PIC OF THE WEEK
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.