Like most people I am struggling this week to come to terms with a shocking loss. Great British Bake Off is off. Off to the hinterlands of Channel 4, away from the warm and cosy embrace of the BBC.
Both social and main stream media have been awash with bad baking puns, innuendoes and cries of woe that this beloved programme is being moved. And being moved for that dirtiest of reasons as far the British are concerned – dough.
So what is it about this programme that has so captured the imagination of the public? To have moved from an obscure slot on BBC2, to being the most watched programme of the year, GBBO seems to have tapped into something the British audience has been looking for.
As I was watching them flip their lacy pancakes last night, the best way I could describe the programme is – it’s nice. “Nice” – a word which generally means; “OK, but could be better” or “at least it’s not horrible”. It’s not generally a word we would use about a loved one and woe betide any lover who, when asked, says their night of passionate love making was “nice”.
So it’s interesting that it feels like such a good word for GBBO and perhaps helps to explain why the show is resonating with so many people.
GBBO is off to Channel 4, which has a plethora of reality programming. Looking at reality TV in general, pretty much every show I can think of depends on the participants being not nice. Big Brother started as an interesting experiment in social interaction and deteriorated into weirdness, back stabbing and nastiness. And all the rest seem to follow suit.
But maybe GBBO suggests that actually we don’t want to see this. Maybe we can enjoy watching people in a competition being nice to each other, helping out, supporting our fellow humans. Maybe there is room in a hostile world for people to show compassion.
And if there is room in a baking competition in a tent in the British country side for niceness and compassion, there should be room in our relationships for the same. Relationships hit crisis points for many reasons, often leaving the couple struggling to defend themselves emotionally. In this situation niceness is often the first casualty. Helping clients to be “nice” to each other can be a powerful way of helping them share and resolve vulnerabilities and put the relationship back where they want it. And it seems we do value niceness after all. So go on, be nice.