He has the uncanny capability to be each sympathetic and hilariously horrible (Image: Matt Crossick/PA)
Think about the weary sigh from the producers of The Great British Bake Off as they found that, for the second time in a yr, they’d be changing one of many present’s hosts.
In January, Sandi Toksvig d’éclair-ed (sorry) that she’d be stepping down from the show and producers confronted the uphill wrestle to seek out somebody who might complement Noel Fielding’s absurd, heat presence.
His companion wanted to straddle the road between mischievous teasing and empathy for the bakers beneath the onslaught of the tent’s strain.
Producers finally landed on Matt Lucas – who’d been steered by Noel himself – and after a roaring opener to the 2020 sequence that noticed Matt mock Boris Johnson’s chaotic conferences, he settled into the position effectively. The sturdy bond between each presenters was evident, with Noel and Matt clearly loving working collectively. It was an ideal match.
Alas, Noel welcomed his second child with partner Lliana Bird in October and promptly set off on paternity depart (well-deserved after a marathon block of filming for the 2020 series).
For the Christmas Particular, which had not but been filmed, this left producers again at sq. one.
Fortunately, Tom Allen – comic, author and host of each Bake Off: The Professionals and spin-off sequence The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice – was later announced to be stepping in to cover Noel’s role, becoming a member of Matt as a presenter.
It’s this willingness to be the butt of the joke which stands Tom in such good stead as a presenter on Bake Off (Image: Channel 4)
He introduced it together with his traditional flippancy: ‘Lastly, bald homosexual males are getting their probability on tv.’
If his interactions with the poor unassuming public on An Additional Slice are something to go by, Tom would be the good host for the present. He has the uncanny capability to be each sympathetic and hilariously horrible to the studio’s viewers as he evaluations the bakes they create from residence – all with a real and endearing sense of self-deprecation.
Armed with a kitchen whisk, he good-naturedly berates the studio viewers for his or her kitchen mishaps or delves deep into their relationships following their throwaway feedback.
This summer season, we have been handled to a farcical socially-distant model of this phase the place Tom force-fed viewers members their very own truffles, soliciting evaluations from them whereas brandishing the longest whisk I’ve ever seen (two meters, naturally).
Tom’s tirades cleverly subvert the trolling we see on-line through the present. By taking issues so significantly, he pokes enjoyable on the absurdity of feedback that demonise individuals for barely sagging sponges, or puddles of ice cream. His judgement of the viewers is predicated on the open understanding that he has no baking experience in any respect, which means that no matter is claimed can’t be taken to coronary heart.
It’s this willingness to be the butt of the joke that stands him in such good stead as a presenter on Bake Off – the place the hosts are actively inspired to know as little as doable about baking.
This lends a beautiful levelling to interactions between the ‘regular’ bakers and the celeb presenters, permitting for back-and-forth teasing between the 2 – sometimes when the baker has little time for the unannounced go to and is desperately making an attempt to eliminate the presenter within the politest approach doable.
Armed with a kitchen whisk, he good-naturedly berates the studio viewers for his or her kitchen mishaps (Image: Mark Bourdillon/Love Productions)
As we’ve seen on Bake Off: The Professionals, Tom playfully forges connections with contestants – his fast questions scary conversations that vary from puddings to holidays, relationships to maths.
He is ready to match the power of these he speaks to – the place they’re struggling, he’s capable of present heat optimistic empathy, or after they’re in a state of panic he punctures the bubble with the pithy remark that their nice patisserie seems to be a bit like a backside.
Crucially, he’s at all times on the contestant’s aspect – gently rinsing the judges for taking issues so significantly. When, for instance, The Professionals choose Cherish Finden criticises bakes for not being positioned in a superbly straight line, he rolls his eyes.
When challenges are described as thrilling, he replies: ‘sure – in the event you like crying into your gateau and being terrified on a regular basis’. When a baker triumphs, he celebrates with a real sense of pleasure.
Whereas the primary sequence has usually been criticised for being too severe – with complicated technical challenges and controversial choices – the festive specials are an opportunity for Bake Off to decompress somewhat. The stakes couldn’t be decrease: no person goes residence, which means that even when there’s a catastrophe, there’s lots of room to snort about it.
Out goes the aggressive edge, with the present as a substitute celebrating the straightforward pleasure of baking – together with a beneficiant serving to of innuendo, in fact. Are there every other seasons the place you’re actively inspired to toast your nuts on an open hearth?
Tom shall be an ideal match for this festive, playful episode. As a self-confessed Bake Off super-fan, I can solely think about he’ll be operating amok within the tent like, effectively, a toddler at Christmas – and I can’t wait to see how he will get on with Matt.
The proof will, in fact, be within the figgy pudding – however from the seems to be of issues, Tom’s prone to be a smash hit.