The Great British Bake Off without Mel and Sue? Tent-based tragedies do not come any deeper. Alison Carr is struggling. She bloody loves those two.
And now, now we can’t even take solace in a nice, gentle baking programme fronted by our favourite comedy duo, because even that’s blown up into a massive clusterfuck.
The most recent upset (at the time of writing, who knows what’ll happen next; maybe Mary Berry will stage a tent-top protest) saw Mel and Sue announce that they won’t be going with Bake Off to Channel Four. The news came in the form of a joint statement full of baking puns. Because, obviously.
“We were very shocked and saddened to learn yesterday evening that Bake Off will be moving from its home. We made no secret of our desire for the show to remain where it was.
The BBC nurtured the show from its infancy and helped give it its distinctive warmth and charm, growing it from an audience of two million to nearly 15 million at its peak.
We’ve had the most amazing time on Bake Off, and have loved seeing it rise and rise like a pair of yeasted Latvian baps.
We’re not going with the dough. We wish all the future bakers every success.”
Bake Off will never be the same without them because Mel and Sue are the greatest and here’s some reasons why.
Light/Late Lunch. This slightly shambolic, freewheeling cookery/chatshow affair first introduced me to the twosome in the late 90s. Remember it? They would mess around in a kitchen with a chef before serving up the food to celebrity guests while an audience of students and OAPs tucked into their own lunches brought from home.
I was a teenager with an oddball sense of humour and a questionable dress sense, and here were these two women unlike anyone else on telly at the time and who I felt like I absolutely got. They were silly and smart and funny and I was totally devoted from that day on.
They are the ultimate in Friendship Goals. This is no made-for-TV partnership; these two have been pals since university. The story goes that after they graduated, Mel wrote Sue a letter asking if she’d like to form a comedy partnership with her. Sue said yes. Thank God.
It’s a joy to see them crack each other up on Bake Off, where they are so obviously bessie mates having fun together.
But for all their joking around these two are quite clearly devoted to each other. Until recently my friend thought they were a couple. She was so disappointed when I told her they’re not.
In Sue’s memoir Spectacles, some of the most touching passages are when she talks about her and Mel’s friendship, how it’s endured over the different stages of their lives. It’s so honest and moving and no, you’re crying.
They’re multitalented. Perkins and Giedroyc have never split up – there’s been no need for me to ring a Take That-esque hotline – but they’re not averse to doing their own thing.
Sue’s a Radio 4 regular and has written a sitcom; Mel acts on screen and stage in comic and serious roles. They present, write, conduct at the Proms (Sue won Maestro) and have had a No. 1 single (Mel was part of Gareth Malone’s All Star Choir). It’s actually quite aggravating. I might be going off them.
But they’re at their best together. Whether it be their BBC Radio 4 comedy series, their slot on RI:SE (the only reason to watch it), live on stage and especially in that white marquee, together they’re daft, funny, lovable and cheeky and it’s irresistible.
They’re Mel and Sue, bitches. They’re two women in their 40s fronting a primetime BBC One monster-hit in their own inimitable style.
They’re relatable, not pinched and preened within an inch of their lives, but comfortable and normal. (Although I do often have Mel hair envy – that woman can rock a plaited do that I can only dream of).
They’ve weathered ups and downs in a decades-long career that started at a 10am slot the Edinburgh Fringe and currently sees them making headlines for quitting a programme in which people bake cakes.
They inspired one of Twitter’s greatest hashtags, #Breadxit, because that’s how much the nation has taken them to their hearts (clearly they were already in mine) and we all agree that life is forever changed. Note: when I say ‘life’ I mean three months over the summer.
Sue Perkins. Mel Giedroyc. I salute you. Whatever you do next, I’ll be watching (that sounds more creepy than I meant it).
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Alison is a playwright and would-be tap dancer. She lives in Newcastle upon Tyne.