Do you know what the most popular television programme was last year? It was the Great British Bake Off final, and they’ve repeated the feat this year – a record audience saw Nadiya Hussain’s win, with viewing figures of up to 14.5m (and millions more watched it on catch up TV systems).
A programme about baking, where the contestant’s unknown amateurs win a magnificent prize – a bunch of flowers and a glass plaque – beat everything else hands down; it beat all the celebrity shows, the soaps, all the ‘talent shows’ with huge prizes and a sadistic whiff of humiliating the eccentric and vulnerable.
When the immigration debate has taken another nasty turn (with the spurious suggestion that immigration is bad for the country and incompatible with social cohesion) wasn’t it fantastic to see such a cross section of the UK represented?
Despite all of its flaws, we are privileged in the UK to have a national public broadcaster – the BBC – that produces this and many other programmes, without the intervention of commercials.
Our exposure to a constant barrage of advertising has a serious long term effect. The report Common Cause Foundation co-published with Public Interest Research centre in 2011 “Think of Me as Evil?” presented evidence that advertising increases overall consumption; that it promotes and normalises a whole host of behaviours, attitudes and values, many of which are socially and environmentally damaging; that it manipulates individuals on a subconscious level, both children and adults; and that it is so pervasive in modern society as to make the choice of opting-out from exposure virtually impossible.
The BBC is one place we can turn for information and entertainment without this exposure; if it didn’t exist we’d be campaigning to invent it.
PS The meringues are vegan, I made these using chickpea water, cream of tartar and sugar. No chickens or unicorns were harmed.