Herald on Sunday - - ENTERTAINMENT -

The Great New Zealand Bake Off TVNZ 1, 7:30pm Tues­day

A quick, ev­i­dence-based word of warn­ing be­fore you dive into the first episode of The Great Kiwi Bake Off: if you watch this show on an empty stom­ach with no sweet treats on hand to fill the void, you’re in for an hour of pure psy­cho­log­i­cal tor­ture.

Even suck­ing on a Werther’s Orig­i­nal should off take the edge. Be­cause feel­ing like you might cry while your whole body screams for tiramisu isn’t what Bake Off is all about, is it. This is sup­posed to be a happy, feel-good show, one where nice peo­ple bake beau­ti­ful things in a big fancy tent.

The New Zealand ver­sion doesn’t di­vert much from the in­tensely pop­u­lar Bri­tish ver­sion — in fact, this is prob­a­bly the clos­est a lo­cal re­al­ity fran­chise has ever come to suc­cess­fully repli­cat­ing the orig­i­nal. For fans of GBBO, this is very good news in­deed.

Hosts Madeleine Sami and Hay­ley Sproull work the tent like a cou­ple of ab­so­lute lar­rikins, although they mer­ci­fully spare us the re­lent­less dou­bleen­ten­dres of their Bri­tish coun­ter­parts. The judges – ”Queen of Ca­ter­ing” Sue Fleis­chl and “Baron of Bak­ing” Dean Brettschnei­der, who the hosts have catchily dubbed "Fleis­chlschnei­der" — are no Mary Berry, ob­vi­ously, but they do a fine job of­fer­ing firm but fair crit­i­cism.

And the con­tes­tants — these peo­ple can bake. It’s im­pos­si­ble to pick a favourite from the likes of 18-year-old bak­ing prodigy Annabel, hand­some rugby lad/se­cret bak­ing ge­nius Joel or lovely Son­ali, who makes a cake so cute it’ll just about make you weep. Ev­ery­body in the tent seems like a good sort, of­fer­ing sup­port and help­ing one an­other out where they can.

That’s the thing about Bake Off — there’s no real tac­tics here, no strat­egy, no bitchy com­ments or back­stab­bing. Just pure, full-hearted bak­ing. What a won­der­ful thing.

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