Nine’s The Great Australian Bake-Off, based on a break-out UK hit series, is filmed in the historic grounds of Werribee Park Mansion has a country fair feel to it.
There’s a 1950s-style kitchen in a marquee with pastel colours, classic old fridges, mixmasters, Australiana, and a string of fete flags. This gives it a bright and relaxed feel, compared to the urban, contemporary kitchen of Masterchef.
The colours are laid on thick. There are tempting cake toppings, creamy cupcakes and gooey fondant all of which makes this very eye-catching.
But the real test for any Reality show is in the casting and I’m encouraged by this mix of unlikely Aussies who turn extravagant when they are unleashed on ripple cakes, lamingtons and pies.
There’s the boxer, the Greek mum, the architect, the lesbian synchronised swimmer and the chartered accountant who makes spreadsheets of all his recipes down to the final grams.
They have to face up to two judges, baker Dan Lepard and cake queen Kerry Vincent, whose Cruella deVil-like comments will surely polarise viewers. She will emerge as this show’s talking point, which is most surely good for business.
When the show kicks off it begins with a seemingly-endless sizzle reel of what’s to come in the series (do we even need to watch the series after this?). It teases yummy dishes, contestant drama, and tough-love judges.
Host Anna Gare is joined by Shane Jacobson -there to debunk the fancy bits for blokes, presumably.
The cooks are tested through a range of freestyle and mandatory challenges, blind-tasted by the judges with one eliminated each week.
Yet in a cloying effort to keep the show buoyant, Bake-off can’t resist overdoing things on the soundtrack, like Nine’s other series, The Block. In depending on this it makes the mistake of using vocal pop underneath dialogue, rather than instrumental music. This results in competing interests, a mistake made by many producers.
But while MasterChef: The Professionals was too elitist in its recipes and My Kitchen Rules focusses on rivalry rather than cuisine, Bake-Off produces dishes that may be achievable by the audience (even if many sugar-soaked dishes wouldn’t get the Heart Foundation’s tick of approval).
As long as it gets a tick from the audience that’s all that really matters.
The Great Australian Bake-Off starts 8pm Tuesday July 9 on Nine.