11 shocking Great British Bake Off controversies – from leaked winner to squirrel drama, fridge row & infamous Bin-gate

11 shocking Great British Bake Off controversies – from leaked winner to squirrel drama, fridge row & infamous Bin-gate

THE Great British Bake Off is an institution, with each series delivering its share of TV gold.

Fans are eagerly anticipating its return to Channel 4 on September 13, where 12 brand new bakers will compete in the famous tent.

Paul, Pure, Matt and Noel will return to the show this season
Paul, Pure, Matt and Noel will return to the show this seasonCredit: Channel 4

Matt Lucas and Noel Fielding are back as presenters, alongside judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith.

But the heartwarming show has not escaped controversy during its 12 year stint on our screens.

From accusations of favouritism to contestants stealing each others’ ingredients, at times it’s all boiled over in the tent.

Ahead of its comeback, we look back at some of the most eyebrow-raising moments in Bake Off history – pass the biscuits.

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Favouritism row

A favouritism row erupted on the show’s fourth series in 2013, when fans became convinced Paul Hollywood was giving preferential treatment to 21-year-old Ruby Tandoh, who came second that year.

It was alleged that she was being favoured because of her looks – a claim Paul denied.

The judge didn’t help himself though when he added that he thought another contestant was better looking.

Some viewers accused Paul Hollywood of giving Ruby Tandoh preferential treatment
Some viewers accused Paul Hollywood of giving Ruby Tandoh preferential treatmentCredit: BBC

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He told the Radio Times: “Personally I think Kimberley’s far prettier. With all the love in the world, Ruby’s not my type.”

Ruby came out as gay in 2015 and slammed the suggestion she was trying to flirt with the judge to get ahead.

She wrote: “For those who thought I fancied Paul Hollywood or that I’d ever bang him to get ahead – JOKE’S ON YOU, YOU MASSIVE S****ING MISOGYNISTS.”

Pinching ingredients

Deborah Manger came clean about using Howard Middleton's custard
Deborah Manger came clean about using Howard Middleton’s custardCredit: BBC

Series four gave us another shady moment when Deborah Manger accidentally nicked Howard Middleton‘s custard during a challenge.

When she realised what she’d done, Deborah immediately confessed to former presenter Sue Perkins – while Howard was praised by viewers for how calmly he took the news.

He ended up having to use Deborah’s custard, as it was way too late to make another one.

Luckily he survived another week – but Deborah was booted off the show.

Bin-gate

Viewers were left fuming after Diana Beard appeared to sabotage Iain Watters
Viewers were left fuming after Diana Beard appeared to sabotage Iain WattersCredit: BBC

In 2014 the show hit the headlines when Iain Watters’ Baked Alaska was taken out of the freezer by fellow contestant Diana Beard and left to melt on the side.

Upon discovering it had turned to “soup”, Iain furiously chucked his dessert in the bin – a move dubbed ‘Bin-gate’ by viewers.

When time came for the bakers to present their creations, poor Iain showed the bemused judges the treat languishing in the bin, and was sent home.

The incident sparked outrage, with some angry fans calling for Diana to be axed from the show and even arrested.

Diana had to withdraw from the show a week later after a freak accident left her with no sense of taste or smell, and has since insisted her conscience is clear.

One online prankster couldn’t let it go, and changed Diana’s job description on the series five Wikipedia page to ‘WI Judge/ Ice cream melting supervillain’.

Iain had the last laugh in 2016 when he chose a Baked Alaska as his wedding cake.

Judge leaks winner

Prue Leith's tweet revealed the winner of the show 12 hours before it was due to air
Prue Leith’s tweet revealed the winner of the show 12 hours before it was due to airCredit: Twitter

In 2017, Dame Prue Leith had fans fuming when she leaked the winner – 12 hours before it was due to air.

She tweeted: “No one told me judging a #GBBO final would be so emotional. I wanted them all to win. Bravo Sophie.” 

Although she swiftly deleted the tweet, it had already been picked up by several fans and began doing the rounds on social media.

She later admitted the mistake was due to the fact that she was in Bhutan and thought the show had already aired in the UK.

