The Great British Baking Show “Party Week” was technically only the Quarter-Finals of the season, but that didn’t stop Paul Hollywood, Noel Fielding, and Alison Hammond from dropping repeated hints that they might already know who this year’s winner is. This week’s installment of the Netflix hit was chock full of Easter eggs and strange comments about how Tasha Stones was on her way to nabbing that championship cake stand. Tasha, to her credit, repeatedly laughed this all off, but I couldn’t help but notice how often the Netflix reality competition show’s producers seemingly went out of their way to include these comments. Sure, Noel and Alison needed to tease all the bakers about their chances of winning, but the signs pointing straight at Tasha were too numerous to ignore.
So is The Great British Baking Show tipping us off that Tasha is going to be this year’s ultimate Star Baker? Or is it all a ruse to distract us from Dan Hunter’s eventual victory lap, Matty Edgell’s dark horse win, or Josh Smalley’s extremely likely triumph?
The first thing you have to remember about The Great British Baking Show is it is a television show. It is manufactured from top to bottom to deliver entertainment. That’s why the casting process doesn’t just include baking quizzes, but psychological assessments. It’s why bakers are routinely eliminated to ratchet up the tension and drama. It’s even why it’s become more and more obvious which bakers will make it to the end of the season as early as Week 1. There are narratives that the producers of The Great British Baking Show love to tease out and this year they might be leaning a bit too hard into lionizing sweet, lovely, talented Tasha Stones.
Tasha first popped in the tent thanks to back-to-back wins in “Biscuit Week” and “Bread Week.” Even before that, however, she had already made Great British Baking Show history as the first deaf contestant to compete. While she’s been consistently great, there have been rumblings — even from yours truly — that Paul Hollywood might be favoring her over the other bakers. Nevertheless, there’s no doubt that she’s great with bread, fab with flavors, and one of this season’s most charming competitors. Given all that, she’s clearly a frontrunner. So why did it feel a bit much for her odds of winning the whole thing to be brought up again and again during “Party Week”?
The first person to bring up Tasha’s chances of making it to the final? Not Noel Fielding nor Alison Hammond, but Paul Hollywood himself. After Tasha shared her plans to make “Cider in the Park” themed Sausage Rolls for the Signature Challenge, Paul straight up asked Tasha, “So how do you feel about the final now? Do you think you’re in reach?”
Not taking the bait, Tasha politely said and signed, “Whatever happens now, I’m really proud.”
“Yeah, but you definitely want to win,” Noel said with his usual cheeky aplomb.
“You’re talented enough to get yourself through to the final, but it’s all about concentrating on each dish and getting it absolutely correct. So good luck,” Paul said.
While we watched Noel and Alison do this same song and dance with the rest of the bakers in the Quarter-Finals, Paul’s repeated insistence that Tasha was good enough to make it into the finals felt a bit like he was, once again, playing favorites. And I probably might have overlooked this entire exchange if The Great British Baking Show‘s producers didn’t keep a very telling blooper in the episode’s final cut.
During the Technical Challenge — which Tasha later won — Alison checks in on how she’s doing.
“Can you believe that you’ve gotten to the semi-finals?” Alison asks before she realizes her faux pas. “Sorry, it’s not the semi-finals. Sorry. That’s a bit awkward, isn’t it?”
Tasha’s eyes bulge in confusion as Alison continues. “I’m rushing this show on. That was really awkward… Can you believe you’ve won? How does it feel?”
Tasha plays along like a good improv student, but it felt like such a strange mistake to keep in the final edit unless the producers wanted to tip audiences off to the fact that Tasha was their favorite to win.
Between Paul’s comments and the producers’ editing choices, The Great British Baking Show is setting Tasha Stones up to win it all. This feels odd because I’d otherwise put my money on Josh Smalley taking it all. (After all, he is the Showstopper Svengali and what are the finals but non-stop Showstoppers?) Is The Great British Baking Show tipping fans off to a Tasha win? Or setting her up for a heartbreaking fall when the finale does air?
There are only two more episodes of The Great British Baking Show due on Netflix this year, so we’ll find out sooner or later if Tasha is the Bake Off Queen…