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TV REVIEW: 5 Reasons We Love The Great British Bake Off

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Tonight sees the return of that culinary salute to middle, comforting, semi-rural England with the fourth series of 'The Great British Bake Off'.

All four regulars - presenters Sue Perkins, Mel Giedroyc, and judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood - return to the tent, to encourage thirteen of the country's top amateur bakers.

PICTURES: Below are this series' new faces - who looks like a winner?

Cue culinary metaphors - what a feast, a delicious concoction of elements comprising to create a perfectly-baked whole. Here are just five of the ingredients I tasted separately, acknowledging readily that they don't do justice to the melt-in-the-mouth final offering....

great british bake off
Sue Perkins and Mel Giedgroyc are the perfect choice to front the show

The presenters... Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins are an imaginative but perfect choice to front this televised village fete. Both could have stepped straight from the pages of a Joanna Trollope novel with their wholesome good sense, good humour, they're both middle England, but with a naughty twist. “Just a shame you can’t get any double entendres out of that”, said Sue of this week's challenge. “Tarts...nope, nothing,” agreed Mel. Underplayed perfection.

The experts... Forget your Jose Mourinhos, George Clooneys, in Paul Hollywood, The Great British Bake Off has its own silver fox, secure enough in his male-ness to spend a happy hour discussing egg consistencies with the bakers in a tent.

The question this series, of course, is whether the nation will forgive resident silver fox Hollywood for taking his apron to the States for the American version, promptly becoming involved with his Stateside co-host and splitting from his British wife. Hollywood has told Radio Times he doesn't care what anyone not in the know thinks, but will the UK viewers prove more forgiving than his US counterparts (where the series was promptly dropped), and remain to enjoy his musings on a tarte tatin?

Meanwhile, there remains no arguing with Mary Berry, whose recently revealed distaste of hostile TV chefs is just another reason why she's one of my shortlist of people who SHOULD be running the country.

great british bake off
Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry provide the expertise on the show

The setting... While the Masterchef contestants battle it out in a hermetically-sealed laboratory, some sort of culinary bunker with no natural daylight in sight, these chaps sieve their flour and torch their tarts in a tent, with the walls flapping. There’s a lake in the background, green grass, trees blowing. We’re reminded that cooking is at its most appealing when it’s seen in context of nature and the elements.

The descriptions... It's impossible to resist the descriptions - “pastry perfection”... “a little bit of a soggy bottom”... “apple and lavender tarte tartin”... “vanilla and pear”... “walnut praline”… building up to the ultimate promise of “lattice”. It's like walking into a more innocent age, playing in the vicar's garden, while she cooks us all up a tea. Impossible to resist.

VOTE: Is The Great British Bake Off The Best Cookery Show On Television?

Finally, the hobbies... While one contestant likes to knit when's she not baking, another plays in a brass band, another lets his young daughter helps him prepare his plate of delights. The message is clear - these are people with full, satisfying lives, capable of knocking up an apple pie with half an hour to spare, and delivering it to the town hall in time for the choir to finish rehearsing. It conjures up many happy hours in and out of the kitchen. I can't get enough of it. I want to move to a village, or at least learn how to turn on the oven.

PHOTOS: Series 4 - more contestants obsessed with cakes...

The Great British Bake Off Series 4
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