As The Great British Bake Off gears up for its 14th season, new host Alison Hammond isn't the only big change coming to the series. The hit baking competition is also nixing its nationality-themed challenge weeks over racism accusations.
GBBO raised serious eyebrows last year after hosts Noel Fielding and Matt Lucas opened the show's "Mexican Week" wearing sombreros and serapes, holding maracas, and using fake Mexican accents. Oh, and the cherry on the top? The pair made a few foot-in-mouth jokes. "I don't feel like we should make Mexico jokes. People will get upset," Fielding said. Lucas responded, "What? No Mexico jokes at all? Not even Juan?"Cringe.
While the controversy caused online drama at the time, the show's executive producer Kieran Smith is now addressing it outright. "I hold my hands up to the cooking complaint and the theme weeks," he told The Guardian. "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."
Smith added that GBBO was going "very traditional" with regular themes, including cakes, biscuits, bread, patisserie, chocolate, and party cakes. "No spoilers, but it features challenges I think viewers will love," he added.
Paul Hollywood chimed in on the subject, telling the outlet that they chose this year's themes "to be approachable."
"In a way, we've returned to the philosophy of the first three series," he said. "There are some beautiful classic ones and they've been a big success."
Amidst the controversy surrounding The Great British Bake Off's international challenges (in years past, they also did Japan Week and German Week), longtime judge Prue Leith has defended the long-running show.
"There would have been absolutely no intention to offend," she told The New Yorker last year, adding, "That's not the spirit of the show."
The Great British Bake Off is set to return for its 14th consecutive season on September 12 in the UK, with Alison Hammond joining as an all-new host.
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