Paul Hollywood defends Bake Off co-stars after backlash

GBBO: Paul Hollywood reassures Syabira

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This year, Syabira was crowned Bake Off star 2022 after coming up against her fellow contestants Abdul and Sandro. However, this year’s series was faced with a lot of backlash after many viewers claimed hosts Noel Fielding and Matt Lucas were telling racist jokes during Mexican Week.

The episode saw 10 bakers serving up dishes that fit with the Mexican theme, however, left a sour taste in many of the viewers’ mouths.

Taking to their social media accounts, many claimed the episode was in “poor taste” and were “disappointed” by the gags made by the hosts.

Opening the show, the pair were wearing sombreros and serapes, before the contestants proceeded to create a pan dulce for The Signature, tacos for The Technical, and a tres leches cake for The Showstopper.

Viewers were left fuming as they accused the show of “cultural appropriation” and “perpetuating stereotypes”.

Paul has opened up on the backlash for the first time and told “I’d literally come back from Mexico about three weeks before we filmed the episode.

“I spent a month over there with Mexican chefs, working with tacos and enjoying the food in Tijuana and Mexico City and Oaxaca and Cancun.

“I was all over the place, and we set the challenges based on what I’d seen there. The challenges were very good, and everyone did a good job.

“There’s not a bad bone in any of the bodies of anyone connected with Bake Off that would want to upset Mexico. And certainly not me, because I love the country.”

He admitted that he was “gutted” when he found out about the backlash and added: “I mean, I was really upset about it.”

Paul’s co-star Dame Prue Leith also spoke out on the backlash, and said: “never goes out to be controversial” and tries to be “dead honest”.

She said: “It was quite unfortunate that quite a few people took offence, but we certainly didn’t mean it.

“As Paul says, the thing about Bake Off is that it absolutely represents inclusivity and diversity and tolerance and togetherness.

“I don’t want to sound sentimental, but the fact is that the vibe of Bake Off is entirely cooperative and encouraging. So the idea that we were set out to insult anybody is ridiculous.”

Paul is known for being the stern-faced judge on the series and for the harsh criticism he has given out over the years.

However, Syabira touched on how Paul was portrayed in the show and explained she was surprised at how pleasant and supportive he was to her.

She explained that before going on the show, she thought Paul was “really scary” but realised further into the show how “caring he was”.

“It’s the complete opposite of what he is portrayed as on TV so I’m really grateful to have met him and to have been judged by him. It’s been amazing!”

Touching on what she has planned for the future, Syabira that she was going back to her day job as a cardiovascular researcher.

She explained that she didn’t know what was going to happen with the media and the opportunities it was going to bring.

“Showbiz is very unpredictable so I’m curious about it.”

The Great British Bake Off is available to stream on All4.

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