Bake Off is back for five weeks, providing the perfect opportunity to sit back on the sofa and enjoy all the innuendos, panicking and Paul Hollywood handshakes during this cold miserable weather. And this has the added twist of being a celebrity version to raise awareness of charity Stand up to Cancer.
Thankfully, Prue Leith wasn’t let loose on social media to accidentally reveal the celebrities featuring in the opening episode: BBC broadcaster Bill Turnbull, Spandau Ballet band member Martin Kemp and comedians Roisin Conaty and Harry Hill.
The signature challenge saw the celebrities create cupcakes – not the most taxing of tasks.
Harry Hill used his comedic personality by baking ‘bald cupcakes’, replicating his shiny smooth head as a cupcake topping, with hand-written ‘prizes’ inside, such as “dinner for two with Carol Vorderman” and “a copy of Mary Berry’s birth certificate”.
Other cupcakes included yummy-looking red velvet cakes from Roisin, which were honoured with the infamous Paul Hollywood handshake, while Bill Turnbull used his love for football with Wycombe Wanderers-themed cupcakes.
But it wasn’t so ‘gold’ for Spandau Ballet bassist Martin Kemp, who made the colossal error of baking his buttercream topping instead of his cupcake sponge. Maybe you should stick to the music and acting, Martin.
Next came the technical challenge and the celebrities were tasked with making crêpes suzettes.
Harry Hill had a trick up his sleeve and it was evident that he had some baking experience, winning the challenge. With Hill being, well Hill, he bragged about his prowess and made the comment that he potentially could be “Prue Leith’s son”. I don’t know who should be more worried.
Roisin Conaty, who admitted she had never baked before, was about to go on a downward spiral and “welded” her cremated-looking crêpes onto the plate. On presenting them to the judges, she giggled and tried to hide her face with the inevitable grilling she was about to receive from Prue and Paul. Noel Fielding asked Paul Hollywood, whether he had “ever taken a handshake back before?” Awkward….
Moving on, the showstopper required the celebrities to make a 3D biscuit sculpture of one of their favourite memories.
Bill Turnbull reminisced about the day of his marriage, while Martin Kemp said the best gig of his life was playing Live Aid, and created biscuit figures of the band on stage. Roisin, meanwhile, seemed to be already thinking about her holidays, with a beach bar creation. So far, so normal.
But again came Harry Hill! In trying to interpret a ‘dream’ he claimed to have had, which involved being on holiday with the Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla Parker Bowles, and falling out with her over duty-free allowances, he ended up with what he explained was a “wise turtle and a horse on a surfboard”. I think that, by this stage, the baking was messing with Harry’s head.
Yet it was Harry who swept the board in the first episode as his replica of Camilla Parker-Bowles and standing rainbow biscuit deservedly saw him crowned star baker.
Martin Kemp had run Harry close, but his buttercream disaster let him down.
Bill was fairly consistent throughout, but Paul Hollywood described many of his bakes as “simple”.
Roisin had pretty much given up when the beach hut came crashing down, after not baking for long enough. Prue described her 3D biscuit sculpture as if a “hurricane had hit it” and Paul said it was the “worst gingerbread he had ever tasted”. Roisin took it on the chin and laughed off the criticism.
Overall, it was an enjoyable episode. Harry’s one-liners were hilarious; Martin Kemp’s buttercream error was a head-in-hands moment; and Roisin’s ability to laugh at her own faults added a gently amusing touch to the show.
On a starkly contrasting serious matter, the final clip epitomised the charity element of the show.
Bill Turnbull, who we saw laughing and chuckling during the episode, revealed he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer that had spread into his bones. Even though I was aware of his condition before the show aired, it was a heart-stopping moment that simply demanded your attention.
The touching moments where he revealed how he regretted not visiting his GP for four years and telling his family about his health sent out the message loud and clear: Stand up to Cancer is a brilliant charity, and Bill’s story should inspire those who don’t feel quite right to visit their GP.