From bin-gate to custard swaps: The six biggest controversies to hit the Great British Bake Off


The Great British Bake Off has seen its share of controversies over the past six years, with bakers feeling the pressure in the tent.

Here are six scandalous moments from previous series:

1. The infamous "bin-cident"

In the disaster also known as "Baked Alaska-gate" and "bin-gate", a Baked Alaska ended up in the dustbin and a contestant made his exit from the competition.

Iain Watters was horrified when he discovered that his frozen dessert had been removed from the freezer by fellow contestant Diana Beard.

Iain Watters, before things went wrong (BBC)
Iain Watters, before things went wrong (BBC)

Like the Baked Alaska, which sat dripping on a kitchen counter in a mess of meringue and chocolate, Iain went into meltdown. He dumped his creation in the bin and stormed out of the Bake Off tent.

Viewers were enraged when Diana claimed it was in her space and protested: "He's got his own freezer, hasn't he?"

At the end of the disastrous challenge, Iain had to physically present the bin to judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry as his submission. He was not taken through to the next round.

The incident sparked more than 500 complaints to the BBC and a hashtag, #JusticeForIain. Diana subsequently left the show due to illness.

2. The custard theft of 2013

The bakers were making trifle when Howard Middleton was shocked to discover his custard had gone missing from the fridge.

Unfortunately, fellow baker Deborah Manger had accidentally used his custard in her own trifle. Unlike the bin-cident culprit, she was very upset and apologetic about her mistake.

Deborah gave Howard her custard to use instead - but that left the judges with a problem: how to determine which was the best?

Ultimately, Paul and Mary decided to try the custards separately, and Deborah was the one to exit the competition.

3. The salt and sugar mix-up

John Whaite
John Whaite (ITV)

John Whaite experienced every baker's nightmare in series three, when he accidentally used salt in his rum babas instead of sugar.

Paul actually spat out the over-salted creation, warning fellow judge Mary not to even try it. Luckily, John scraped through to the next week and went on to win 2010´s competition.

4. Accusations of professional training

Ian Cumming
Ian Cumming (Mark Bourdillon/BBC)

Just as Strictly Come Dancing's celebrities are sometimes taken to task for having previous dance training, some Bake Off contestants have hit the headlines for not being total amateurs.

Marie Campbell was criticised for having brief "professional training" at Parisian cookery school Ecole Escoffier many years beforehand, while Ian Cummings was accused of getting secret coaching from the head of catering at Trinity College Cambridge.

Neither baker breached the rules.

5. Squirrel nuts

Columnist Caitlin Moran was the first to notice a shot of a squirrel with exceptionally large testicles, which was included in series two.

"I've just seen a preview tape of tomorrow's Great British Bake Off," she tweeted. "And 41 minutes in, there's a shot of a squirrel with ENORMOUS testicles."

Word spread, and soon the squirrel became the star of the episode and a viral sensation.

6. Accusations of flirting

Ruby Tandoh received criticism from viewers in 2013 for supposedly flirting with Paul, winning his heart with her good looks and stress-induced tears.

She later came out as gay and called out Bake Off fans who had suggested she fancied the judge or would have sex with him to get ahead.

"The jokes on you, you massive s******* misogynists," she tweeted.