I love British dramas and have spent large swathes of my life watching high English accents in period costumes à la Jane Austin, Agatha Christy, and Oscar Wilde. Well, my discovery of this show was no different. As a fan of Downton Abby (okay, who wasn’t?) I always recorded the show airing directly before the new Downton episode. It was usually “Inside the Secret Castle of X” or some other documentary about aristocratic life, but on one particular day, years back, it was Season 1, Episode 3 of The Great British Baking Show. It sat on my DVR for a week before I bothered to watch it, mildly annoyed it was not “The Queens Hidden Chambers,” and when I finally did play it during a post-workout stretching session in my San Francisco apartment, I immediately thought: “Oh wow, this show is really BORING!”
But, I didn’t turn it off. About 20 minutes into the episode, I was still watching while holding the same stretch. I soon recorded and watched the next episode, and the one after that, and the next one, and the next, until I’ve watched religiously for the past two seasons. I have championed this show to my friends and family and now they all have the bug. Turns out a lot of other people must too, because it’s become a seriously popular show around the world!
Here are the 6 top reason you should watch:
#1 – It’s slow. I’m not talking about slow-moving, boring drab. I mean it is filmed at a slow pace. It’s leisurely. There aren’t the usual quick cuts to create drama and there’s no cliff hangers before commercials – in fact, there are none (this is PBS, remember?). You actually get to watch the contestants work, get to know them, and sympathize with them as they kneel in front of the proving draw, hoping their dough rises in time. The filming of the show lets you…well, watch!
#2 – The people are so English. Prepare to hear tons of the greatest English phrases like: “jammy dodger” (an English jelly cookie) and “soggy bottom.” My personal favorite, “sponge” (cake) is pronounced by some of the contestants as “spuunge”.
#3 – The contestants are nice! Unlike American reality tv shows where contestants would rather stab someone than be voted off, the bakers on The Great British Baking show are kind. They have compassion for their competitors, and often times they do their best to help each other along the way. They often cry when one is nixed – there’s so much humanity!
#4 – The sheer, and sometimes terrifying, creativity that goes into some of the show-stopper bakes. I have never heard of a trout picnic loaf, but it is certainly compelling to watch Paul Hollywood keep composure while eating it. Many of the baked goods have dates and olives stuffed inside. It is simply a parade of all things wonderful and perplexing about English food!
#5 – Wondering who Paul Hollywood is? He’s one of the judges. A top baker in Britain, his piercing blue eyes and curt honesty will enchant you. And then there’s the other judge, Mary Berry (yes these are their real names). She is the author of 75 cookbooks and is a certifiable baking pro. Her love of booze and Paul’s charm will win you over faster than you can say “technical bake.”
#6 – Best of all, you will fall in love. This season I will miss my girl crush Ruby, but now I’m looking for my new British Baking Crush.
If you can only do one thing for the Brits during the Brexit, watch The Great British Baking Show and embrace all the quirky goodness that we expect from our friends across the pond.
Season 3 of the Great British Baking Show airs locally on PBS. For scheduling info and videos, check out PBS.com.
Images courtesy of PBS.com