Britain's Best Home Cook

You wouldn’t blame the BBC if they greenlit Britain’s Best Home Cook with high hopes of it filling a Baked Off-shaped hole in people’s lives. Even having B,B and C in its initials feels like a cheeky raspberry to Channel 4.

But since the revamped Bake Off proved an unexpected hit, is it the Beeb’s own queen of puddings, Mary Berry, who suddenly has something to prove?

BBHC’s biggest deviation from the GBBO format is that they’re not just making cakes: in any one round, the judges might find themselves comparing, say, spicy Szechuan noodles with a Swiss roll. The other twist is that the contestants all have to live together, Big Brother-style. At least they won’t starve.

The hopefuls include Trevor, a farmer who favours a surprisingly bold shoe, Pippa, a scientist with a passion for pressure cookers and flash pickling, and an A&E nurse called Q (I bet she’s got the best kitchen gadgets).

Claudia Winkleman is a canny choice of host: warm and empathetic, she’s always on hand to offer moral support or help open a jar. Though her strident cry of ‘You’ve got an hour left!’ – delivered in the style of Peggy Mitchell throwing someone out of her pub – met with a gentle rebuke from Queen Mary (‘That was a bit much’).

Shouty fruit and veg man Chris Bavin and dishy chef Dan Doherty complete the judge’s panel, but we all know it’s the benediction of Saint Mary the contestants seek. ‘The Queen is here,’ announced Claudia as her Royal Berryness made her entrance. ‘Don’t try to touch her.’

For a bit of added jeopardy, the show features an elimination round, which this week saw four contestants facing trial by asparagus. But it was never really in doubt that mum-of-six Fiona would be first on the bus home, having let her nerves get the better of her.

Whether Britain’s Best Home Cook will supplant the Bake Off in viewers’ affections remains to be seen. Personally, I’d like to think there’s room for both of them. And if anything does have to go, can it please be MasterChef?

TV extra:


Harry Hill’s Alien Fun Capsule

Harry Hill is right at home as the crepe-soled lord of misrule presiding over this three-ring circus of nonsense, thinly disguised as a quiz show that never actually gets started. This week’s highlights included Una Stubbs being carried in by Worzel Gummidge to perform a duet with Rizzle Kicks, Harry’s description of Janet Street-Porter as ‘almost a national treasure, but not quite’, and a group performance of Cliff’s Wired for Sound. I laughed. 


Back to School with Mum & Dad

Filmed over a term, this documentary showed the dedicated staff at London’s Family School refusing to give up on excluded children, even if it meant unpicking often complex and painful personal relationships. Maia, 8, was expelled for aggressive behaviour, but at home we saw a different side to her. ‘This is my favourite doggy,’ she said, cuddling a soft toy, ‘because I got her on the last day I saw my dad.’ So much heartbreak in one sentence.

Published in Waitrose Weekend, May 10, 2018

(c) Waitrose Weekend