Mary Berry Cooks

The Great British Bake Off (BBC1, 24 August, 8pm) used to be a TV show. Lazing away on BBC2, its twee format pulled in a few thousand baking aficionados per episode, nudged its judges into a quiet fame and gave one Berkshire farmer a few quid in rent each summer.

Fast forward six years and it’s practically a religion. Millions of devout fans tune in each week. National newspapers track every success, slip and showstopper. Contestants are propelled into celebrity from the first technical. Mary Berry has taken on an almost biblical quality.

And for the lucky dozen selected to enter ‘The Tent’ the pressure is clearly taking its toll. “Last night I was having some pretty crazy dreams about cakes chasing me,” a straight-faced Benjamina told us, sweat dripping down her brow only minutes in. “I was about to give birth the last time I felt this nervous,” agreed Kate, wringing her hands. “I want to ask Mary to be my nan,” came an utter behind her.

Then former headteacher Val assured us, without the hint of a smile, that she could be sure her drizzle cake was baked, after all it was “singing” to her. In any other setting she’d be carted off by the men in white coats but in Bake Off it’s par for the course.

The same goes for chucking an overdone sponge out the window, five adults simultaneously weeping into their mirror glaze, and matching your dress and jewellery to your cake (yes Kate, I’m looking at you).

Not that I won’t be tuning in next week, of course. Now that would be blasphemy.