Catch Up TV reviews: The Great Celebrity Bake Off, The Celebrity Circle, Meghan and Harry, Return to Dunblane
Ivan Radford | On 14, Mar 2021
The Great Celebrity Bake Off (All 4)
Taking celebrities into the Bake Off tent has always been a neat way to mix up the GBBO recipe, as it reminds us that no matter who the star is or how successful they are, everyone can struggle to whip up a Victoria Sponge under pressure. The latest run of five episodes – which will later include James McAvoy – kicks off with Daisy Ridley, Rob Beckett, Tom Allen and Alexandra Burke. Burke and Beckett are great fun, simultaneously taking things seriously and shrugging it off, while Ridley’s frowning concentration is amusingly diffused by Matt Lucas. On solo presenting duties, he’s a much better fit on his second Bake Off course, able to up-end the required duties but also find breathing space to be kinder and more supportive. But the real treat here is Bake Off Professional presenter Tom Allen, who walks off with the whole show. He’s already at home in the Bake Off tent and doesn’t hesitate to demonstrate it to judges Paul Hollywood wand Prue Leith. Deliciously knowing, delightfully extravagant and as hilariously panicked as any contestant, he’s a joy to watch in action. A request to the chef: a whole Bake Off season devoted to putting the judges and presenters behind the counters please.
The Celebrity Circle (All 4)
Reality TV is far from novel these days, and it’s testament to the strength of Channel 4’s The Circle that its format does feel fresh and different – housing contestants in an apartment block where they only interact via a social media platform and have to become the most popular, while either being themselves or pretending to be someone else. A celebrity version, then, might seem a bit pointless, but there’s an inspired idea behind this charity special: the celebrities can either be themselves or pretend to be another celebrity instead. And so we get Pete Wicks and Sam Thompson pretending to be Rachel Riley, Kaye Adams and Nadia Sawalha pretending to be Gemma Collins and Lady Leshurr impersonating Big Narstie, not to mention Drag Race UK’s Baga Chipz playing as How Clean Is Your House? host Kim Woodburn. What follows is as enjoyably gossipy as ever, as people try to work out the best way to be popular and take down their rivals, but has the added fun of seeing stars trying to guess if they’re being catfished or not. Denise and Duncan, we discover, know each other in real life, while Baga Chipz is friends with Kim Woodburn, which in theory makes it easier for her to sound like here. But when the line-up also includes YouTube Saffron Barker, who doesn’t know who some of the others are, the scope for each contestant to fall flat on their face is high. If you pay The Circle a visit, prepare to move in for every episode.
Oprah with Meghan and Harry (ITV Hub)
Simultaneously the talk of the moment and something that feels like it happened a life time ago, the week began with this strikingly candid interview from Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, tackling the treatment of her by the royal family as well as the media. There’s twee American sentiment and dramatic pauses aplenty, not to mention copious cutaway shots of chickens, but nobody except for Oprah Winfrey could get away with this kind of probing, heartfelt questioning – the kind that has already spawned memes but nonetheless gets to the core of the matter. She asks follow-ups, understands audience concerns and doesn’t waste her access for a second – it’s a masterclass in interviewing. As for the interviewees, Meghan is straightforward and calls out the animosity and racial prejudice she’s experienced, while Harry is supportive even as he refuses to go into certain details. Both come across superbly, calm and composed but not rehearsed, and the result is must-see TV, even though you’ve already seen most of it already.
Return to Dunblane With Lorraine Kelly (ITV Hub)
How on earth do you even begin to process the tragic disaster of Dunblane on television? Hiring Lorraine Kelly is a good start, as the veteran presenter revisits the small Scottish town 25 years after 16 primary school children and their teacher were killed by a gunman. It’s an atrocity that still triggers strong emotions even now, and Kelly herself almost breaks down as he talks to survivors and relatives of the victims of the shooting. Changes to British gun laws eventually followed, and that legacy is as striking as the resilience found among the community, which Kelly presents with a sensitive, respectful tone and a familiarity that only brings home the tragedy afresh.