2020’s nasty streak was finally able to infiltrate The Great British Baking Show last week, when Hermine, the closest thing to a fan-favorite contestant this season, was eliminated in the semifinals due to her underwhelming pâtisserie creations — a departure that gave viewers an extra shock, given that the French-raised accountant specialized in her native pastries. (And jelly cakes, for some reason.) The vanilla trio of Laura, Dave, and Peter will be advancing to the finals instead, but Hermine got the last laugh by writing this endearing letter to her fans, which was posted to Baking Show’s official social-media pages. “I bake from the heart and all I wanted to do was put a smile on the judges’ faces with my bakes and every week as they enjoyed my flavors it filled my heart with so much joy. I mean! What more could you need after a Pruegasm or Paul taking your bake for lunch?” she wrote, in part. “It is okay to try new things, to be silly every now and then, and to laugh at your own silly self. It does not make you any less reliable and dependent as a person. Yet it is liberating for your soul.” She added that it was an “absolute privilege” to have competed on the show, and her fellow contestants’ “camaraderie was amazing.”
However, upon Hermine’s departure, social-media users decided to direct their ire to a certain Baking Show finalist: Laura. The contestant has been the recipient of an onslaught of hateful and fatphobic messages since the semifinals aired last week, with other users noting that Laura’s record, compared to Hermine’s, wasn’t as strong leading up to the elimination. (Hermine, for example, won two Star Bakers. Laura won one.) The frequency of the trolling prompted Paul Hollywood to issue a statement on Instagram to condemn the “disgusting” behavior, and also reiterate how he and Prue Leith operate as judges. “Those of you who may not be aware how Bake Off works or new to the series may have missed what we have always done on Bake Off judging. Each week stands on its own! It never matters what any baker has done in previous weeks,” he wrote. “Even if you win 4/5 Star Bakers and then have a bad week you will be at risk of going sadly. It’s the rule that has been in place for 11 years!”
Laura, who disabled the response function to her tweets as of last week, offered one comment about the ongoing harassment. “It’s okay to be sad your favorite person didn’t go through, but please remember it’s not my fault. I don’t make the decisions. GBBO is all about kindness and I haven’t seen much of that on here,” she wrote on Twitter. “It’s easy to sit there on your sofa and judge. But I am a real person with feelings. Please take a moment to consider your words before you judge someone you’ve never met and whose food you’ve never tasted.” Several prominent former contestants, such as David Atherton and Candice Brown, also voiced their support.