Paul’s BBC ‘betrayal’

Paul was slammed for not leaving the show with his co-stars when it moved to Channel 4
Paul was slammed for not leaving the show with his co-stars when it moved to Channel 4Credit: Handout

From its inception to 2016, the show aired on the BBC. It moved to Channel 4 after Love Productions failed to agree a new contract with the state broadcaster.

To show their loyalty, almost all of the show’s stars decided to quit -with the exception of Paul.

This enraged fans who labelled him a betrayer – and it was later reported that his salary had been boosted from £100,000 to £400,000.

He responded to the criticism by saying: “I love doing my job, I really do, and if anyone can put their hand on their heart and say you would actually leave your job if someone was going to pay you a little bit more money to move on and do the same job in the same tent…”

Horror injury

John Whaite suffered a nasty injury on Bake Off
John Whaite suffered a nasty injury on Bake OffCredit: BBC

Who can forget when John Whaite managed to slice open his finger during episode six on the third series in 2012?

The former Strictly contestant sustained the gruesome wound while using a food processor and had to leave the tent for medical attention.

Viewers were shocked that the BBC chose to air the injury after it showed his bloodied hand.

After the incident, the judges came to the decision not to eliminate anyone that week as it would be unfair.

Fix claims

Suspicions were raised when 90% of bets were placed on Frances Quinn
Suspicions were raised when 90% of bets were placed on Frances QuinnCredit: BBC

Every year some fans enjoy a flutter by betting on the contestant they think will win the show.

This, however, has sparked a number of scandals over the years.

In 2013, suspicions were raised when 90 per cent of all bets for the winner were placed on Frances Quinn, who ended up victorious.

Bookies became concerned that the winner had been leaked and suspended all bets on the show.

The same scenario occurred in 2015 when one particular contestant attracted the majority of the bets placed after just one episode, sparking allegations of “insider trading” from show workers.

Store bought fondant

Enwezor Nzegwu's revelation that he used store bought fondant didn't go down well with viewers
Enwezor Nzegwu’s revelation that he used store bought fondant didn’t go down well with viewersCredit: BBC

In series five, North London native Enwezor horrified viewers when he admitted to using store bought fondant on his showstopper.

Despite giving it his all for his biscuit creation – in the shape of a Space Adventure on the moon – the judges couldn’t look past his indiscretion.

He was eliminated from the competition that week.

Squirrel drama

Fans were not happy that the show's mascot had been replaced
Fans were not happy that the show’s mascot had been replacedCredit: BBC

The squirrel who featured in the show’s opening credits was a huge hit with fans.

Famed for his, ahem, ‘large nuts’, the well-endowed creature, dubbed Sammy, became an unofficial Bake Off mascot.

But he disappeared in 2016 – replaced by a bog standard pheasant.

Viewers immediately called for the squirrel’s return, but he was never seen again. RIP Sammy.

Fridge row

Noel Fielding was slammed for hiding in the fridge
Noel Fielding was slammed for hiding in the fridgeCredit: Channel 4

Noel Fielding became one of the show’s newest additions when it made the move to Channel 4.

His goofy antics, however, quickly landed him in trouble with fans.

In one episode, co-star Sandi Toksvig opened the fridge to find the Mighty Boosh star hiding inside.

The incident sparked 55 Ofcom complaints, with viewers complaining his actions could be harmful to children (or arguably Prime Ministers) who chose to copy him.

Jaffa gaffe

Paul horrified Mary when he dunked his Jaffa Cake in his tea
Paul horrified Mary when he dunked his Jaffa Cake in his teaCredit: BBC

Mary Berry couldn’t contain her disgust when northerner Paul dunked a Jaffa Cake in his tea during series seven.

Paul inadvertently opened up the age-old debate over whether the treat is actually a cake or a biscuit.

Mary couldn’t help but make a comment and poke fun at him, joking: “We don’t do that in the south!”

It was soon trending in the UK under the hashtag #jaffagate.

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For anyone interested, the HMRC concluded that the Jaffa Cake is indeed a cake and not a biscuit, after rigorous testing.

Cakes go hard when they stale, and biscuits go soft. When put to the test, the Jaffa Cake turned solid.

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Kevin Adjei-Darko

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