Review: Mary Berry's latest series made you wonder if she was Covid secure, while Bake-Off's Nadiya was the one who brought comfort in cakes

It’s amazing how far The Great British Bake-Off has sunk into the psyche of the nation over the past 10 years. From it’s John Lewis pastel aesthetic to a raft of shows with a combination of ‘Great’, ‘British’ and ‘Off’ in the title, we’re all in thrall to the tent.

Friday, 11th September 2020, 6:00 pm

Two Bake-Off alumni pitched up this week, faces and kitchens aglow with recipes designed to bring us bunting-festooned comfort in these troubled times.

Mary Berry’s Simple Comforts (BBC2, Wed, 8pm) and Nadiya Bakes (BBC2, Weds, 8.30pm), however, provoked contrasting emotions.

Mary’s show promised us a “hug in a pan”, but showed us the former Bake-Off host strolling the crowded streets of Paris, making crepes, or watching an artisanal baker massaging his baguette.

Former Bake-Off winner Nadiya Hussain was back in Nadiya Bakes

Everything seemed designed to seek comfort, not so much in the food, but in the company of friends and family – and when is it going to feel safe to do that?

In fact, you couldn’t help worrying about Mary, vulnerable pensioner that she is, especially when she enjoyed a lengthy, Sunak-friendly bistro lunch with three Parisians taking a break from the office.

Bake-Off winner Nadiya Hussain’s recipes, on the other hand, were all meant to be eaten and cooked ‘in the bubble’, reinforcing the point by showing the socially-distanced crew enjoying her mango sponge cake.

Filmed pre-lockdown, it’s not Mary’s fault her show made you hanker – not for her crab blinis – but for a time when you can sit in a cafe and not worry if the bloke at the next table is going to cough Covid all over you.

When ‘all this’ is over, I’ll seek out Mary’s show, but until then, I’ll don my official Bake-Off apron, and take comfort in Nadiya’s cakes.

Another Bake-Off person was looking at one of the world’s most pressing geopolitical issues in Sue Perkins: Along the US-Mexico Border (BBC1, Mon/Tue, 9pm). Emotive, but admirably even-handed.

With fewer new shows in the schedules, I’ve been watching Aussie comedy-drama Rake (Netflix), about a dissolute barrister. Hugely enjoyable, thanks to an engaging Richard Roxburgh in the title role.