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The Carpetbagging of GBBO Programme 6 in Cyberspace

I still haven’t seen this episode but of course from the weekend it was filmed, it was always going to be edited as a round of high drama for the series. ‘Midway’ through the filming schedule, after last week’s topsy turvy pie episode this could be interpreted as manna from heaven for the production team. Dropped puddings, flying pastry and bloody fingers with an unforeseen conclusion: episode 6 had it all for viewers in terms of drama.

The audience are invited to identify with us precisely because we represent the everyman and – woman who bakes. The ‘lottery finger’ could be pointing at you as a participant in the next series, so people are encouraged to personalise their viewing and decide whether or not they could do better or worse with each challenge. In that, it is inevitable there will be favourites in terms of approach, styles and flavour choices, but really that’s as far as it goes. The clips of our backgrounds are there to give some context for our choices and motivations.  Literally hours of filming are compressed for each episode, so it is inevitable that much will be left out, as the story must be told for that episode and also for the narrative arc that presumably exists for each of us. I don’t believe there is any deliberate attempt to present people in a negative light, but you are only seeing a small facet of the filming. I’m sure that I didn’t feature much at the beginning because I was solidly in the middle of the pack and my time in the spotlight would be coming. Others have had a different story chosen for them and have been featured accordingly. Similarly I cannot believe that Paul is as one dimensional as some believe him to be: he isn’t the lion king waiting to be fed the baby antelopes on the Savannah, even if he looks it here!

I do know that off camera Paul gave me a hug when the puddings challenge was finished and that Mary was also extremely kind. I was at rock bottom in terms of confidence in my baking at that point and it was much appreciated. It is just too simplistic to consider Paul in terms of pantomime villain to Mary’s White Queen. You as viewer are also being subtly but gently manipulated: invited to comment on decisions, to identify with the judging as well as the participants to improve the communal experience and interactivity of a pre-filmed programme.

We were promised a gentle show in which no one is edited inappropriately to come across as one dimensional and negative when we signed up, and in total fairness to the TV production company, they have kept to their word so far and should be congratulated for that. They have the sense to realise that using the material well is gripping enough and there is no need for Machiavellian tactics – they were rewarded with a BAFTA last year and hopefully this series of the show will continue to do well. Yes there are occasions of ‘judicious editing’ but we have all maintained we got on well together and were mutually supportive and this was generally the case. Boring I know, but true.

However I have been astonished at the venom directed at us as participants. The production company as part of their ‘duty of care’ to us arranged for us to have psychological assessment prior to filming, but it is actually very difficult to contemplate the completely unknown. Some of my fellow bakers have been personally upset by the degree of negative, unfounded comments they have received that have crossed over well into the realm of personal and vindictive. Family members and friends who are rightly proud of us have been coming across comments that are negative and reactionary in the extreme. Comments that would be unacceptable in person are made under a cloak of relative anonymity online. Yes free speech is to be defended, but these comments are in the public domain and directed at people who are doing something for the love of it, and with no obvious financial or personal gain most of the time. It’s fine to ‘hate’ an inanimate object (I hate grapefruit, the smell makes me want to be sick) but to ‘hate’ a person on a TV baking show based on a highly edited few minutes of TV? Can you draw inferences as to an individual’s true personality or motivations based on that little? Really????

Bullying is still bullying. Even in cyberspace.

 

 

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16 responses to “The Carpetbagging of GBBO Programme 6 in Cyberspace

  1. I completely support what you said here Danny. I think the viewers can judge what the bakers on the series have made based on their appearance and that is probably it. We can’t even judge the taste or texture of the baked goods, let alone the personality and quality of the contestants.

  2. Great blog from start to finish, Danny. I adore this show for its format, production quality and mouth-watering goodies, and admire every one of the contestants and the other “personnel”. I do hope that self-serving, spiteful comments won’t cause lasting hurt to anyone.

  3. It is utterly unnecessary and vile to be nasty to someone just because they are appearing in a tv programme. I’m sure there are more people who are all on your side than are being cyber trolls. I do go on a thread on the Digital Spy forum, and quite a few people seem to think that Paul has it in for you, but I do hope not and that he was nice to everyone. I must admit he doesn’t strike me as being a nasty person. My whole family eagerly await each episode, but I’ll be sad when it’s all over – it’s the only ‘reality’ tv we watch.

  4. Well said Danny! Bullying it is. It must be very difficult to brush it off as just the vicious rantings of a few malicious individuals. But remember this. For every troll out there, there are thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions of people who value and appreciate what you are all doing. We may have our favourites, we may not like all your bakes, but we respect you as people and admire you for doing this. It must have been great fun to be part of gbbo, and I hope the pleasure of seeing youselves on tv and knowing that millions of others are enjoying it too will not be blighted by the nastiness of a few.

    • Btw I thought you deserved star baker in episide 6!

