The Great British Bake Off Finale – Who will rise to the challenge and who will crash and burn?

It’s the Bake Off final this Wednesday. Everybody knows because BBC1 have been intermittently interrupting programmes with the plummy voice of Mary Berry. Not that they really needed to do this much plugging – the viewing figures for this series have hit record highs as the nation tuned in to drool over Tamal’s ‘Vol au Vents’ (and also Tamal, according to Twitter), to marvel at Paul’s bread lion, and to cheer Ian’s ‘Charlotte Russe’. A national day of mourning was almost declared when Dorret’s mousse equivocated in its tin, then flooded down like the baker’s futile tears.

So why is this show so popular? Perhaps it’s because a certain pleasure can be gained from watching people’s dreams flour, or crumble into insignificance. Perhaps it’s because it’s strangely fascinating to watch Paul Hollywood slice a gateau with the precision of an 18th Century executioner. Perhaps it’s just because we’re unashamedly obsessed with cake, and are more than willing to dedicate an hour a week to watch the creation of this floury phenomenon. Whatever the reason, the finale is certain to be a hectic and heated affair, at the end of which, either Nadiya, Ian or Tamal will receive the cherry to put atop their cake.

Anyone who watches the show is bound to have picked a favourite already, but I have profiled the three finalists anyway.

TAMAL: Tamal is the titan of the Bake Off tent. Every week he’s mesmerised us with his astonishingly-delicious sounding pastries, pies and puddings. Will the trainee anaesthetist be a knock-out in the final?

NADIYA: Nadiya has graced our screens with her superb bread snake, exquisite-looking arctic roll, and remarkably flexible face which can go from ‘calm and collected’ to ‘in a state of mortal peril’ quicker than you can frost a shortbread centrepiece.

IAN: Ian won over our hearts early on with his delighted exclamation, “My rosemary is vindicated!”, which surely stands as one of the best things ever to be uttered on primetime television. Ian whisked through the first weeks but, like a cake, had a dip in the middle. He made a chocolate well complete with bucket in the semi-final, but have Ian’s chances of winning pailed?

Find out this Wednesday, 8pm on BBC1!

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