It’s back to basics for the competition show after fan backlash
Bakers, start your mixers!
The Great British Baking Show will kick off its 14th season later this month with some changes – no more nationality-themed weeks, but instead there will be more traditional confections like cakes, cookies and breads.
The changes come after fans criticized the show for having culturally insensitive theme weeks and challenges.
Last season, during what the show called "Mexican Week," bakers were tasked with making pan dulce (sweet bread), steak tacos and a tres leches cake. But across social media, audiences are claiming the episode is filled with offensive stereotypes. As PEOPLE reported, hosts Noel Fielding and Matt Lucas opened the show wearing sombreros and serapes, using maracas and speaking in fake Mexican accents. "I don't feel like we should make Mexico jokes. People will get upset," one viewer wrote. "Throughout the episode contestants also mispronounced words like guacamole and pico de gallo.
In the episode that sparked the wave of criticism, Fielding said, "I don't feel like we should make Mexico jokes. People will get upset." Lucas responded, "What? No Mexico jokes at all? Not even Juan?"
In season prior, the show included "Japan Week" and "German Week."
In an interview published today in The Guardian, the show’s executive producer, Kieran Smith, addressed the criticism and the changes they’ve made.
“I hold my hands up to the cooking complaint and the theme weeks,” Smith said in the story. “We didn’t want to offend anyone but the world has changed and the joke fell flat. We’re not doing any national themes this year.”
“We’re going very traditional. We’re doing all the regular weeks: cakes, biscuits, bread, patisserie, chocolate, plus party cakes is a new theme. No spoilers, but it features challenges I think viewers will love,” Smith said.
— British Bake Off (@BritishBakeOff) October 4, 2022
Paul Hollywood, one of the judges on the show, said in the story that they chose this year’s challenges very carefully “to be approachable.”
“In a way, we’ve returned to the philosophy of the first three series. There are some beautiful classic ones and they’ve been a big success,” Hollywood said.
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The Great British Baking Show long-time judge, Prue Leith, defended the show in a recent interview with The New Yorker, revealing that the judges set the baking challenges for the theme each week. "There would have been absolutely no intention to offend," she said. "That's not the spirit of the show."
Another change for the show – a new co-host, British TV personality, Alison Hammond. Earlier this year, it was announced that television personality Hammond would replace Lucas, who exited the show in December 2022. She will join co-host Noel Fielding.
No doubt that among those watching the new season are some of the show’s biggest and most famous celeb viewers, including Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Anna Kendrick, Amy Schumer and David Schwimmer, who calls himself a “massive fan of the show.”
And despite the backlash the baking competition show has received, The View co-host, Ana Navarro said on Twitter (now X) that she wasn't the least bit offended. "I ❤️ @BritishBakeOff. @PaulHollywood is my celebrity crush. Frankly, I was not offended by the way they depicted Mexicans," she wrote. "Thought it was corny. But, I was offended by the crimes they committed against tacos & trés leches. ¡Que horror!"
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