This past weekend, some members of the Triangle Sisters in Crime took part in a murder mystery game via Zoom called the Great British Bump Off. A take off on a play by the same name which premiered at the Hexagon in Reading, England last September, it was, like the play, a take-off on the Great English Baking Show. I am addicted to this show, which features two judges and a dozen bakers in a tent, where a group of amateur bakers compete against each other in a series of rounds, attempting to impress a group of judges with their baking skills.
The scene of the Great British Bump Off has to be the tent in a field in Welford Park, the existing house a private residence built on the site of a monastery in Newbury and belonging to the same family for 400 years.
Baking is done in a tent in a field adjacent to the house.
Description: Tension is high inside the big white tent because it’s time for this year’s bakers to face judgment and elimination. But wait! Stop those timers! Our esteemed judge, Shaw G. Bottom, has just been discovered dead in the judge’s tent. The bread round just turned into the dead round.
Populating the tent are a number of colorful characters, among them:
- Victoria Sponge – a baker from the Isle of Wight. Dressed in white with a slim red belt, Victoria is confident about her classic appeal.
- Mac O’Roon – a baker from Belfast. In his orange shirt, green trousers and with his golf bag to hand, Mac is a golfer who’s ready to play the long game.
- Sasha Torte – a baker from Cumbria. This handwriting expert is dressed in dark brown with a frothy white scarf. She always has a piece of chocolate nearby!
- Brandy Snap – a baker from Gloucestershire. In her jodhpurs and hacking jacket, Brandy knows how to hunt and how to win.
- Spice-Twice Bryce – a baker from Edinburgh. With his calculator, pen and paper always close to hand, this mathematician knows whose number is up.
- Whitey Bloomer – a baker from Devon. Dressed in his gardening clothes and wellies, Whitey knows the old ways are best.
I played Whitey Bloomer, part Luddite, part wolf (he is infatuated with Victoria Sponge). The game consists of three rounds of short presentations by each player, the first to introduce themselves and the other two to add information to their bios. In between, the bakers are asked questions by their fellow bakers, the questions designed to elicit facts to help the players figure out ‘who done it.’ The whole thing is moderated by a Chief Investigator.
I took copious notes, then winnowed down what I learned to motive, means and opportunity. We had a large number of players, so there was a lot of information, much of it not useful. In the end we are asked to name the murderer. I had two people at the top of my list, and the second of these was the murderer because I had missed a clue. Drat!
Since we were doing this by Zoom, most of us chose to dress as our characters from the neck up. The best I could do is a worn denim shirt and an old fisherman’s cap.
I would say it was great fun. It might have been better to have fewer characters to speed it up – it took over three hours – and to let non-characters sit in and guess the murderer, allowing unscripted questions at the end.
You can download this game for a modest price From Red Herring Games and it will accommodate from two to twenty players.