The Lessons from Bakexit!

Is the end of an era nigh? Will the Great British Bake-off succeed in pastures new or crumble (sorry!) as its two hosts Mel and Sue– and now show matriarch Mary Berry – say farewell to soggy bottoms.

Whilst Bake Off might be dismissed as a light-as-a-meringue reality show, for its millions of viewers its whole-hearted approach calms and feeds the soul on a Wednesday night, and the decision that Mel Giedroyc, Sue Perkins and Mary Berry made – to remain loyal to the BBC – should be admired and deserves to be reflected upon.

They are all successful, established women and while their departure won’t ruin their careers the decision to leave was still a courageous one. Moving stations would undoubtedly have brought financial benefits – but those types of rewards didn’t sway them.

I read an article recently that described how Mel and Sue were at the core of the ‘warmth and humanity’ that the show exudes. They made it their mission to ‘create a model for reality TV that protects, not exploits, people's mental health and emotional integrity’. They did this by loudly swearing during contestants embarrassing moments so the footage was rendered unusable and covering people with coats when they cried so they couldn’t be seen. They initially declined the offer to host the show because they weren’t comfortable with the ‘human interest drama’ device that most reality TV shows rely on. How interesting that the show has thrived without it…

‘Bake Off is currently one of the highest-rated reality shows on TV. The fact that it doesn’t ridicule or embarrass its competitors is the very recipe which has made the show such a success. Our interest is deeply rooted in the bakers and their achievements and when things go wrong we genuinely care, inspired by others who genuinely care. 

If we compare this to everyday work or life situations we have to ask how often do we try to over-complicate things, or fail to see the human cost or the emotional impact of what we do? Perhaps simpler is better… Perhaps kinder is more powerful… Perhaps believing in the ability of those around us, wanting them to succeed might be the answer.

What do the decisions made by this formidable trio tell us about them? That they have a mixing bowl full of integrity, that they stick to their values come what may, that – despite the pressures placed upon them – they put people, not profit, first. 

The outcome? They are admired, respected and hugely successful. They are an example to us all. How can we be more like them? By having the courage of our convictions, by being comfortable with vulnerability and most of all by connecting with those around us.