TV baking contestant Diana Beard says her ousted competitor Iain Watters does not blame her following his dramatic exit from the show.
A storm erupted after Wednesday night’s episode of BBC hit The Great British Bake Off – centring on Diana, who grew up in Hanmer but now lives just over the Shropshire border in Whitchurch.
An incident in the episode’s final bake, where competitors were tasked with making a baked Alaska, saw fan favourite Iain Watters bin his creation after it was taken out of the freezer by another baker.
He was subsequently voted off the show.
Confusion reigned over who was actually responsible for the incident, but the majority of the show’s fans seemed to place the blame squarely at the feet of Diana.
A storm of criticism was levelled at her on social media, and one outraged person even edited her Wikipedia page to describe the baker as an “ice cream melting super villain”.
But 69-year-old Diana said the Irishman with his trademark beard did not blame her for the incident and had actually called her earlier this week to warn her.
She told the Leader: “Iain had rung me three days go to warn me the knives were out. He absolutely does not hold me responsible.”
The WI judge continued: “We are just 12 amateur bakers. Why would I want to sabotage his Baked Alaska? I was pleased to get through the first week and anything else has been a bonus.
“It is supposed to be fun, just about our skills and our love of baking. But the way it was portrayed was so far from the truth.
“I was surprised to find it [the ice cream in her freezer], I didn’t know it was his.
I did ask whose it was and someone said Iain and then he came over; it was a minimal time it was out of the freezer and there is proof of that in the filming.”
Show judge Paul Hollywood leapt to Diana’s defence online, tweeting: “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
“I’m glad Mary’s not on Twitter (as) this would upset her.. #enoughnow”.
Show presenter Sue Perkins also joined in to defend Diana, who now lives in Whitchurch.
She tweeted: “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.”
“I’ve just got to put my side of the story out there and rise above it hopefully,” continued Diana, who had been having a good week prior to incident.
“It was just all a bit of a shock. I had no idea it was going to be made into such a huge thing.”
Elsewhere, it was a sweet taste of success for Diana as she survived this week’s theme of desserts. She is now down to the final eight.
The first task for the bakers was the sauciest signature challenge yet – to make eight individually portioned self-saucing sponge puddings.
Most attempted melt-in-the-middle fondant puddings where the filling is soft and oozes when you cut into it.
The sponge had to be a light mixture with Diana beating her mixture like mad to ensure her cake batter was as light as a feather.
Once again Diana was the only baker following a more traditional recipe. She incorporated her orange and lemon sauce into the sponge batter – her take on the classic lemon surprise pudding.
When in the oven the syrup should drop to the bottom of the cake.
She said: “It’s the biggest things I’ve done since giving birth. The sauce has a knack of disappearing, but only time will tell.
“Fingers crossed there will be orange and lemon curd in the bottom.”
On tasting her creation, show judge Mary Berry said: “ They look fun. I love the presentation.” Paul Hollywood said: “The flavour is absolutely gorgeous.”
Surprised by the praise, a thrilled Diana said: “I shall walk out of here on air.”
The technical challenge saw Diana go from top of the pile to bottom of the remaining bakers.
The test was to create a Mary Berry classic – tiramisu cake. The precise bake was aimed to test the bakers’ precision and the instructions given to follow were minimal. Sadly for Diana, her sponge did not rise well and did not soak up all the liquid.
The show-stopper challenge finale was to make a baked Alaska.
Contestants had to make their own sponge base for their homemade ice cream and then top it with meringue.
Diana set about creating a swan shaped Alaska with raspberry ripple ice cream in a joconde sponge.
After the “bingate” baked Alaska freezer scandal, and despite Diana’s meringue swans breaking in the oven, she made it through to fight another week.
Last night it was revealed Diana will play no further part in the show. BBC bosses said she fell ill prior to the filming of episode five earlier this year.