Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Great British Bake Off: BBC must say sorry to Belfast baker Iain Watters over Baked Alaska 'sabotage'

The chain of events which ultimately led to the Belfast-born baker Iain Watters walking away from the competition
Diana Bird removes Iain's pudding from the freezer
The chain of events which ultimately led to the Belfast-born baker Iain Watters walking away from the competition

Never mind working up a storm in the kitchen - he was at the centre of one and we want an apology.

All it took was 40 seconds of "injustice" to spark a national Twitter campaign for the bearded Belfast baker Iain Watters under the hashtag 'Justice for Iain'.

The normally sedate world of the Great British Bake Off was embroiled in controversy on Wednesday when fellow contestant Diana Beard was accused of sabotaging Watters' dessert.

Beard has been slated on social media after she removed Iain's ice-cream from the freezer as contestants battled to perfect Baked Alaskas in 25 degree heat – prompting a public outcry that this amounted to sabotage and contributed to his exit.

Watters was Northern Ireland's first ever contestant on the show and he made his dramatic departure when he was dismissed for not presenting a dessert after a veritable meltdown. The 31-year-old Belfast man stormed out of the tent after his dessert turned out a mess.

As the contestants battled to keep their ice-cream cold, Watters asked, "Where's my ice-cream?" – he then found it on a worktop melting in the heat.

Seeing no way of salvaging it, he threw it in the bin and stormed out of the tent, earning the ill-tempered episode the predictable tag 'Bingate' after Watters presented his bin to the judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood.

The Belfast Telegraph started a petition yesterday in a bid to get an apology for Watters.

And we're calling on readers to sign the petition to help get justice for Iain.

Among the tweets calling for just desserts was one user who said: "I'm off to Asda's to take all the ice-cream out of the freezer then I'll blame it on them. still angry #justiceforiain".

Another viewer said: "I didn't sleep well at all last night because I was so upset about the great British bake off #justiceforiain".

Such was the level of outrage, Hollywood took to Twitter to defend the judges' decision.

He said: "At the end of the day Mary & I need something to judge, it's not about melted ice cream but about what's presented to us... #bingate."

Host Sue Perkins also weighed in tweeting: "Iain's Alaska was out of the freezer for 40 secs. That's it. No sabotage. 40 secs of normal temp would NOT be enough to reduce it to liquid."

The BBC said Iain was dismissed "because he didn't present Mary and Paul with anything to judge in the showstopper challenge and both judges were very clear about the reasoning behind the decision".

"Due to the extreme temperature in the tent that day, many of the bakers struggled to get their ice-cream to set as seen in the episode," a spokesman said.

"Diana removing Iain's ice cream from the freezer for less than a minute was in no way responsible for Iain's departure."

The BBC confirmed that Diana does not appear in the rest of the series as she "fell ill ahead of filming episode 5 earlier this year" and it is in no way linked to Iain's exit.

WHO IS DIANA BEARD?

Diana (69, above left) is the programme's oldest baker so far. The daughter of a dairy farmer, she grew up on a farm in Shropshire on the Welsh borders where she joined the Women's Institute at the age of just 13. She became a Women's Institute judge at only 20 years old. Tending to her garden is her main hobby and making her daughter's wedding cake was her proudest baking moment. To sign the Belfast Telegraph petition, visit the Belfast Telegraph website and search 'petition'.

'I don't hold a grudge... but I'll never make a baked Alaska again!' 

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