEVER as well done as the British originals. Networks should stop wasting our time with these dreadful knockoffs...and just import the 'real deal'. And we talk about globalization??? When every country is still so parochial! Open the airwaves and let us all view the high quality BBC productions!!!
 
Darilyn S. September 15, 2016
I wish I hadn't read this article. *Sigh*
 
jpriddy September 15, 2016
I watched the entire first season on YouTube in solidarity. (The actual first season from back a few years. What we got at the first season was season 5, followed by—wait for it—season 4 presented as season two, and the season 6 as season three. Season 7 will eventually be our season four and the last. But no! There are still the real seasons 2 and 3 to appear on YouTube. Someone will do that, and I will watch them each twice. Or three times.)
 
AnneR September 15, 2016
Do yourself a favor and check out simplyjune.org. (Sometimes you have to get to it through her Facebook page, don't ask me why.) This blessed saint of a woman helped me watch Downtown Abbey at the same(ish) time as the British, and my husband and I are just finishing the real season 3. Once we finish, there is season seven to start!
 
Robin B. September 15, 2016
This is heartbreaking. I am in LOVE with this show. The countryside, the tent, those baking stations, the darling contestants and of course, M & S and M & P.I have been watching old seasons on YouTube. The current season is also being uploaded. You need to click around quite a bit, but it is all there. There is also an Irish version. I have only found one of those episodes, but will hunt on. There is also a show called something like An Extra Slice which reviews the last episode aired. What I crying shame. I will be getting my bakes all soggy with salty tears. GBBS is shown here on PBS. Perhaps they will be able to continue, but it will not be the same.
 
Terri September 15, 2016
Look for the Australian and South African versions - they're every bit as good as the Brits. Irish one, not so much. Extra Slice is a hoot!
 
Carole P. September 15, 2016
This News BREAKS MY HEART .. POO BOO WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
 
Scott W. September 15, 2016
Allison, you are a rock star. I know this is a (relatively) serious issue, and you are being sincere, and I am also not happy to to hear about the situation, loving TGBBS as I do for the same reasons you do. However, that was, hands down, The Funniest Piece I have read in a very long time. I mean, literally clutching my sides roaring with laughter tears on my cheeks funny! I don't think I have every had your baked goods (FYI I am friends with Fany Gerson, my wife Andrea runs NewYorkina), I am sure you are a marvelous chef, but I tell you, no doubt, you could make a storied career out of writing as well.
 
Author Comment
AllisonRobicelli September 15, 2016
Thank you, Scott! My last cookbook came out in 2013, and is available on Amazon and the lot (just search my name). Working on a new one this winter, and looking forward to writing more stuff for Food52 in the future.
 
Savoiardi L. September 15, 2016
Jay Hunt defends #Breadxit<br />https://t.co/mdqf3D8RLK
 
Author Comment
AllisonRobicelli September 15, 2016
But what about Sue and Mel? What about the commercial breaks? This doesn't give us enough answers!
 
Author Comment
AllisonRobicelli September 15, 2016
Side note: kudos to them for the Paralympic coverage. Near impossible to get that here in the States.
 
Jane M. September 15, 2016
Sign a petition to keep GBBO commercial free. There are several online. This one seems to have the most signatures and is the one I signed yesterday. https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/keep-the-great-british-bake-off-on-the-bbc#. It won't accept a US zip code; you have to use a UK postal code.
 
Tom September 14, 2016
If this is true then gone is another of the truly entertaining and educational shows once again. Why is it that we no longer can have a show that is stripped of bells and whistles and just focuses on the art of baking itself. It seems gone are the days when TV was a place to learn something. Instead we are bombarded with shows that insist on taking the art of baking and cooking to the equivalent of a three ring circus. The Julia Child informative style of shows have almost all been replaced with a need for something between speed baking and beat the clock cooking using strange ingredients like cough drops and pickles. People seem to need shows that include baking while standing on one leg or being stripped of utensils and having to work with your eyes closed. While it may make for comical TV it teaches us nothing. TGBBO was a breath of fresh air among what has happened to TV baking shows and I for one will miss it if they change it.
 
alicia September 14, 2016
This is really happening? How could this happen? It was so perfect and comforting. *shakes fist at television corporate decisions*
 
Jo M. September 16, 2016
Obviously there are lots of people giving their views as to why this has happened. The primary reason is that the BBC has an antediluvian way of categorizing various programmes. The GBBO was categorised as a 'factual programme' and there is a cap on what can be spent on factual programmes. If they had re-classified it as an 'entertainment programme' there would have been a higher budget - enough to keep the show with the BBC. But the old farts who run the Beeb wouldn't go there, so they lost it - and as a result we all lose out. The Beeb are adept at killing the goose that lays the golden egg - first it was 'Top Gear' with Clarkson and Co, and now the GBBO. I despair of the idiots who run programming on the BBC.
 
Lauren September 14, 2016
Has anyone confirmed the story that when a contestant has a meltdown in the tent and Mel and/or Sue go to comfort them they have been known to start spouting name brands and profanity so that the footage can't be aired? It was mentioned here http://www.newstatesman.com/culture/tv-radio/2015/10/cake-or-death-why-great-british-bake-best-thing-television
 
Author Comment
AllisonRobicelli September 14, 2016
Well this just makes me love them more, and makes the news 10000x more heartbreaking.
 
Terri September 14, 2016
I'm shattered as well. Sigh. Happens every time something is so so so good. <br /><br />If you can find them, there are Bakeoff shows in Oz and South Africa that are every bit as good! (I'm in the US and watch on pirate TV, where I also get An Extra Slice.)
 
catherine M. September 14, 2016
This explains every. single. thing. I'm feeling right now. Thank you Allison.