We expect certain things in this world to be constants. Certain inalienable fundamentals that act as points of metronomic surety and comfort; the sun will always rise in the morning; the world will keep spinning; the tides will keep ebbing and flowing, and, without fail one person a week who makes an embarrassment of themselves with a piss poor tira misu, or such, will be sent home in disgrace from The Great British Bake Off. It is easy to take such constants for granted – that is, until they are no longer constants. For last night, the tides stopped flowing, the sun ground to a halt on the horizon for the world had stopped turning – no one was sent home from Bake Off.
No one was sent home from Bake Off. I will allow you some time to absorb and process this information in your own way.
The reason for this shirking of the time-honoured tradition of the unceremonious shaming of an under-performing baker was due to one of the contestants, Terry, being too ill to attend that episode’s recording. As such the judges decreed that it would be unfair to send someone home without the full gamut of contestants available for appraisal.
They had addressed Terry’s absence at the outset of the episode but had implied that things would run as normal in spite of this. However, it was difficult for there to not be a glaring, Terry-shaped hole in the show given that each of the three preceding episodes contained a different VT of Terry’s home-life with his animals – featuring an array of sheep, horses, dogs, bees etc. so impressive that Terry’s house must reasonably be declared to be one of the greatest remaining areas of biodiversity on the planet. As such, I think it’s safe to say that, above and beyond whatever baking may have happened, the greatest point of anticipation for last night’s episode was what this week’s snippet of Terry’s home-life would reveal. Personally, I was expecting a thrilling series of clips focused on exhibiting Terry’s love of home-improvement which – while showing off his newly-refurbished en-suite – revealed a tasteful, claw-footed bath that was absolutely full of unlicensed otters. Unfortunately, given his absence, this can simply remain as idle speculation.
Throughout the episode it became apparent that Briony, dear sweet Briony, was struggling and was most likely to be the one heading home. Her fate seemed cemented when for her showstopper – which was supposed to be a dessert encased in a chocolate orb which would melt away when a hot sauce was poured over it – she presented something that looked like a sickly, semi-deflated bouncy castle or a large, ornate jellyfish that had been washed up on a beech. Yet when the moment came, when they were all lined up on their stools, aprons sullied with the grime and effort of a day’s baking, with the camera zooming in on Briony’s face, an image of resignation and grim stoicism as she anticipated the hammer-blow coming her way, Noel Fielding declared that no one would in fact be leaving.
While they reasoned that it would be unfair to send one of the bakers home without everyone present, declaring that they would instead be sending two people home the next week, it all seemed a bit unfair. Rather than excusing Terry his absence, there should have been some contingency plan in place whereby a surrogate was nominated to bake in his stead so as to approximate roughly what Terry would’ve done were he there. Once they’d sourced a 7 year-old child who possessed the right balance of incompetence and vain artistic aspiration, their efforts – an entire pack of custard creams mashed into an approximation of the Taj Mahal with the aid of PVA glue – should’ve been adjudged in lieu of Terry’s baking.
But alas it was not to be, for, as last night’s episode taught us; we should never expect constancy or justice in such an unpredictable world. Everything we thought we knew is wrong; left is right, up is down and, it is possible to make a hames of a roulade and escape the punitive wrath of Paul Hollywood.