Yessssss, I managed to find an obscure lyric from a song called Alaska. Get me.
OK. let’s not beat around the bush. Poor, lovely, beardy Iain was sabotaged by the most evil pensioner in Britain, Diana. Well, that’s what you would think by watching the furore unfold Wednesday evening and throughout Thursday.
After an exceedingly pleasant evening beginning with Expendables 3 (everyone needs more Dolph in their life, right?) and finishing with some yummy Chinese, we returned home and switched on Newsnight to find Kirsty donning a pinnie and introducing the ejected Iain Watters. WHAT? This would never have happened on Paxman’s watch.
Clips were shown of freezer doors opening and closing and ice-cream flowing and our hairy hipster a huffing and a puffing. Of course, Kirsty is no stranger to cookery competitions having reached the final of Celebrity Masterchef 2011 as well as participating in GBBO for Comic Relief. I’m not sure if this was breaking news or was already in the public domain but Kirsty dropped the bombshell that Diana had left the show shortly after filming Iain’s exit due to illness. “NO SPOILERS!” we shouted. Oh well.
Kirsty discussed the online campaign to have him reinstated and asked if he agreed. “You’ll have to watch next week.” :O
So, as I while away the hours until the next episode, I’ve had plenty of time to think about this in a measured way. I’m not really one for off the cuff Twitter rage but prefer to pause for thought.
While I probably wouldn’t have thrown my dessert in the bin, I too would have chosen not to serve it to Mary and Paul. Different shows give different advice. Masterchef regularly say, “If something’s not good enough to serve, don’t serve it.” That would be my reasoning behind discarding the Alaska. Of course, if Mary Berry’s instructions have always been, “Present something, anything, even if it looks or tastes like shit“, then do so (god, I would love her to utter those words). One can never predict one’s actions in the heat of the moment, or the 90 degree heat of a tent with a camera crew in your face, so I fully understand Iain walking out. I expect that was so he could kick a nearby squirrel and tell it to “FUCK RIGHT OFF AND LEAVE MY ICE-CREAM ALONE, WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT? I FUCKING HATE YOU, MY SESAME SEED FLAVOUR REALLY ACCENTUATED THE DARK CHOCOLATE AND CARAMEL BASE, SHITTING HELL!” … aaaaaand, relax.
This is also a gripe of mine with Masterchef. There are contradictions when raw chicken is served, for example, and, quite rightly are told, “If something’s not good enough to serve, don’t serve it.” But, there are other times when an element is missing from the plate and Torode asks where it is, what happened and that it may go against them.
Our Bake Off judges would have bin (geddit?!) aware of Iain’s woes but asking him to actually carry the Brabantia up to the counter was pretty beastly. I think it unlikely that he would have dobbed on Diana so he just bit his lip and took the large amount of flack that came his way. This showed Mary and Paul in a way previously unnoticed by me – I didn’t like it one bit. This was not sabotage or any kind of wickedness on Diana’s part so I guess they had to vent their disappointment towards the Belfast baker. Yeah, after giving them four and a half hours, he was about 20 minutes from completing the most interesting sounding Alaska of the lot, he restrained himself (apart from a quick “why would you do that?” to no one in particular), gathered his thoughts and returned to be humiliated.
A point made by Carsmile during the episode, and echoed by previous evictee Jordan, was the kind of equipment the bakers have to work with. Jordan explains, “They needed better freezers. They were very good for the TV because you can see people putting things in and it looks pretty. But you would never see them in a commercial kitchen – and they’re being asked to bake to commercial timescales.” Yes, where are the blast chillers? It’s all very Cath Kidston and W.I. with the retro fridges which, y’know, is gorg and all, however, the stakes are higher than just me knocking up some smegging muffins at home.
Jordan continues, “I know that for the four hours they were in there, they will have been bombarded with constant questions. They are right up in your face all the time and will be asking you endless questions. It’s not just Mel and Sue, like you see on the TV. Iain got criticised, but he would rather have put up nothing than something that’s not up to scratch.”
Kirsty Wark’s mention of Diana’s illness was just that, a brief mention accompanied by a confirmation that this was not connected to #bingate. The following morning the BBC repeated that statement but later Diana felt the need to explain the situation. There should have been no need: a private matter. Even if it was due to stress or guilt (which she surely wouldn’t have fully comprehended until the show aired), it’s none of our business. Iain and Diana had spoken since, no problems. Diana explained her illness. Oh my god! After fainting and hitting her head, she has lost her sense of taste and smell. To some that may sound like poetic justice. They need to get a grip.
Earlier this month I caught Glenn Cosby’s show at the Edinburgh Fringe. Yes, he seems to have signed a deal with John Lewis and is touring the country telling his life story, cooking some tray bake cakes and generally having a swell ol’ time. You don’t have to win GBBO or Masterchef to host your own television show or publish a cook book and maybe this is part of the problem. With cookery shows as popular as they are, the stakes are at their highest.
Much has been written about the editing of GBBO and people’s relief that Diana is not on Twitter to see the vitriol and numerous hashtags heading her way (I suspect she may be aware by now!). The younger competitors will realise the potential of the TV exposure and, while I’m sure this wouldn’t have occurred to Iain at the time, this incident will ultimately do him no harm. He didn’t slap an old lady, he behaved as well as he could and has hinted at his return. He has already tweeted a photo of his inclusion in the new GBBO cook book – his Moroccan plait which he said was his proudest moment when asked on BBC2’s An Extra Slice. He also recreated the baked alaska for the guests who seemed to really enjoy it. Let’s hope this bloody Alaska isn’t a short-tailed Albatross around Iain’s neck.