So The Great British Bake Off (BBC2, Tuesday 8pm) is at its final hurdle: the final.
Amid all the flak the BBC’s had for sexism (and worse) in the workplace, will it worry the final trio are all men?
There’s the fey indie one, the fey Scottish one and the fey, bald, old one - Brendan, the brioche Blofeld, who’s been metaphorically stroking his white cat in triumph since about week four. In Bond terms, he’s Live and Let Die era, plotting to revive the corpse of the 1970s with his mandarin and kirsch-soaked voodoo. Though the clear favourite, he’s been mercilessly lampooned by conjoined pun-bot Mel-N-Sue.
It’s wrong to argue, as some critics have, that the show is not about the food. If some tune in to see brittle minds crumble under the pressure like filo, that’s nothing compared to the rich pleasure of a triumphant ‘showstopper’ - if only because it happens so rarely.
As ever, judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood preside regally, the latter especially soaring to new heights in this year’s run. He orbits above the show like a perma-tanned Zeppelin, radiating star-power at Gas Mark 11. He’s visibly put on a few pounds over the series but his gravitas expands exponentially. If Hollywood is to remain tethered, the Bake-Off must surely switch to BBC1.
Fears persist that Berry will one day disintegrate before our eyes like some relic carelessly exhumed by Channel 4’s Time Team that she’ll waft away on the breeze like so much icing sugar. But assuming she survives the winter, the countdown to next year’s best food show can begin.