The GBBO: Keeping the Show Alive on Channel 4
It’s over, the end, finito. The Great British Bake Off winner has been crowned – and, if reports are to believed, the controversial move to Channel 4 might mean that the show is done for good... (cue appropriate dramatic, 5-minutes-to-go style music).
Well, fortunately for Channel 4 (and for those of us who have been sitting, glued to our screens, for an hour each Wednesday evening for the past 3 months), we have some ideas. Ideas that will keep the show Great, rather than allowing it to diminish into a shadow of its former glory. In short, we’re here to make sure the GBBO never, ever becomes, merely, The British Bake Off.
What we have is a solution, genius in its simplicity, that will save the show in a flourish of icing sugar and marzipan… and maybe, just maybe, make Mary Berry wish she had joined Paul in abandoning the Beeb.
It is, in essence (vanilla essence, glad you asked), this: to combine the two great loves of Britain – bingo and baking.
I know, I know. If only we could introduce an element of queuing as well, I’m almost positive the Queen herself would get on board. But that is a venture for another time. For now, let’s see what we can do by throwing some bingo balls into the mix, blind baking the concoction, and sprinkling a little sugar over the result to cover the flaws.
These play a big part in the show as it currently stands: acting as the soundtrack to every episode; keeping the contestants near-enough on point; and even featuring in this series’ Mel and Sue version of the classic game, ‘smell this’.
Indeed, in the final, Jane had so many alarms set that she lost track of what each one was for! Well, let’s add a little bingo-sprinkle: some larger-than-life cards and a caller – who need only be of average size – and see what happens!
Players will have to put their bakes in the oven (as per usual). But (and it’s a big but… of the soggy bottom variety) will be allowed to take their creations out of the oven only when their bingo card has been completed.
Peak too early, and Paul the Traitor (as he shall henceforth be known) really will be commenting on the moistness of your (bake’s) behind; finish too late, and all that’ll be left in the inevitable sounds of dreams (and pastry) cracking, as the oven door is hastily opened.
Yes, we know. Taking the meticulous planning of baking and folding in the unpredictabilities of bingo is pure, plain evil. Well, what did you think? That we were just going to stick bingo in a tent and be done with it? Oh no. It’s so much more than that.
The chat game of all chat games, where contestants must produce puns as they bake.
In previous series, Mel and Sue have proved themselves the queens of innuendo, but now they’re gone (damn loyalty) it’s up to the bingo bakers to provide their own entertainment. Extra points for those who combine both bingo and baking in their double entendres.
3. The Technical Challenge.
Dreaded by contestants and viewers alike – the stress... it’s heartburn inducing! – the technical has the ability to melt down everything you ever thought you knew.
And in the GBBBO (Great British Bingo and Bake Off), things are no different. Well, what we mean to say, is that they’re only marginally different.
And it’s one for the slot-lovers out there. Players must spin the wheel to establish out their own, personal challenge: get 3 in a row, and you only have to make that 1, single item. All different symbols? That means you’ll be busy till the final minute, making sure your jaffas aren’t seeping, your pancakes are lacey, and your Savarin is soaked through.
Multipliers double your time (result!), but wild symbols are a risk you might not be willing to take…
4. The Blind Bingo Challenge.
Exactly like blind baking.... but with bingo! As they wait for their cupcakes to rise, contestants are each presented with a bingo card. They are allowed 5 minutes to study them, after which their eyes must be covered, and a pen placed into their hands. As the caller shouts the value of each ball, players make a cross where they think that number can be found. Finish your card, and you’re a winner; fail in your aim and you’ll wish that the blindfolded challenge was anything but this… a bingo piñata, perhaps.
This is, of course, a double-edged breadknife; players must both remember both their numbers and the exact position of each, to be in with a chance of completion.
5. Sweet or sour?
Tasting is a big part of baking (in our attempts, it certainly accounts for most of it), and here we have a bingo with a difference.
Picture a bingo-card-cum-advent-calendar. Instead of crossing off the numbers as they’re called, you must open the door and taste what is behind. But will it be a nice surprise, or will it attack you in a way you never quite thought was possible?
6. The Showstopper.
No episode of the GBBO is complete without an over-the-top, likely-to-collapse-at-the-last-minute, fabulous (or very nearly) display of skills, colour and perfection.
And with a showstopper, one key principle is that there’s lots to get done in a short space of time. In our GBBBO version, bake and play, with a unique intertwining of your bingo card and final creation. Because each number on the bingo card has to be accurately represented in the final bake.
Whether that’s 88 grams of sugar for 2 fat ladies, or two ducks’ worth of saltines, each element MUST be present. And if that’s not a challenge, we’re not sure what is!
Channel 4, you’re welcome.
And everyone else, just remember… if you play smart, keep calm and pout pretty – and you, too, could be a GB(B)BO winner.
Bake Off... Brexit... we're always looking at the current issues from a bingo perspective. Check out more here.