TV preview: The Great British Bake Off: The Final

Who will lift the coveted Bake-Off trophy this year?
Who will lift the coveted Bake-Off trophy this year?
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We’ve learned a lot of things from this series of The Great British Bake Off - in pastry week alone, we found out why Cornish pasties are surprisingly big in Mexico and what a kouign amann is.

But more than anything else, we’ve discovered that viewers really, really care about the results of the show. If the memories aren’t still too painful, just cast your minds back to the week when Iain Watter was given the push after failing to serve up a baked Alaska for judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry because he’d thrown the melting dessert in the bin.

Some viewers suspected that the reason his ice cream had failed to set was because fellow contestant Diana Beard had removed it from the freezer, leading to frayed tempers on social media and more than 800 complaints to the BBC.

Luckily, the row soon blew over - presenter Sue Perkins came to Diana’s defence on Twitter, pointing out that the Alaska had only been out for 40 seconds - but it does mean that as we reach the final, it won’t just be the contestants who are feeling the pressure in the Bake Off tent. The viewers will be on tenterhooks too.

So, why do people care so much about the programme? Mary Berry shared her theory with The Guardian, saying: “I think it works as a show because it is totally honest and I always think we encourage people to bake.

“We stop and explain things. I think we’re teaching in a very subtle way. We stop our bakers and ask them what they’ve done.

“I think it works because people look at the bakers and think, ‘They’re just like my next-door neighbour, or my mum could enter that...’”

It’s been difficult to predict who will lift the coveted trophy. Heading into the semi-finals, builder Richard, normally seen with a pencil tucked behind one ear, had seemed like the one to beat after being named Star Baker four times.

However, even he hasn’t been immune to disasters - after a disappointing showing in European Cake week, he was in danger of being sent home, and was only saved by the fact that Mary and Paul couldn’t decide between him and fellow contestant Kate.

And as anyone who saw last year’s final - when Frances Quinn, who had spent much of the series being criticised for putting ‘style over substance’, beat the hotly tipped Kimberly Wilson and Ruby Tandoh - will tell you, there really is still everything bake for.

As you’d expect though, it’s not going to be easy. Mary and Paul have saved some of their trickiest challenges until last, including a difficult pastry technique for the signature challenge, and a technical that will see the finalists operating without a recipe.

Ultimately though it could all come down to who turns sponge, caramel, choux pastry and petits fours into a real showstopper. Just no one mention baked Alaskas...

The Great British Bake Off: The Final, Wednesday 8pm

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