If there is a mark of a man in this new age, it must be the amount of tears he draws from other contestants when he is forced to make his departure from a reality TV show.

If that is the case, then Ali from Birmingham is quite a man - for his exit from 'Great British Bake Off' this week found both Howard and Christine wiping their tears away.

Ali's elimination this week was inevitable from the start, when he pronounced that he wouldn't taste his own fruit pie, in fact he "loathed" it. But even then, the result was.... "bitter sweet," said Christine. "He is such a nice man."

great british bake off
Ali's departure brought tears from the other contestants

"I had no joy in my getting through this week," she explained, even after she'd cried for her own disaster with a soggy bottom (pastry) earlier. "I know that sounds weird."

It would sound weird, Christine, if this were any other show, but we've already discovered it isn't. This is the show that found Howard's custard being pilfered - accidentally - last week by a rival contestant, who then spent the rest of the hour trying desperately to make it up to him.

MORE: 5 Reasons We Love 'Great British Bake Off'

When one of the cakes went wrong the week before, it was because the presenter Sue Perkins' elbow had gone in it, for heaven's sake.

And this week we saw, amidst the skills of pastry being spread gossamer-thin, not just sweet-faced contestant Ruby having a good old bash with her filo pastry, but veteran judge Mary Berry not being able to resist having a go, either.

For a show that eliminates a contestant each week, and is intent on elevating one baker above the others, it is a lesson in the value of sharing a common interest, and how competition needn't clash with camaraderie. Long may it reign, and serve as a gentle antidote to the dog-eat-dog reality TV world beyond the marquee.

Now my favourite Ali's gone, who do you think will be taking home this year's title?

PHOTOS: Series 4 Bakers
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