We Interrupt This Program

Another Jolly Good Bakes Season for the Books 

November 17, 2023

After weeks of grueling technicals, ambitious showstoppers, and culinary innuendos, the fourteenth series of Jolly Good Bakes has come to an end, and a winner has been announced.

Twelve contestants began their journeys under the white marquee, nestled in the picturesque grounds of Kent’s Wimplethwaite Manor. Week one literally brought the heat as Brits sweltered in record-high temperatures, and our wacky-but-lovable presenters sniggered at the soggy bottoms of contestants and cakes alike. Faster than you can say laminated dough, Yorkshire policeman Thomas Dorking was sent home in tears over an equally weepy sponge.

Despite the clouds of locusts blackening the skies of Kent during week two, the show went on. As insects denuded the local flora and consumed the bunting on the baking tent, bakers grappled with a tricky technical bake, a pavlova. Kat Malik of Upton Snodsbury was sent home when judge Saul Holyrood objected to the arthropod’s wing baked into her patisserie. Fellow judge Merry Dinkum defended Malik’s choice, saying it “added a nice crunch.”

Broadcast quality plummeted in the third and fourth episodes as dust storms and wildfires obscured the pastoral scenery. Still, the remaining bakers handled the added difficulties with aplomb, turning out natty neapolitans, crispy croissants, and textbook treacle tarts. Dinkum felt the added grit and ash “gave the bakes a lovely texture.” Bakers Gemma Thatchwallow and Piotr Dzikowski were eliminated, and each left the tent looking around rather nervously at the hellscape.

An explosion rocked the marquee halfway through week five’s signature bake, wreaking havoc on the rise of contestants’ brioche dough. The presenters assured nervous bakers that ground zero was more than a county away in London, and therefore nothing to worry about. “Probably just the Russians,” Dinkum said soothingly as she sampled the finished loaves. “Lovely crumb, this.” Harriet Climping’s less-than-inspired babka earned her a one-way trip back to Brixton, although there was some debate about whether Brixton still existed. 

Week six took place against the backdrop of the smoking ruin that had once been Wimplethwaite Manor. Bakers were jumpy as they assembled towering croquembouches, but the presenters’ antics kept morale up and drowned out the gunfire and screams of the locals. Saul Holyrood found audience favorite Bruce Chen’s eclairs “joyless,” and despite Chen’s pleading, the graduate student was forcibly ejected from the tent into the dystopia.

A series of electromagnetic pulses knocked out power grids throughout the northern hemisphere, interrupting broadcasting and causing no small amount of consternation among faithful viewers of the show. So while our intrepid bakers presumably still labored over their challenges, five weeks passed before broadcasting could resume. By that time, only three contestants were left: Sameera Jayawardena, Ronald Nutter, and Esther Okoro.

The presenters seemed edgy as the three finalists labored over their bakes, running fingers around the large metal collars everyone in the tent was sporting. But while Nutter and Okoro succumbed to the pressure and to the repeated electrical shocks administered through their collars, Jayawadena’s gingerbread orrery was pronounced a triumph by the judges. Holyrood called it “a pastry paean to the Solar system, now firmly in the hands of the Kaazox’aa.” Merry Dinkum concurred: “A delicious celebration of our alien overlords, long may they reign.”

In a special broadcast following the finale, Kaazox’aa leaders assured viewers that programming would continue. “Jolly Good Bakes has always been an island of cozy sanity in a sea of existential angst,” Channel 4 executive Thaezot Grak told reporters. “It’s where humans go to forget about the daily horrors they face, and we’ve found it as or more effective than opiods. For this reason, we’re putting out a Christmas special, so you have that to look forward to in between your fourteen-hour shifts in the uranium mines.”


Vok’qoi Chpath is a freelance writer from Tau Ceti e. 

Taryn Frazier lives and writes in the Philly metro area. Her short fiction has appeared in places like Apex Magazine, Mysterion, and Daily Science Fiction. Find out more at tarynfrazier.com or connect on Instagram (@tarynrose.writes) and Twitter (@TarynRoseWriter).
We Interrupt This Program is one of the winners of the Apparition Literary Magazine May Flash Fiction Challenge. You can read the other winning story here

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