What could be more cockle-warming during a cold snap than a cup of tea, a slice of cake and a bonus visit to the Bake Off tent? Even if The Great Celebrity Bake Off for Stand Up to Cancer (Channel 4) did labour under the least wieldy programme title since… well, last week’s American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace, on BBC Two.The first of five charity specials found comedians Harry Hill and Roisin Conaty, Spandau Ballet’s Martin Kemp and veteran broadcaster Bill Turnbull braving the fabled marquee to put their baking skills to the test. “A yurt of luminaries,” co-host Sandi Toksvig called it.
Hill stole the show so completely, someone should call the comedy police. Blessed with funny bones and not a little baking ability, his deadpan asides and sly looks to camera had me in stitches from start to finish. Or from signature bake to showstopper challenge.His Bald Lucky Cupcakes were designed to resemble his own hairless head, with handwritten IOUs hidden inside as prizes. These included “dinner for two with Carol Vorderman” and “a copy of Mary Berry’s birth certificate, printed on the original vellum”. He won the technical round with accomplished crêpes suzette. When Toksvig admired his prowess, Hill admitted: “I’m Prue Leith’s son.” For his climactic 3D biscuit scene that was supposed to represent the best day of the contestants’ lives, he built a surreal sculpture of a beach holiday that he claimed to have been on with the Duchess of Cornwall. He and Camilla later fell out over Duty Free allowances, Hill sighed, but had been joined on their idyllic desert island by “a wise turtle and a horse on a surfboard”. I do hope Her Royal Highness was watching from a Clarence House chaise longue, amused but not a little baffled.