Beard’s Bake Off exit ‘through illness not great pudding row’

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Great British Bake Off contestant Diana Beard has left the show after she “fell ill” with BBC bosses maintaining her exit is unrelated to the controversy that saw some viewers blame her for the departure of fellow baker Iain Watters.

Ms Beard complained yesterday the show had been edited to make it look as though she deliberately sabotaged her rival’s chances by taking the Baked Alaska dish – ice-cream baked inside meringue – out of the freezer on purpose so it would melt.

The 69-year-old from Shropshire – the show’s oldest ever 
contestant – was criticised on social media with some viewers branding her “evil” after Mr 
Watters was forced to dump his dessert in a bin following his failed bid to create the Baked Alaska.

A BBC statement released yesterday said: “Diana will not appear in the rest of the series as she fell ill ahead of filming episode five earlier this year.”

Ms Beard claimed she had been “stitched up” after Mr Watters stormed off the show when his pudding melted. When judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood asked to see his creation, he simply held up the bin which he had dumped the dessert in.

Mr Watters went online to defend Ms Beard, saying: “Guys, no hard feelings now. Diana is a top lady and all us tent bakers are great pals. Can’t wait to tune into the rest of the series.”

He added: “I have seen all the controversy and I don’t hold Diana responsible in any way. There are no grudges, we are still friends and keep in contact regularly.”

Hundreds took to social media after Mr Watters was dismissed from the show for failing to present a dessert, with many declaring the decision was unfair.

But Ms Beard, who said the Baked Alaska was out of the freezer for only 40 seconds, said: “I’m disappointed with the way it’s been portrayed and so is Iain. Iain has been my biggest ally.”

It is not the first time the BBC show has been rocked by claims of baking espionage. Last year one contestant, Howard Middleton, appeared to become the victim of an apparent custard theft in the kitchen.