Paul Hollywood gave out three handshakes in the first half of The Great British Bake Off this week.
Three handshakes. A big triple; thrice as nice; a hat-trick of handy grips. What happened to exclusivity? I remember when he wouldn’t even give out one for the entire duration of an episode. When did his handshakes become so common? Was he not taught against being so promiscuous with his hand? Even at the beginning of this series, we already had two handshakes in the first episode. Two! I know what you’re thinking, what kind of monster does that? Does he not know about the art of anticipation?
All of the bakers want a piece of Hollywood’s hand. It’s the Nobel Peace Prize of the baking world, that and securing a publishing contract for a series of cookbooks after the show is over. After this ep, Paul Hollywood told viewers to ‘stop whinging’ as he put up a picture of himself mid-shake on his Instagram. “If I feel the baker deserves a handshake they’ll get one”.
The handshake’s origin has been dated back to as early the 5th century, but as modern day becomes debatably less formal than ever before (think Causal Fridays, but everyday) will it not eventually die out? Is Hollywood’s hand really still special in the grand scheme of things?
Generally, the handshake comes in many shapes and sizes; strengths and grips. They happen during the nerve-wracking (job interviews), the bad (when your dad meets your new boyfriend), the awkward (meeting your Tinder date for the first time – I mean, who actually goes in for a handshake????) and then, in the Great British Bake Off tent. Arguably, the latter is the most cherished of them all. It’s even been known to reduce the keen contestants of years gone by to tears of joy. Steven, Yan and Stacey were the bakers to receive the holy trio of shakes on Tuesday’s episode, even if Stacey’s was slightly reluctant. They were all surprised, Steven even said, “when he put his hand out, I thought he was going to hit me”. (That’s more like the Paul we know and love – Mr Tough Cookie).
Noel Fielding gave a sly dig, saying, “Three handshakes. That’s a personal best for you”. In the Bake Off final back in 2015, Nadiya got the final handshake of the series, which she received with a glowing grin. That was special. That handshake meant something. The series ended on a high – final handshake for the eventual winner of the entire, sugary lot. But now? Apparently any old Steven, Yan or Stacey can be on the receiving end.
Since Bake Off began, Paul’s handshakes have come under scrutiny. People saying he’s giving out too many, too little, not worthy. The real question could be – does anyone care? People seem to moving on to a Fielding Fondle anyway.
Words by Eliza Frost