Our history is peppered with examples of this - look at Eddie the Eagle Edwards, or Richard Branson's attempts at hot air ballooning, or any sport since 1966. We love failure, and we're brilliant at it.
Let's be honest, the best bits of the Bake-Off aren't when someone successfully constructs a three-tiered model of Westminster Abbey out of shortbread and spun sugar. They're when someone has a tantrum over a curdled custard, or throws a cake in a bin.
These moments are important because they represent another great British tradition - deciding something's too difficult, and therefore not even bothering to attempt it. I love cooking, but I hate baking, with all the emphasis on exact measurements and correct oven temperatures. I don't have the time, will or energy to pipe meringue swans, or worry about the overpowering nature of rosemary. And don't get me started on macaroons. I will simply say this: FUCK MACAROONS.
Basically, the Bake-Off reinforces my prejudices: making cakes is a load of fucking effort, and will almost certainly end in disaster. Best just to forget about it while you tuck into another Mr Kipling fondant fancy.
But while I'm reassured by the disasters, it's not that I take pleasure in the contestants' misery. I did feel sad for Dorret as I watched the six-layer gateau she'd just spent a day building collapse into soup. And so did her rivals in the tent, visibly and genuinely. The contestants feel each other's pain and help each other out when things go wrong, which is another very British trait.
(As far as most of us are concerned, anyway; if David Cameron was running the Bake-Off tent, he'd announce an egg shortage, and take an egg off each baker with the least eggs to give to the person who already had the most. Then tell everyone to be grateful Jeremy Corbyn wasn't giving their eggs to terrorists.)
It was the final, however, that really summed it up for me. Nadiya was never a clear winner; she had ups and downs throughout the series, coming last in the Technical Challenge as close as the semi-final. "I've bollocksed it up," she sobbed to camera, "I've totally fucking fucked it." (I'm paraphrasing here, but we all know what she was thinking.)
But she kept calm and made a peacock out of Rice Krispies, won the whole bloody thing, and then declared there must have been some kind of mistake. Again, this is a classic British trick - being as surprised as anyone when it turns out we're not totally crap.
For example, why not make the Technical Challenge even tougher? Instead of having limited instructions to work with, the bakers have no recipe at all, and must try to psychically guess the cake Paul and Mary are thinking of. Replace the tedious historical bits with a visit to a McVitie's factory, where Mel learns how the exact same biscuits can be made in half the time for half the money and a millionth of the effort. And who wouldn't watch an episode with the theme "penis cakes"? Just imagine the showstoppers.
Sadly, I doubt the BBC will take these ideas on board; they'll fall on deaf ears, just like my suggestions for making Strictly more exciting by polishing the floor with olive oil and replacing the professional dancers with baboons. But I know I'll watch the next series of Bake-Off anyway, because after all, it is Great, and it is so very British.
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