Like the perfect souffle, Bake Off just keeps rising

CLAUDIA CONNELL’S My TV Week: Like the perfect souffle, Bake Off just keeps rising


Tuesdays, CHANNEL 4 


Nothing makes me well up more than when one contestant downs their wooden spoon on The Great British Bake Off to help out a struggling rival. 

In Chocolate Week last week Dan did just that, rushing to lend a hand to a nervous and behind-schedule Saku with her Showstopper.

Not only has Bake Off become one of my favourite shows, it also regularly reduces me to tears. Not so much crying over spilt milk as sniffling over undercooked bread or collapsed tortes. 

Had somebody told me 13 years ago that I would fall completely in love with a TV series where people baked cakes, I’d have thought they were mad. 

Madder still if they suggested that many episodes would leave me feeling emotionally drained – like when sweet, adorable veg-grower Abbi was so devastated to be sent home in Bread Week.

Claudia Connell is convinced that The Great British Bake Off only ever gets better. L-R: Judge Paul Hollywood, co-presenter Alison Hammond, judge Prue Leith and co-presenter Noel Fielding

It was a scorching hot day when the bakers were set their chocolate challenges in the tent, a bit of a head-scratcher as everyone had been in duffle coats and scarves the week before. 

It was all too much for poor Tasha, two-time Star Baker. Unable to take the heat she fell ill and had to leave the kitchen. 

Claudia (pictured) admits she gets particularly emotional when one contestant downs their wooden spoon to help out a struggling rival

The Showstopper required an edible chocolate box, with a chocolate cake inside and an assortment of individual chocolates. Never mind five hours, most of us would have required five days. 

Due to a lack of time, Dana’s chocolate Cinderella coach ended up being pulled by legless horses while chemist Josh forgot the formula for tempering his chocolate, meaning his piping became a melted mess.

Previously, cooking reality shows had never held much appeal. It was Shirley Conran who famously said that life was too short to stuff a mushroom. As far as I was concerned it was also too short to watch a stranger chop an onion or boil rice. 

But all that changed when The Great British Bake Off got under my skin. From the minute it launched in 2010 there was something different, joyful and even magical about the show. 

Every proposed tweak to the format had me fretting that the magic would be destroyed.

Moving from its slot on BBC2 to primetime BBC1 after four years? No, it would lose its cosy appeal! Going over to Channel 4 in 2017 where there would be annoying adverts to contend with? Disaster! 

And as for Mary Berry and Mel and Sue announcing they were quitting, well, surely that was the final nail in the coffin? 

But on every occasion I was wrong. With every change GBBO has, like the perfect souffle, risen ever higher.

The greatest ingredient the show has ever added to the mix is Alison Hammond. Funny, warm and engaging, she has genuine chemistry with Noel Fielding and is the best presenter so far when it comes to rapport with the bakers. 

Drama, emotion, tension and suspense… Bake Off has it all. I just wish Paul Hollywood wasn’t so stingy with his handshakes.

A cheesy Doctor Foster 


Sundays, CHANNEL 5


‘Love can justify almost anything… it can make us do terrible things,’ said wronged wife Tasha in the opening episode of this new psychological thriller. 

Tasha (Céline Buckens) is the second wife of annoying hipster Jack (Tom Mison). They have a baby, Emily, and live in a modern, Grand Designs-style house that is so dark inside they must need head torches to find their way around. 

Though seemingly perfect on the outside, all is not well in their achingly cool world. Jack’s ex-wife Jen (Janet Montgomery) turns up at their house uninvited and has a habit of bumping into Tasha when out and about. 

Despite appearing happy with Tasha, Jack seems reluctant to tell his scheming ex to do one.

Suspicious that Jack’s not telling her the truth about a business trip, Tasha follows him, and lo and behold the rotter is shacked up with his ex. Is he really having an affair with the woman he divorced after he had an affair with Tasha? Keep up.

With beautiful (but horrible) people, fabulous homes and endless adultery, The Ex-Wife feels like it has been inspired by the BBC’s Doctor Foster, albeit with an extra sprinkling of cheesy clichés. 

It’s certainly entertaining escapism but I’m convinced I already have the ending worked out. I’ll be staying tuned just to prove myself right, though.

Brilliantly bone-chilling

Steve Coogab’s ‘bone-chillingly brilliant’ portrayal of Jimmy Savile in The Reckoning is impressive, according to Claudia

Now that all four episodes of BBC1’s The Reckoning (iPlayer) have screened, there won’t be many who didn’t feel like bathing in bleach after seeing how Jimmy Savile used his fame and connections to hide decades of horrifying abuse. 

Some will applaud the BBC for such a public washing of its dirty laundry, others may feel it was a mea culpa that didn’t go far enough. Using the closing credits to admit shelving a Newsnight investigation into his conduct was certainly a cop-out. 

But it’s undeniable that from the voice to the walk and mannerisms, Steve Coogan’s portrayal was bone-chillingly brilliant. 

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