Dame Prue Leith has insisted Great British Bake Off did not mean to cause offence with its controversial Mexican-themed week, which was accused of cultural appropriation.
The Channel 4 series ignited global backlash with an episode featuring challenges inspired by the food of the Central American country, with the contestants tasked with making sweet bread pan dulce, tacos, and milk-soaked tres leches cake.
The episode began with presenters Noel Fielding and Matt Lucas dressed in sombreros and colourful ponchos, making a ‘distasteful’ joke that many said perpetuated harmful stereotypes.
Fielding quipped that he did not feel they should make Mexican jokes ‘because people will get upset’, with Lucas adding: ‘What, not even Juan?’
During an interview with The New Yorker magazine, Dame Prue said: ‘There would have been absolutely no intention to offend.
‘That’s not the spirit of the show.’
She also confirmed that she and fellow judge Paul Hollywood, set the challenges each week.
Following the broadcast, some on social media were critical of the programme’s depiction of Mexican culture, claiming it was guilty of cultural appropriation.
During the interview, Dame Prue also spoke about what she sees as the show’s positive impact.
‘Really, the whole phenomenon of Bake Off is, to me, absolutely extraordinary,’ she said.
‘This is rather a cliche thing to say, but I do think that it is a force for good, most of the time.
‘Everything we do in life is a bit stressful, we are always short of time, we’re short of money, there are all sorts of horrible things happening all over the world.
‘And Bake Off is this safe space where the worst thing that can happen is somebody will drop their bake.’
Great British Bake Off airs Tuesdays at 8pm on Channel 4.