      • Euan I’ve just watched it and don’t think I did. I admire Brendan enormously as a man and a baker and he deserved it: I have nothing but praise for the man. The clip at the end of me was not from when the star baker was announced as we all clapped and looked across to the star baker every time which I wasn’t doing then. I think it was meant to show my relief at not going home for dropping the puddings. I never knew I was in contention for star baker when that episode was being filmed, it was only afterwards I learnt how well I’d done overall. Of course the home viewer doesn’t get to know that either!

  5. I couldn’t agree with this post more – I am astounded (and saddened) daily by the venom of so much anonymous internet posting. Not just for GBBO but in general.

    That aside – I’m really enjoying the bake off this year. I realise it’s all over and so this is a bit late – but I’ll wish you good luck anyway!!!

  6. Thanks for the additional info. You are so right about what people say online; unfortunately if you are recognisable from TV, or are close to someone who is, it can get to the point where it’s just not worth looking at what people say. For some people, spitting bile *is* their hobby, and the “s/he asked for it by going on TV in the first place” argument is just their way of avoiding looking at their own problems. They probably surround themselves with other people who hate easily so they can kid themselves it’s healthy. More power to anyone out there trying to remind them that it isn’t.

    I understand that some people don’t genuinely hate anyone on TV and that strong words are figures of speech, but I don’t know why they wouldn’t adjust their language to facilitate communication in a public space. I’m not sure anyone can complain about having other people believe what they say.

  7. It’s a sad fact that so many people are very unhappy in their professional and/or personal lives, and use anonymous comments internet to make themselves feel better.

    That said, I think any kind of talent show that includes elimination as part of its structure invites the audience to choose their favourites. That kind of hook is necessary for viewers who aren’t so interested in the cooking aspect of the show. My husband and I talked about the no elimination episode this week, and he is very suspicious of the production team and the choices they have allowed the judges to make. Right now, whoever your favourite is, they will still be around next week.

    In terms of the way the viewers/netizens treat the individuals in the show, personally I have used GBBO this season to have something to talk about with my new ‘big boss.’ We have talked about waiting for ‘medical student James’ to slip up, and how ‘retired recruitment consultant Brendan’ now has his game face on (as of episode 4/5). When TV shows reduce people’s lives to four word catch phrases, I think it is easy for viewers to forget that there are real people behind the editing, no matter the promises made.

    I have really enjoyed your recipes so far Danny, and I hope that you made it to the final.

  8. It’s a sad fact that so many people are very unhappy in their professional and/or personal lives, and use anonymous comments internet to make themselves feel better.

    That said, I think any kind of talent show that includes elimination as part of its structure invites the audience to choose their favourites. That kind of hook is necessary for viewers who aren’t so interested in the cooking aspect of the show. My husband and I talked about the no elimination episode this week, and he is very suspicious of the production team and the choices they have allowed the judges to make. Right now, whoever your favourite is, they will still be around next week. Tune in!

    In terms of the way the viewers/netizens treat the individuals in the show, personally I have used GBBO this season to have something to talk about with my new ‘big boss.’ We have talked about waiting for ‘medical student James’ to slip up, and how ‘retired recruitment consultant Brendan’ now has his game face on (as of episode 4/5). When TV shows reduce people’s lives to four word catch phrases, I think it is easy for viewers to forget that there are real people behind the editing, no matter the promises made to them by production teams.

    I have really enjoyed your recipes so far Danny, and I hope that you made it to the final.

  9. Hi Danny,
    I’m in awe of your writing style and you make excellent points in this piece. It’s great that you’re giving people a proper sense of the programme and the process of editing.
    I hope that lots of people read this and that those who are tempted to make personal insults in public think twice. Well done!
    love
    Brendan

  10. Great post and so true – it’s still bullying. If you wouldn’t say it to someone in reality, don’t say it online (and also just don’t say mean things anyway!)

    I was going to enter GBBO this year and didn’t because my husband warned me that I wouldn’t cope very well with the (inevitable) nasty things people would say online. I deeply regret that decision now and I have decided that’s a terrible way to live, not doing what you want for fear of bullies, so I’ll be entering this year!

    I love your blog, BTW – it’s nice to read really thoughtful intelligent reflections on both the show and baking.

  11. Absolutely- don’t be held back if you want to go for it. My very best wishes for your application next year- you won’t regret it if you get accepted.
    And thanks for your kind comments on the blog- I didn’t set out to be quite so open in the blog but actually circumstances mean it works better this way to tell the stories. I’m delighted that people are enjoying reading them.

  12. I’m appalled that people have made nasty comments online about the contestants on GBBO – and feel rather naive that it hadn’t occured to me they would. I am so enjoying the programme, and think you all come across as very likeable people! I’ve been sorry to see each person who’s been eliminated have to leave! I feel the programme is encouraging me to maybe try some different baking rather than just the cakes I’ve been doing for years.

    • That’s fantastic Sarah Jane. Baking is part of eating well and not just about making cakes- an important luxury all the same!
      I hope you enjoy breaking out of your baking boundaries. 🙂
      Danny

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