The Great Australian Bake-Off

2013-06-22_0149Cooking shows are everywhere these days so the challenge for any newcomer is to offer a point of difference.

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.


  1. The idea of this show was brilliant. However, Nine has focused on personality clashes rather than the actual baking. Most of the “contestants”, aren’t very good bakers. They were chosen for their demographic.

    There must be at least three males. Preferably one gay, but we can work around that. Because there are not many indigenous bakers, and we can’t rope in an African American, we must make sure there is at least one Asian. Check. You can work out the rest.

    On to the judges. Dan Lepard is a darling, but, really! Do you have to have the “sensitive, gay stereotype who cannot say a bad thing about anyone”? As for Kerry Vincent, yes, she knows her cake “decorating”. But, nine has signed her up for a “you are the weakest link, good bye”, vibe, and it doesn’t work. No one can top the divine Ms Cornelia Francis.

    Seriously, some of the contestants made it through the audition process without ever having even baked a loaf of bread in their lives. Keep Baking pure.

  2. I predict this will flop. It’s been too long coming and viewers don’t have an appetite for waiting so long. Every time I here a ‘coming soon’ promo coming from Nine I know not to hold my breath as they take to long to air most of them.

  3. Nine should be very careful with GABO. It could well be their equivalent of Celebrity Splash. I correctly called that Splash would be a dud for Seven (although I admit it caused far more trouble than just viewer turn-off), and I predict GABO will be a dud for Nine. Am calling it now!

  4. hoping its great. i’m not sick of reality tv at all but so over chefs and wannabe chefs and all the hating. it looks like its a fun show and if theres enough detail in it showing how things are made i’ll be hooked. that baker dan is interesting …the woman is a bit predictable but who knows

    Will definately watch the first three then decide…

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