Mary Berry


Each day in Advent I will be celebrating one of the TV heroines of 2016 -as let’s face it, it has been a pretty sucky year, and we could all use some female fictional icons to take our mind off Brexit, Trump, and the general doomsday vibe!

Why a heroine and not a hero? Well one of the reasons I am such a TV fanatic is that the genre seems to be far more ‘equal-opportunities than it’s film relation. No longer are the fairer sex subjected to the role of love interest or sister – they are now allowed to be rulers, protagonists, and saviours of mankind. This is both forward-thinking and inspiring, as, let’s face it, a story with twice as many complex characters is twice as interesting!

10th December:

Heroines: Mel and Sue

My first non-fictional heroines. Without Mel and Sue the Bake Off would have been a soggy bottomed affair.Their humble warmth and surreal humour were the perfect companion to Mary Berry’s expertise. Not only did they hold the hands of many contestants during baking catastrophes, but they also quit when money got in the way of the family fun. All hail Mel and Sue – the warm-hearted pun experts who will be as sorely missed as the cakes upon the gingham altar.

Top Mel and Sue moments up to 2016

1.Their puns



2. Their gift of prophecy



3. Their dramatic exit





First it made headlines for its astonishing viewing figures. Who knew kneading, proving and well endowed squirrels would be such a TV hit?! But hit it was. And the bigger the buzz around the bakers and their gingham alter, the greater the viewership became, until the good old Beeb was moved to transfer their culinary phenomenon – their number one TV show moved to their number one channel.

Nadiya’s victory was the cherry on their bakewell – a passionate baker with a tremendous range of facial expressions who became beloved of the nation when she fused her family heritage with her adopted country by making the wedding cake she never had. I may have cried at her victory speech. Just a little.

Yet all great empires may fall so they say (much like a flawed lemon souffle) and so rather a different kind of dough has proved to close the curtains on the heartwarming tale of bread, cake and soggy bottoms. Love Productions wanted more money for its BBC baby, or it threatened to sue for sole custody. Of course, the BBC could not match the bottomless pockets of a commercial giant like Channel 4, and so parent and favourite child were separated, just after the Beeb had painted a pretty picture of the bake off stars on its canteen wall.

What is truly startling is that none of the stars of the show were consulted by the production company before they jumped ship. More than any other show the Bake Up is a sum of its key ingredients – without them the recipe will surely fail to rise to its former heights.

Yet the memo got lost in the post, and none of the stars were consulted before the producers followed the money. Within 24 hours of the announcement Mel and Sue had quit in style, declaring ‘we’re not going with the dough’. The public cheered – the Bake Off has never been about glitz, glamour and cash, so their refusal to move from their public funded home proved a hit with audiences.

Then this week the heart of the Bake Off, St Mary Berry, pinned her colours to the mast by also staying with her BBC home, declaring her loyalty. This was no big surprise – Berry is  the embodiment of the BBC – its patronus against all things commercial.

I too firmly believe that the Bake Off belongs on its mother-ship. Why? Because no one wants an ad break before the star baker is announced. Because product placement would cheapen the tent’s value. Because Channel 4 is American sit-coms, gritty dramas and the founder of Big Brother, not the wholesome home the Bake Off tent needs to thrive.

However I do not understand why Paul Hollywood is being crucified for ‘following the money’. While it would be nice for the entire team to stand together, Hollywood has the most to loose if he leaves. Brand Berry has lasted for decades, and the BBC will crown her queen before losing her name from their list. Mel and Sue had a great career before the bake off began , and will continue to delight us with  their endearing craziness for years to come. Yet Hollywood was unknown before he became the Bake Off Bread Master. Suddenly he was beloved, a ‘silver fox’ and a wealthy celebrity with cookbooks and TV appearances galore.

Do I think the next  Bake Off will retain the secret ingredient which keeps viewers screaming for more? No. But I don’t blame Paul for hedging his bets to ensure his next paycheck.

While Paul tucks into his millionaire shortbread, lets hope Berry and the BBC will create their own celebration cake very soon – there is a gateaux shaped hole in my heart.


The day has finally dawned. Soggy bottoms beware, The Great British Bake off has returned! Fans of well-endowed squirrels and complicated puddings rejoice!

Many questions were raised by the first episode of season seven:
Is Val merely eccentric, or actually a little unhinged?

Is Selasi arrogant or simply one chilled dude?

How is Candice’s lipstick game so on point?

How come the Bake Off editors are suddenly obsessed with a pheasant?

And most importantly – where can I find jaffa cakes at this time of night?
As well as delicious calorie-filled concoctions and Mary’s effortless Paul put-downs (‘we don’t do that in the south you know’), Bake Off is also famous for it’s dirty sense of humour. Buns make way for puns, and this week was no different.

My top five this week were:

1.”Only 2 hours to achieve ultimate moistness”

2. “I’m gonna insert some custard – I’m gonna poke it in!”

3. “the drizzle absorbs, rather than runs straight down my little grooves”

4. “If you take them out too late they go really rubbery”

5. “Come into the Mel / Sue sandwich”

And finally, saving the best until last, the preview for episode 2 contained the following gem:

“Do you need a pair of warm hands? Either on your bag, or on you?”

Over-baked, or enjoyably saucy, I’m just glad Queen Berry is bake on our screens again. Now, as the lady once said, let me eat cake.


*yes I know the actual quote it let THEM eat cake, but THEY already had some, and why should THEY have all the fun?!*


Many drink-along games have been suggested to compliment that most quintessentially British of shows- The Great British Bake Off. Yet, as a nation which is prepared to argue over the pronunciation of the word scone until the end of time, it seems more appropriate to design a game which requires the consumption of unhealthy amounts of cake instead. Without further ado I present- eat along a bake off:

A soggy bottom arises- devour a bun, preferably iced, you naughty thing.

When Mary gives Paul a (thoroughly earned) dressing down- a dollop of icy Baked Alaska

When oven gazing commences- bakewell tart (WISHFUL EATING?)

When an inappropriate pun is dropped- gotta be a helping of spotted dick

When a well endowed squirrel makes a cameo- anything nutty, obviously

When somebody decides to ‘wing’ a showstopper- gooseberry fool. FOOL I TELL YOU.

When Mel/Sue ruins a contestant’s bake- any upside-down cake you have to hand.

When anyone cries after a baking catastrophe- blueberry muffin. Because they’re blue. Geddit? Yum.

When the bake is burned- Brownie. One that isn’t burned, unless your a masochist.

When Mary Berry tries to illegally help a contestant- celebrate with a slice of angel cake

When Paul is unnecessarily mean to a contestent- devil’s food cake.

When the show is over and you are left distraught and salivating- a cream tea. Because once it’s scone its scone.