The next season of The Great British Bake Off will scrap its nationality challenge weeks after rounds were criticized for being culturally insensitive.
The hit show will return to a more traditional format for its 13th season, which airs next week – while indulging in fan complaints that the show has casually tapped into racial stereotypes in years past.
“We didn’t mean to offend anyone, but the world has changed and the joke fell flat,” said executive producer Kieran Smith admitted to The Guardian.
“We’re not doing national issues this year.”
GBBO – known as Collection 10 on Netflix and titled The Great British Baking Show in the US due to copyright issues with Pillsbury – had featured a country-specific week per season for the past three years.
Although there was criticism after 2020’s Japan Week and 2021’s German Week, fans rebelled against last year’s Mexican Week.
Hosts Noel Fielding and Matt Lucas – both white Brits – were criticized for wearing sombreros and maracas and for mispronouncing Spanish words.
In the episodes, contestants made tacos, in what some viewers described as carving up the famous dish, while others complained that the show strayed from its baking premise toward cooking.
To kill two birds with one stone, according to Smith, the creators of GBBO will replace the culturally insensitive nationalities week with a party cakes challenge.
The 13th season also features the classic weeks: cakes, biscuits, bread, patisserie and chocolate.
“We chose this year’s challenges very carefully to be accessible,” said celebrity chef and GBBO judge Paul Hollywood.
“In a way, we’ve gone back to the philosophy of the first three series. There are some beautiful classics and they were a great success.”
Immediately after criticizing Nationalities Week, Hollywood said it based the challenges on what it saw on a recent trip to Mexico and not on hackneyed stereotypes.
Fellow judge Dame Prue Leith responded to the backlash, saying, “The notion that we wanted to offend anyone is ridiculous.”
In another twist, the show announced in December that Lucas would be stepping down from hosting after three seasons of the show.
The comedian, who appeared on GBBO in the only three years that the nationwide challenges were shown, planned his departure with scheduling conflicts.