Damned are all ye who enter here.
It’s time to go amateur detective to figure out which contestants will rise (like a soufflé) and fall (like a soufflé) in this year’s Great British Bake Off.
Last year, similar prediction methods resulted in this detective correctly predicting TWO out of THREE of the finalists before a second of footage had even aired.
The clues are simple, but not for those of a weak disposition. They include:
- The dates a contestant has been active on Twitter and Instagram (was there a sudden upsurge in activity mid-competition, indicating a departure?)
- Photos of the contestants’ baking (to quote Paul Hollywood: “duh”)
- A contestant’s personal blog (profesh or pro-MESS??)
- Whether a contestant follows or is followed by a PR agency (I suspect the GBBO producers may have cottoned on to this amateur detective’s one and only trick and warned their contestants thusly, but we shall see)
- The words the baker users to refer to themselves and their bakes (the greatest clue of all)
Herewith we go.
Lukewarm is the temperature of baths and tepid, tepid clues, but the trail Luke leaves is HOT, HOT, HOT. Firstly, the 30-year-old baker refers to himself as a “#GBBO2018 contestant” in his Instagram bio, and extensive research by scientists at the University of Me has found that winners call themselves “bakers”, while early-leavers prefer the c-word.
His most recent post says “I’m going to be on the tv!”, followed by a nervous emoji, indicating that this – the act of appearing on the televisual box – is the most remarkable part of his journey. Classic Week 1 departure stuff.
And were that not enough for you, oh ravenous crows, Luke also posted pictures of his Berlin holiday all throughout June – the baking month.
Estimated departure: Week 1
Briony appears to make bakes that are both vegan and gluten free, which means the devil has claimed her as his own.
Over the last week she’s been filling up Instagram with pictures of her bakes and boosting her blog, on which she calls herself a “home baker”. In 2009 she joined Twitter, followed a cam girl, and hasn’t tweeted since.
It’s all there – for those who are gifted with the ability to see it.
Estimated departure: Week 2
The clues are mixed, like flour and butter in Paul Hollywood’s grubby fingers.
Antony’s Instagram shows he started practicing bread and Choux buns in January, and beneath a recent picture of Panna Cotta is the damning comment from fellow baker Ruby: “And they were just as good as they looked!”
This could indicate that both contestants stayed in until the weirdo wildcard week where producers run wild and shout “Eh! Mix me up some milk!”
And yet! And yet! As one of the few remaining people with the little red analog date at the bottom of their pictures, we can see that Antony made a bake for a party on 27.05.2018 14:52. He also made a “birthday cake order” on 3 June.
Ant sans Dec could be still be an incredibly-skilled finalist (you can taste his bakes if you lick the screen), but there is one final, potentially cursed, clue.
On 2 June 2018 – which my calendar app indicates was a SATURDAY – Antony was tagged in a picture at a London pub. As any God-fearing citizen knows, GBBO bakers bake on Saturdays and Sundays. Either Antony is the maddest mad lad whose hungover baking should not be shown on our screens before the watershed, or he is gone, gone, gone from the tent and our hearts.
Estimated departure: Week 3
Imelda has a private Instagram. What am I supposed to do with that, Imelda?
Think about what you’ve done.
Estimated departure: Week 4
Karen, Karen, your Twitter is barren – so cruelly taunted the children on the playground when this 60-year-old baker was but a girl. Karen has only just started following other bakers on Twitter – indicating that no bonds of friendship were forged in the fiery ovens of the tent – and after a hiatus in February, she started liking tweets mid-June. You’re gone Karen. You’re done. Get out.
Estimated departure: Week 5
Dan has a nice-looking blog with nice-looking bakes, and he resumed posting cake pictures on Instagram in mid-July. His only tweet reads “Well, this is about to get interesting… #GBBO”.
Seemingly only four of this year’s bakers have Twitter, and reports from my ego indicate that the producers warned the contestants about their social media after finding out about my extremely successful detective agency. That, or they didn’t want to sign up to a platform full of Nazis.
Estimated departure: Week 6
Nearly everyone KJ follows on Twitter bakes – or seemingly is a – cake. Her followers behold more clues, however, as she was extremely recently (like, today) followed by the agent who represents previous GBBO finalists Ian (2015) and Jane (2016). Lest your ears prick too verily, however, this agent also represents Ugne (who left in episode 5 in 2015) and Howard (dearly departed in episode 6 of 2013).
So let us turn to Instagram for clues. Kim-Joy steadily posted pictures up until April, then only resumed again in August. A finalist, mama? Well son, one caption says she “love[s] how quick and easy ciabatta is to make” which stinks of someone who dominated bread week (ciabatta has not been baked since 2014, which indicates it could be in this year’s competition).
But son, what kind of detective would I be if I ignored the greatest clue of all? Kim-Joy refers to herself in her bio as a “self-taught baking enthusiast”, indicating she doesn’t have the confidence that comes from Paul Hollywood’s hand gripping hers in a machismo show of a job well done.
Not only that, but KJ recently posted a picture of Choux buns and said they were “probably slightly underbaked”. Pastry week is week six or seven – the week of Kim Joy’s reckoning, the week where it all ends.
Estimated departure: Week 7
The only reason I’m putting Jon here is because he looks very nice.
Estimated departure: Week 8
Mmm, Manon. This is not only the sound a once-great detective makes while perusing the Instagram of this year’s spicy French contestant, but also a handy theme song (sung to the tune of a popular yoghurt brand’s jingle) that I am happy for Manon to use, free of charge.
Here’s the facts: cold, plain, hard. Manon relaunched her Instagram on 29 July, with the exceptionally saucy words, “Resharing some of my favourite recipes on the blog this month to get ready for some new comers”. Not only does she follow the other bakers, she followers the other bakers’ partners and mothers, indicating friendship’s firmer than your mum’s Victoria sponge.
And what’s this? At the time of writing, Manon is the only baker that Martha, quarter-finalist from 2014’s series, follows on Insta-G. Perhaps they met in the hallowed halls of a PR agency. Perhaps indeed!
Estimated departure: Week 9
Ruby has two Instagram accounts: a personal one and one for her bakes. Not only does that mean the Kaiser Chiefs have to lose two Rubies from their lyrics (“Ruby, Ruby” – pause – “ahahhhhh”), it also means that Ruby absolutely REEKS of a pro. (Although she might just be cocky: this account was set up all the way back in February.)
Her bio announces that her website is coming soon (is there a designer working behind the scenes?) and she is leaving plenty of friendly comments on her fellow bakers’ posts. Is the fact Ruby leaves no clues a clue in itself? This just in: no.
Some might say that my inability to find a single crumb about Rahul on the WWWs (apart from a tweet referencing his attendance at baking show in Rotheram in 2017) indicates a fundamental misunderstanding of what it means to be a detective: a black mark on the entire art.
To those I say: clearly Rahul has been told not to tweet because he is a winning cake-maker, and the producers are trying to keep his wooden spoons firmly in the drawer.
That, or he went out on week one.
I can’t find Terry, either. But he has a very nice moustache.
(Pictures: Channel 4)