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The Great British Baking Show: Season 1
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PBS Season 1 (UK Season 5). Follow the trials and tribulations of passionate amateur bakers whose goal is to be named the U.K.'s best. Each week, the bakers tackle a different skill, the difficulty of which increases as the competition unfolds, judged by Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood.
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If you've watched our cooking and baking competition shows and wondered, "Why is everyone so mean? Why are they so loud? Why is this scene of people icing cupcakes overlain by a death metal guitar riff?" this may be the series to show you that this format can have kind contestants, a measured pace, personable hosts, and informative asides while remaining compelling TV.
If you want to learn some new methods, tricks, and facts while rooting for talented and truly likeable people (who, probably importantly, are allowed to stay likeable in that they are very much competing against the challenge constraints and their own skill rather than being directly pit against one another), give The Great British Baking Show [UK name: The Great British Bake Off] a try.
An ending note: I watched and enjoyed each of these as they aired on PBS. When the series was done, I sought for a legal way to watch previous seasons (purely ethical reasons notwithstanding, some jobs frown upon piracy). Alas, they don't seem to be available in the US aside from some sketchy YouTube uploads.
I hope that Amazon works magic with the BBC to get rights. Even if they couldn't swing getting them on Prime, there are those of us who would gladly pay.
Amazon -- PLEASE post trailers - or at the very least, pictures of the cast - for shows like this. Had I been able to see the contestants from this season I would not have purchased it.
Now, if this show had been made in the US, the participants would be models or out-of-work actors who took a crash course in baking right before the show, the producers would spend more time figuring out how to goose the participants into cheesy interpersonal dramas than actually plan cooking competitions, and I'd learn very little. I'm sure that at some point Food Network or whoever will copy this show and do exactly that.
My only complaint is that there's only one season available on Amazon right now. I'm thrilled that it's on Amazon Prime and therefore free to Prime members...but I definitely would like to see more. It's addicting.