For those who have never experienced the quaint charms of The Great British Bake Off, it may be difficult to understand the hold this baking show has over the United Kingdom. A competition between the best amateur bakers in the country--hosted by comedians Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, judged by baking legends Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood--it's a show that has utterly captivated the nation.
From left to right: Paul Hollywood, Mary Berry, Mel Giedroyc, Sue Perkins. Photo: Mark Bourdillon/BBC
The finale of the most recent season, the series' fifth, drew in an estimated 12.29 million viewers, the largest audience of the year for a non-sporting event. In a country of roughly 60 million, that means that around 20% of the country tuned in, which shows the massive emotional investment Brits place in the program. Earlier in the same season, a suspected instance of sabotage--which came to be known as Freezergate--sparked a national outrage, with hundreds of complaints being filed with the BBC.
Given the almost unparalleled prominence of the show, the fact that Ruby Tandoh, a season four runner-up, came out this morning quickly set the British media world ablaze. Embracing one's sexuality is always cause for celebration, but the way in which Tandoh went about making the announcement was truly incredible.
She then poked fun at those who had, over the years, criticized her for being overly flirty with judge Paul Hollywood:
Before retweeting a tongue-in-cheek comment from a fan:
Tandoh was only 20 when she was on the show. A talented baker who lacked confidence, every win, every bit of praise was met with shock. Her demeanor was vividly contrasted with that of fellow runner-up Kimberly Wilson, who exuded surety and confidence. As the show aired, the two were attacked on social media for their respective attitudes, something which prompted an eloquent response from Tandoh on The Guardian. She has since become increasingly vocal on issues of feminism and food, gaining even more of a following.
The Great British Bake Off has always been strong on the LGBT front--host Sue Perkins is openly gay, as is season three winner John Whaite, to name just a couple--which makes Tandoh the latest addition to a very visible contingent.