Great British Bake Off returns for its new, 13th series tonight, 13 September, undimmed by changes to television programming occasioned by the death of Queen Elizabeth II on Friday 9 September.
Channel 4 confirmed the series would air as planned, saying that “Channel 4 has made significant changes to our schedule, including added extended news coverage, to ensure that Channel 4 is respectful following the news from Buckingham Palace about the death of Her Majesty The Queen.”
“Channel 4 exists to offer viewers an alternative and that is particularly important at times like this.”
Fans of GBBO will be relieved that Paul Hollywood’s palms of judgment and Prue Leith’s necklaces will be bestowed upon them as planned. But the country at large should be more relieved that Queen Elizabeth II died after the cameras left the tent, saving viewers from unhinged scenes and the general media-consuming public from even more unhinged discourse.
For lest anyone forget, a tent adorned with Union Jack bunting, in which bakers make Victoria sponges, Bakewell tarts, and other treasured sweet goods of the isle, under the title of Great British Bake Off, is an enterprise more royalist than wearing pilfered jewels on one’s head or successfully dodging charges for international crimes. The show’s enduring appeal to warmth, coziness, sugar, spice, and all things nice is superseded only by its enduring commitment to the illusion that Britain floats on a featherlight, pillowy concoction of apolitical but jingoistic sweetness. The fundamental irony, that “British baking” is not very British at all, is the omerta of the ages.
Then, this is a country which, for the Queen’s recent Platinum Jubilee, decided the best thing to do was ask the public to create a pudding. Put those things into an oven of psychodramatic grief in which it’s the most natural thing in the world to label a member of a Royal family as not just approximating, but being, one’s own grandmother, and the least natural thing in the world to even whisper the word “colonialism,” and the conclusion is inescapable. Had the Queen died while Great British Bake Off was still filming, things would have gotten very dark indeed.
There would have been corgi replica cake busts. Paul Hollywood would have decreed a Queen Elizabeth sponge to succeed the Victoria. Noel Fielding would have worn a sweatshirt with an AI-generated image of the monarch’s face. Matt Lucas would have continued to be on screen. But the world is to be spared this horror — at least until season 14. God save the Queen indeed.