For many years I judged at dog obedience competitions. This involved designing the courses the handlers and their dogs had to complete. I discovered that there were two ways of approaching this task. One was to design a course that created the greatest opportunities for the teams to make mistakes, the other was to design a course that did not deliberately trip the competitors up but let them show off their skill. It is far easier to judge the former which is why, I am sure, so many judges adopted this method. However, I found it far more satisfying to judge the teams on what they did well rather than on what they did badly.
This year’s Great British Bake Off was a prime example of the mistake obsessed style of competition. Basically, it was cruel and lazy in its construction and this led to poor decisions and surprise results that did not accurately reflect the individual skills of the contestants. The series-long fiasco ended with the most disappointing and excruciatingly painful to watch final in the programme’s history.