The Great British Bake Off: The Final (Channel 4) ***

IT had been a dramatic day for news. For all those doing a Brenda from Bristol and despairing at the forthcoming festive General Election (surely an oxymoron?), there was a place of refuge last night on Channel 4.

A dear place where nice people made scrummy cakes for the simple pleasure of doing so, where no one was called a traitor, and where the losers were not expected to spend the next three years trying to overturn the result.

The tenth series started off ten weeks ago with a baker’s dozen of contestants. Now just three remained: Alice, the stressy one; Steph, the lacking in confidence one; and David, who was wearing trousers far too nice to wipe floury hands on.

“I’m definitely the underdog,” declared David, so immediately he was the one to watch.

Steph had her own gameplan going on. "Come on baking fairies," she pleaded. "Jump on my shoulders."

The signature challenge was to make the ultimate chocolate cake. “Not just any chocolate cake,” said judge Prue Leith, on duty as ever with Paul Hollywood. What would that be, then? A singing and dancing chocolate cake? A world peace-bringing chocolate cake?

In David’s case, “ultimate” meant sloshing in as much booze as possible without setting the hallowed tent on fire.

As we watched the three contestants working away frantically, their heads bowed over mixing bowls, one wondered, not for the first time, why no one had to wear a hairnet in Bake Off. Perhaps, being not really of this cruel world, the programme is exempt from ‘elf and safety regulations.

Since this was the final, we got to see short videos of the contestants’ nearest and dearest paying tribute to their loved ones. Steph’s mum had had to do a lot of washing up, but didn’t mind a bit; Alice had been baking since she was knee high to a plate warmer; ditto David. Wise move. Contestants have reached a standard which is to all intents and purposes professional. You won’t go far on Bake Off these days by merely being able to knock up a simple apple crumble.

The technical challenge was to make twice-baked Stilton souffles with fancy crackers. Alas, Steph’s creations were not even once baked, which brought on the first but not the last of the evening’s tears. She had put cold water in her bain-marie when, as any fool with access to Google knows, it should have been hot.

Alice was upset as well. Her parents had been at a wedding in Dublin and it looked like they would not be able to get a flight back in time for the final. Hardly the stuff of 24 Hours in A&E or Panorama, but then this series has been lacking in heart-stopping moments.

Personality-wise, the contestants have been more vanilla essence than cherry, maple, gin or some other exotic flavour. Not their fault; most of them were just very young. Anyway, the sweetness on show, in the contestants as much as the baked goods, served as a moreish counterpoint to what was going on in the outside world. In a final show of harmony, the three finalists even entered the Bake Off tent hand in hand.

At last, it was time for the showstopper round in which the bakers had to make picnic baskets stuffed with items that looked like other things. So fig rolls were sausage rolls, cakes were bananas, et cetera. "Illusion cakes" they were called. Whatever lights your oven.

Suddenly, word came through: Alice's parents were on the plane! Meanwhile, Steph's macarons were not going well. Such is the giddy whirl of life, on and off Bake Off.

David, cool as Steph’s bain-marie, had triumphed. The 36-year-old international health adviser had beaten Alice the geography teacher and Steph the shop assistant. Eggs had been broken, hearts too, and milk and tears spilled, but it had all turned out nice in the end.

Now about this General Election ...