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Thursday, October 09, 2014

Great British Bake Off

It's surprising how addictive the television show "The Great British Bake Off" can be. I suppose you could ask, doesn't it fall into the category of 'reality' television, competition, gameshow or reality, because it has real people put into a situation that they wouldn't otherwise be put in, or perhaps it's got a combination of all these.  I'm not a great reality television fan. In fact, I detest it. I cannot see what the attraction of 'Big Brother' can possibly be. Merely watching a group of non entities living in a house and having their every move poured over by the media, Facebook, Twitter, the Red Tops and so on, just doesn't make very interesting television I'd rather watch the testcard (if they use one still, which I very much doubt). For a start, I hate the term 'reality television' because everything you see on television is fake. The very picture you watch is an illusion. Made up of 625 lines and flickering at a rate of something like 250 frames a second. The image you watch has been edited carefully. Put a camera in front of anyone who isn't trained as an actor or other performer and they will react differently. Some people clam up, whilst others 'play' to the camera. Then the images you see are carefully edited as I say. This particularly for something like 'Bake-Off' because the time scale of each episode has been condensed. The contestants have, say, two hours to bake a cake or whatever and it is filmed and edited to take perhaps 15 minutes on screen. The director and editor will edit out the extraneous matter, the un-interesting bits and keep only the most interesting bits. How do we know what bits have been re-shot, with the camera in just the right place to get the most interesting view of something? We can never be sure. Do Sue and Mel spend a long time composing what we imagine are off-the-cuff remarks? Does the director make sure that they are put in just the right place so that they can come out with these remarks? And the double entendres, those little gems such as 'soggy bottom' etc etc, put in to get a cheap laugh?

After all that, I think I like it because the contestants are interesting. They're not celebrities. They have interesting lives. We can, as the viewer, identify with them all, or most of them. There's the builder the grandmother, the former practice manager of a doctor's surgery. Nobody is generally nasty to one another. There is no viewers' vote. It doesn't get spun out for ages and ages before we learn who has been voted off at the end of each week's programme. No baying audience as there is on 'Strictly Come Dancing' who clap and cheer at every little thing the dancers do. And the setting is somewhat different to most other similar shows. A tent in a country house garden where the weather seems to interfere on a regular basis. How the production company manages to keep the rain out whenever there's a downpour is a mystery to me. Have you ever been in a similar tent when there's a rain storm? You can't seem to avoid the drips. Not every tent in one hundred percent waterproof. And the biggest mystery to me is, how do they manage to keep secret each week's vote-off and most importantly, the over-all winner when it is filmed so many months in advance?


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