The popular U.K. cooking show, "The Great British Bake Off," is making changes to its format for its upcoming 14th season after facing accusations of racism. The show had previously featured nationality-themed episodes where amateur bakers would compete to create dishes inspired by different countries. However, these episodes received criticism for being culturally insensitive and promoting stereotypes.
One particular episode during the show's “Mexican Week” last year sparked controversy. Co-hosts Noel Fielding and Matt Lucas were accused of offensive behavior when they donned sombreros, shook maracas, and attempted Latin-American accents. They also made jokes that offended some viewers. The scene drew backlash on social media, with viewers calling it a “mistake” and accusing the show of being racist and tacky.
In response to the criticism, the show's executive producer, Kieran Smith, acknowledged the complaints and admitted that the jokes fell flat. He stated that the show did not intend to offend anyone but recognized that the world has changed. As a result, the upcoming season will not feature any nationality-themed episodes. Instead, the show will return to a more “traditional” format, focusing on themes like Cakes, Biscuits, Bread, Patisserie, Chocolate, and introducing a new Party Cakes theme.
The decision to drop the nationality-themed weeks comes after fans expressed their concerns about cultural insensitivity. The show received criticism for its “Japan Week” in 2020 and “German Week” in 2021 but faced a greater backlash during “Mexican Week” in 2022. Some viewers felt that the dishes created by the contestants were not authentic enough and that the show was deviating from its baking premise to focus more on cooking.
Despite the controversy, "The Great British Bake Off" is known for its inclusivity. The upcoming season will feature a diverse mix of 12 amateur contestants, including the show's first deaf participant. It will also mark the first time the show has had a person of color presenter, Alison Hammond.
The changes to the show's format are aimed at addressing the concerns raised by viewers and creating a more inclusive and enjoyable experience for all. The producers hope that by returning to a traditional format and focusing on approachable challenges, they can regain the trust and support of their audience.