A few days ago, Channel Nine announced a casting call for a brand new reality series, The Great Australian Bake Off. Based on the British version, The Great British Bake Off, the show takes amateur bakers around Australia to visit various baking institutions and compete in respective challenges. It’s a show that has spawned two regular and two special (Junior and Sports Relief) seasons with a third on the way. It has won a BAFTA Award and was nominated for a Rose D’Or earlier this year. But will it work here, or fall under the guise of a MasterChef rip off?
While the series has shown relative success in the UK, a success which seems to be rising, it poses many similarities to MasterChef. One example, after the second season of The Great British Bake Off finished, specials of the show were aired, aptly titled The Great British Bake Off: MasterClass.
I’m not too sure about the British public’s reaction to shows of similar nature to others (I know many of their reality shows cover similar niches of other reality shows), but here in Australia where reality television seems to be at an all time high, especially in the cooking department, could this series be too close to home for MasterChef fans to enjoy?
The show does have many differences- travelling around the country to compete in different challenges is one of them. That point of difference didn’t seem to do squat for Excess Baggage though, where the whole ‘losing weight in different exotic Australian locations’ thing failed to draw eyeballs. To be fair though, before Excess Baggage got to its second location most of the audience had abandoned the show already.
The show will also centre exclusively on the art of baking, which is diverse and requires many skills, but no where near as diverse as MasterChef which centres on every aspect of cooking.
The show also seems to include less contestants. One criticism I would have of MasterChef is too many contestants; so this could be of benefit to the show. With less personalities to introduce ourselves to, we can definitely connect with contestants better at different levels.
But other than that, it is a show with challenges, eliminations and a winner…and a whole lot of cooking. I can definitely see fans crying copy over this product.
But it’s not necessarily the similarities the show shares with MasterChef that gets me concerned. My Kitchen Rules faced similar criticisms and is now doing quite well, if not better than MasterChef. Then again, My Kitchen Rules was based off of a show previously aired on Seven BEFORE MasterChef.
What I’m concerned about is whether or not this is a good time to launch a brand new ‘original’ cooking show off the back of MasterChef, on a rival network, with no apparent hype; and more importantly, a show that focuses on a tighter niche of the market.
This won’t be Nine’s first venture into the culinary entertainment market. The networked trialled The Boss Is Coming To Dinner, another Australian adaption of a UK format, which was pulled after two episodes due to low ratings. This show didn’t work because it launched at the peak of MasterChef, and was just seen as a lazy attempt at the market. And if other Nine shows would suggest, such as Top Design, HomeMADE and Between The Lines, the network hasn’t had much success launching new shows of genres that has already been explored.
And while MasterChef had this very same criticism, I really don’t think the format of this show is suitable for Australian prime-time television. It’s just too ‘daytime-y’. As much as MasterChef has changed our perception on the cooking genre, baking still seems so dry. It sounds like show that only the CWA or a rotary club would want to discuss (not dissing either association). I could be wrong.
I just think this is a show that will be seen as nothing but a MasterChef rip off. A long-shot attempt for the network to enter the foray of cooking. The timing of the show, the concept and the appeal should all work against it. But will it?
What do you think?
Oh, and by the way, please don’t let me turn you off of applying. If you want to get on the show and prove us all wrong, please do so here. You have until August 24. Production of the show isn’t set to commence until September. This means the show will either air in summer, which could work, or 2013.