First Larne Presbyterian Church

First Larne Presbyterian Church

The Great British Bake-Off: Lessons to learn?

COLLABORATION: The Ultimate Recipe

Over the past ten series, The Great British Bake Off has become as much a national institution as the Queen, self-deprecation, and talking about the weather.

A decade on from its conception, the show retains its popular position, demonstrated by the 9.4 million people who watched the 2019 premiere.

Bake Off’s sustained appeal is no surprise. When much of our news is a combination of confusing, depressing, and downright vitriolic, the opportunity to spend an hour soaking in the warm innocence of the Bake Off tent is a welcome escape.

The source of this sentiment soon becomes clear to those watching the show. Though billed as a ‘baking competition’, there’s something unusual about the way bakers ‘compete’. What takes place in the tent is more a working alongside than a working against.

When bakers have a spare minute, they help other contestants out. When they’re unsure of how to proceed, they ask one another. When they struggle or are sent home, the overwhelming reaction of the others isn’t relief or smugness, but compassion.

Knowingly or not, the contestants are expressing something of their created nature. In Genesis 1:26, God says ‘let us make mankind in our image’. The three-in-one God makes us for relationship: to express our creativity in partnership with others. There is something significant not just in what we do, but in how we do it.

Perhaps we feel that warm innocence when Bake Off hits our screens because it puts us in touch with something of the reality for which we were created, when we were innocent and unashamed. A reality that is all too often lost beneath the division we encounter daily but which nonetheless craves expression.

Bake Off is a window into this reality, and a reminder of not only what we were made for, but how we might live this out now. There is real value in demonstrating a different culture: refusing division, prioritising collaboration, and choosing community.

In competitive workplaces and a divided society, Bake Off reminds us that God’s image in humanity – the image that gives infinite value even to our ‘competitors’ – enables us to live and tell a better story. But, when the tide of culture is all too often flowing in the opposite direction, we must have the awareness and boldness to tell it and to live it out.


Matt Jolley

Matt is the Research Assistant at LICC