IT is the cookery programme that has captured the imagination of the nation – and it all comes to fruition tonight.
Three amateur bakers will fight it out in the final of BBC programme The Great British Bake Off.
Over the last ten weeks, 12 bakers have been whittled down to three – Irish-born company director Brendan Lynch, James Morton, 21, the youngest, who is studying medicine in Scotland, and 23-year-old law student John Whaite.
Morton could be considered the favourite, being named top baker on three occasions, but all three will have to impress the judges, Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood.
And last night top Hampshire chefs gave the show their seal of approval, saying it is inspiring a new generation into the kitchen.
James Golding, head chef at The Pig in The Forest, in Brockenhurst, said so he hoped that the programme would inspire young people, as his grandmother had inspired him, to take up the career.
He said: “A lot of the stuff we have seen on The Great British Bake Off is stuff that could be reminiscent of an age when a lot of people did home baking.”
Mr Golding, who trained at The Savoy in London, said he hoped it would also give people a fresh appreciation of good quality food.
“It lets people see how much effort does go into making these cakes or tarts so when people come out to eat they have a bit more understanding,”
He added he thought the programme had inspired a revived interest in British food.
Luke Holder, head chef at the Lime Wood Hotel, in Lyndhurst, agreed.
“It has wider implications than just a television programme,” said the chef, who has previously worked at a Michelin-starred London restaurant.
“It’s bringing forward British traditions – we’re great bakers.”
The programme airs tonight at 8pm on BBC2.