Thank God Allison Hammond Is Hosting ‘Great British Baking Show’

This is a preview of our pop culture newsletter The Daily Beast’s Obsessed, written by editor Kevin Fallon. To receive the full newsletter in your inbox each week, sign up for it here.

This week:

The World Is Good Again

There are few things in the world that are more important to me than The Great British Baking Show. There are things that people can do to feel whole and lifted: commune with family, chosen or found; find religion; exercise, as awful as that can be. Or they can watch charming Londoners laugh while explaining how they make the perfect puff pastry, and tear up when one of their tasters shakes their hand in response.

The earnestness of The Great British Baking Show is its biggest selling point, and the thing that’s been the standard across its 14 seasons, since it launched in 2010. That’s why fans were so perturbed during the recent seasons hosted by Noel Fielding and Matt Lucas, with the latter bringing a peculiarly unpleasant vibe to the beloved show—like if a baker had replaced the sugar in a recipe with salt.

After years of backlash, Lucas left the series and was replaced this season by Allison Hammond. It’s like seeing the sun poke through a week of storm clouds. She is saving the show.

Hammond is a British TV personality who first gained fame by competing in Big Brother, and then became a popular TV presenter. She’s a perfect fit for Great British Baking Show, which works best when its hosts balance a little bit of sarcastic whimsy with a genuine warmth—to the point where making fun is actually fun, not cruel or mean-spirited. After several seasons with Lucas poisoning that vibe, Hammond’s presence is a salve. It’s the TV equivalent of “nature is healing.”

She is such a luminous presence that it took only minutes of the premiere episode for me to be so smitten, I ruled that I would die for her. Not since Sue and Mel has the baking tent been graced with a host that so perfectly encapsulates the vibe of the show.

He Has a Point

I did not expect the comedy moment of the year to be in the Netflix documentary series about David Beckham. Yet I have watched a viral clip from Beckham roughly 800 times this week, and I laugh harder each time I press play.

The moment in question occurs when Beckham’s famous wife, Victoria (aka Posh Spice), is being interviewed about her family history. She starts very earnestly talking about her working-class upbringing, at which point a door opens, interrupting her monologue. David pops his head in and squashes the fiction. He tells her to explain which kind of car her dad used to drive her to school in, proof that she was never working-class. She scoffs. He presses. Finally, she admits it: a Rolls Royce.

Satisfied, he pops back out of the door frame as quickly as he popped in. I hope that this wasn’t a source of marital strife for the Beckhams, who seem like a genuinely great couple—especially if they’re able to tease each other and hold each other to account in this way. Regardless, the moment was very funny.

Watch it here.

A Truly Great Celebrity

Ellen Burstyn is in the terrible new Exorcist sequel, which should seem denigrating to her career and the original film’s hallowed legacy. After so many years and prior sequels, why would she agree to appear in one now?

In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, she gives her amazing reason why—and it should make you respect her even more.

This Is Cinema

My apologies—no, my condolences—to anyone who thinks that the Real Housewives franchise isn’t great entertainment. Because it’s your loss for not being able to enjoy the new trailer for The Real Housewives of Miami, which is quite possibly the greatest three minutes of footage that has ever been assembled for our entertainment.

Watch it here.

What to watch this week:

Our Flag Means Death: This is maybe the funniest show on TV right now. (Now on Max)

When Evil Lurks: The year’s first great Halloween-season thriller. (Now in theaters)

Fair Play: This was the top acquisition at Sundance, and it really is that good. (Now on Netflix)

What to skip this week:

Loki: Another in the long run of Marvel bombs. (Now on Disney+)

The Exorcist: Believer: So bad, you’ll rotate your head 360 degrees and projectile vomit. (Now in theaters)

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