CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night’s TV: Bake Off talent has risen but we want a soggy bottom


The Great British Bake Off

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What We Do In The Shadows

Rating:

Maybe it’s because we were all stuck indoors for months practising, but everybody this year seems to be so good — at everything.

The celebs on Strictly have been outstanding from the start: Chef John Whaite and TV presenter AJ Odudu could both be professionals. Even the contestants on Blankety Blank appear to be smarter than in the past.

Standards on The Great British Bake Off (C4) have been sky-high throughout. As we reached the quarter finals, that was beginning to make things awkward.

None of the remaining five deserved to be eliminated — in other years, any one of them could have been a runaway winner.

Standards on The Great British Bake Off (C4) have been sky-high throughout. As we reached the quarter finals, that was beginning to make things awkward

Standards on The Great British Bake Off (C4) have been sky-high throughout. As we reached the quarter finals, that was beginning to make things awkward

The only slight wobbles came from the two bakers who look like certs for the final in a fortnight, European rivals German Jurgen and Italian Giuseppe.

Giuseppe earned a scolding from an ‘underwhelmed’ Paul Hollywood when his gluten-free showstopper was a bit claggy. ‘I expected better from you,’ growled the judge.

And Jurgen fumbled in the technical round. Taking his vegan sausage rolls out of the oven, he spilt them on the floor. ‘This is bad . . . you didn’t see it,’ he murmured.

Even after a nosedive onto the lino, Jurgen’s puff pastry didn’t land in last place. That humiliation was reserved for Crystelle, whose crime was to grate a grain too much chilli into her chutney.

When all the bakers are so skilful, some of the tension is lost.

The best Bake Off series are the ones where disaster can strike any of the erratic amateurs, leaving us guessing until the end.

Lizzie Acker (pictured) from this year's Great British Bake Off. Judge Prue Leith was complaining about the sloppy presentation of Liverpudlian Lizzie’s icing. ‘I want to strangle Lizzie,’ she tutted. ‘She’s almost determined not to be neat'

Lizzie Acker (pictured) from this year’s Great British Bake Off. Judge Prue Leith was complaining about the sloppy presentation of Liverpudlian Lizzie’s icing. ‘I want to strangle Lizzie,’ she tutted. ‘She’s almost determined not to be neat’

I’m sure that, in 2015, even the producers didn’t know if Nadiya Hussain would reach the finish line without succumbing to self-doubt.

The whole country was willing her to win but the result was always on a breadknife-edge.

This year, by contrast, Paul has all but admitted that Jurgen and Giuseppe are too good to be ousted for a single bad performance.

‘Ultimately, I think Giuseppe has done enough already,’ he said, shrugging off the aftertaste of his ‘gluey’ cherry-and-choc cake.

For me, vintage viewing demands the possibility of catastrophe. We don’t get that from Jurgen and co.

Presenter Noel Fielding has his own ideas about what he’d like to see. 

Judge Prue Leith was complaining about the sloppy presentation of Liverpudlian Lizzie’s icing. ‘I want to strangle Lizzie,’ she tutted.

Natasia Demetriou and Matt Berry in BBC 2's What We Do In The Shadows. Although the jokes veer from the arcane to the scatological, the pace of the show is so fast that it’s easy to pick out the ones that make you laugh and skate over the rest

Natasia Demetriou and Matt Berry in BBC 2’s What We Do In The Shadows. Although the jokes veer from the arcane to the scatological, the pace of the show is so fast that it’s easy to pick out the ones that make you laugh and skate over the rest

‘She’s almost determined not to be neat.’

‘It’d be good TV,’ said Noel.

Kohl-eyed Noel is ideally suited to the best sitcom currently on the box, the vampiric What We Do In The Shadows (BBC2).

Although the jokes veer from the arcane to the scatological, the pace of the show is so fast that it’s easy to pick out the ones that make you laugh and skate over the rest.

A visit to a museum of the undead, in the basement of an office block, allowed the camera to slide across the names of blandly anonymous corporations listed in the foyer beside the lifts.

On the first floor, you’ll find something called Mitsushi Design. The ground floor is home to Ameridelta Bank.

And in the basement, it’s the Vampiric Council. Which one of these is truly evil is, perhaps, open to question.

The vampires discovered a ‘cloak of duplication’ that transforms the wearer into the doppelganger of another vampire.

That’s a send-up of J.K. Rowling’s brand of magic, and it gave Nadja (Natasia Demetriou) the chance of a hilariously filthy gag — one that would make Harry Potter blush to the tips of his spectacles.

And no, I can’t repeat it here.

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