With the perilous situations in Gaza and Ukraine threatening global apocalypse, and the Ebola virus doing its best to make us all bleed to death from our eyeballs, has there ever been a better time for The Great British Bake Off (BBC1, 6 August, 8pm) to return?
Good old GBBO’s country garden aesthetic offers a welcome change to the disturbing imagery going on elsewhere in the world, plus it allows everyone to take a break from trying to get their head around geopolitics for a minute and think long and hard about sponge.
This first episode also served up the new bakers. As ever, they are a jolly set, with a talent for baking mixed up with a combination of nerves and excitement that throws out their timings and makes their hands tremble whenever they approach a cake bearing a pipette. So far, so good.
The first two challenges were tricky but the final challenge, to make 36 identical miniature cakes, exposed the range of talent among this year’s crop. Descriptions of their efforts ranged from “clumsy” to “scrumptious” and the clumsy ones began to look vulnerable as the judging approached. Ominously, outside the protective cloak of the marquee, it started to rain.
Claire was the first to go, her cheeriness failing to stop her chocolate cake from exploding. There were warm hugs and words of encouragement all round. And then the reality show that helps suspend miserable grey reality for a pastel-hued alternative was over for another week. No wonder it’s a phenomenon.