The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

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Collaboration: The Ultimate Recipe

Over the past ten series, The Great British Bake Off has become as much a national institution as the Queen, self-deprecation, and talking about the weather.

A decade on from its conception, the show retains its popular position, demonstrated by the 9.4 million people who watched the 2019 premiere.

Bake Off’s sustained appeal is no surprise. When much of our news is a combination of confusing, depressing, and downright vitriolic, the opportunity to spend an hour soaking in the warm innocence of the Bake Off tent is a welcome escape.

The source of this sentiment soon becomes clear to those watching the show. Though billed as a ‘baking competition’, there’s something unusual about the way bakers ‘compete’. What takes place in the tent is more a working alongside than a working against.

When bakers have a spare minute, they help other contestants out. When they’re unsure of how to proceed, they ask one another. When they struggle or are sent home, the overwhelming reaction of the others isn’t relief or smugness, but compassion.

Knowingly or not, the contestants are expressing something of their created nature. In Genesis 1:26, God says ‘let us make mankind in our image’. The three-in-one God makes us for relationship: to express our creativity in partnership with others. There is something significant not just in what we do, but in how we do it.

Perhaps we feel that warm innocence when Bake Off hits our screens because it puts us in touch with something of the reality for which we were created, when we were innocent and unashamed. A reality that is all too often lost beneath the division we encounter daily but which nonetheless craves expression.

Bake Off is a window into this reality, and a reminder of not only what we were made for, but how we might live this out now. There is real value in demonstrating a different culture: refusing division, prioritising collaboration, and choosing community.

In competitive workplaces and a divided society, Bake Off reminds us that God’s image in humanity – the image that gives infinite value even to our ‘competitors’ – enables us to live and tell a better story. But, when the tide of culture is all too often flowing in the opposite direction, we must have the awareness and boldness to tell it and to live it out.


Matt Jolley
Matt is the Research Assistant at LICC


Matt Jolley


  1. Excellent comment and well observed, I too am a fan off the bake off. I’ve now written “refusing division, prioritising collaboration, and choosing community” on my white board at work because my organisation needs that!

    By Colin  -  18 Oct 2019
  2. Like! We must have the boldness and awareness to call it out and live it out. The world needs more salt and light! Liking the Bake off parallel. Thank you. You echoed my own mulling of yesterday!

    By Jilli  -  18 Oct 2019
  3. Well done Matt, love bake off and love what you have written here. As salt and light we are called to represent Jesus and show his love and compassion to all those we encounter, whether our church environment, work colleagues or strangers on the streets. I love that the Trinity is the example of community living and sets the standard for us that we can aspire to be.

    By Karen Kircher  -  18 Oct 2019
  4. Only seen Bake Off once, last year’s final cos those I was with were fans, but great points. I’ve sometimes wondered how our working life & culture could be better if we did it far less competitively and far more collaboratively, from interview stage on…

    By Bruce Gulland  -  22 Oct 2019
  5. I’m one of the few people that have never watched Bake Off but I can see where you are coming from and liked this article.

    By Philip Hamilton  -  22 Oct 2019

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