The triumph of niceness: Why the Great British Bake Off is an inspirational show

The Great British Bake Off (known as GBBO to its legion of fans), has become somewhat of a British institution. Whilst there are a myriad of cooking shows on TV, GBBO has risen above the rest to become one of the most popular shows of the year. Last nights final, in which (SPOILER ALERT), Nadiya Hussain was crowned the winner, a massive 13.4 million viewers tuned in for the final hour of nail biting-ly tense baking.  

But why has GBBO become so popular? Well for one thing, it involves copious amounts of cake, is presented by the wonderfully funny Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, and two words: Mary Berry. Mary has become a national treasure, her kindly words and knowing smile (and of course her amazing dress sense) cannot be underestimated. And another thing, the puns and innuendos are constantly making me laugh so much it hurts. But even though all of these things have certainly contributed to GBBO’s success, I believe one particular element above all others is the reason it’s become a must watch TV event.

On most talent shows, there is an element of bitchy-ness and over competitiveness. Contestants are encouraged to prize their ambition above all else, and willingly throw their fellow competitors underneath the bus to advance to the next stage of the competition.

On GBBO, this element is nonexistent. The contestants not only seem friendly with one another, but they actively support, encourage and help each other. On the latest series, this was abundantly clear. Tamal and Nadiya’s brother/sister bickering relationship was abundantly clear in the final. The moment Paul helped Alvin with his ice cream roll. Flora squeezing Nadiya’s hand when she was announced as star baker. The overwhelmingly element of GBBO is…niceness.

Yes this is a baking show, but we can’t underestimate it’s impact on the national consciousness. Over the last ten years, reality TV has been infused with a Simon Cowell style Mr Nasty approach to its contestants. Laughing at people was actively encouraged. Niceness, in contrast, was looked down upon.

GBBO has changed all this. Not only are the contestants nice and genuine people, but they are also hugely talented at what they do - and talent is often a very underrated component of reality TV. And I think this commitment to niceness is what makes GBBO great, and kind of inspiring. It’s something that everybody should aspire too - being nice to others is a admirable trait.

Just after Nadiya Hussain was proclaimed winner she said this:


I’m never going to put boundaries on myself ever again. I’m never going to say I can’t do it. I’m never going to say maybe. I’m never going to say I don’t think I can. I can and I will
— Nadiya Hussain


These beautiful words made me cry, and again they demonstrate the importance of a show that celebrates being nice.