A letter to the #GBBO haters

The Bake-Off comes to a close for another year with more innuendo, innovation and twitter abuse than ever before. And I’m sad that it is this last point that has come to define this series as far as the press is concerned – reading certain fascist publications, it seems some contestants can cause differences of opinion that drive apart families. I’d love to write about the positive, brilliant aspects of Bake-Off that we’ll see in tonight’s final, but I couldn’t help think about why some people feel the need to be so abhorrent.

As journalists have failed to get hold of this series’ bunch, we as the flavours of yester years have been repeatedly interviewed about “how it felt to be in this position last time” and to give our views on this year’s contestants. And we’ve been glad to comment, as far as I can tell; all of us with something to sell (did you know I’ve got a book out?!)

One thing I haven’t commented on, however, is that this year’s cruelty isn’t a unique occurrence to any particular Bake-Off contestant. It happens across the board; it was there last year and, like these last few weeks, was targeted at the perceived younger and more attractive women…


Dear misogynists and other anthropoid assemblages of bitterness,

I respect that some of you hurling your e-faeces at the wonderful Ms Tandoh et al are genuine e-wankers. And I guess that many of you, like Mr Blanc, forgivably don’t understand how the Internet works. But most of you are respectable people in reality, so why do you have to share your difficulty in coping with seeing someone, who you perceive as being beneath your over-inflated self, not doing what you would in an enviable position?

It has become the done thing amongst some to treat those on telly as something to help express yourself by – this can be in a positive way, like by tweeting #TeamRuby #TeamKimberley or #TeamFrances. A bit of harmless fun and something I’m happy to enjoy. But I take a look at your replies and see bitching to a level never before associated with cake.

There are loads of ways I’ve seen this behaviour justified. Those guys are on telly. We don’t know them; they’re just a face on a screen. They’re never going to read what we’ve written. They’re in such a privileged position; they can take it. They put themselves in the public eye; they should expect to divide people. We’d never say any of this IRL, never to their faces!

On any kind of examination, any attempts at justification are just such total nonsense. Unkindness is still being committed.

I’d like to make something clear: the abuse is felt. Do you think that the contestants don’t read their twitter interactions? Back when I was on, I’d search in the little box at the top right for “#GBBO James” in order to find every mention, the good and the worst. This was just my way of coping with a strange situation. 

Please, stop. Whether you get picked up by the “papers” (who will seek out the most vile tweets as examples) or your words are read directly, you will be responsible for making someone, and their family, sad. 

Keep being hurtful, and us at the other end just have to hope that you are for no other reason than you enjoy it. 

Hope you enjoy the final!



  1. I totally agree, people can be really horrible and it’s not alright. It is of course fine not to like something… as long as you’re not a dick about it, and abusive twitter messages definitely count as being a dick about it. Have opinions but don’t use your opinions to hurt other people because that’s just not nice. I also don’t like it when people feel the need to make personal attacks against the contestants; so maybe you don’t think that their baking is up to scratch, but does that really mean you have to make it personal and make assertions about them that you can’t really make because you don’t know these people! You have no idea what they are like in real life so why take it to that place. Let the baking decide.

  2. I don’t understand why some people feel the need to be quite so unpleasant. Why do they watch if they don’t like it?

    I shall be watching the final and loving it.

  3. This isn’t new, James. It happened after series 1 of GBBO and I suspect it will happen every time. I suspect that means you’ve all done something right in that you’re making other people insanely jealous. People will hate, end of. That doesn’t make it right but I don’t see that things will change. There are vile people in the world, it’s just that the internet makes it easier for you to find them, or their vile utterances at least.

    PS You’re all fab, there is no way I could subject myself to what you all did in the Bake off tent every week.

  4. Quite right! I read a thoughtful article somewhere this morning that suggested Ruby was being victimised because she’d made the mistake of being seen to “actually care” about the outcome. It’s too bad the fact that she’s young, pretty, and thin means she’s seen as insincere. I’m rooting for Frances because I love her style, but really, I’d be pleased if any of them won; they’ve all worked incredibly hard, and there’s enough pressure as it is without Twitter abuse.

  5. Well said James. Their is no excuse for unkindness. People just need to grow up I think and understand that just as the pen is mightier than the sword, the keyboard is mightier and more powerful still, as it is seen by so many.
    Good luck to all who put themselves out there and try to follow a dream…and good luck to the scared haters too fearful to do anything other than bitch and moan.
    P.s “e-wankers”…brilliant!

  6. Thank you for putting this out there. I find it is extremely disturbing to see such abuse directed at one person for absolutely no reason what-so-ever. These bullies are not part of the GBBO and I really think the BBC and GBBO should stand against this kind of bullying.

  7. It’s so sad because it’s such a happy show. The bile seemed to be everywhere this year and put me off joining in conversations on twitter. I don’t understand where the quantum leap starts and ends between a sweeping statement about someone’s personality and a tasty cake. People on television are human beings too! And if I had read some of that stuff about me, I’d have a cry…

    I did feel that the way the beeb edited the show – more so than previous years – focussed on the contestants reactions to each other’s victories / failures. Not that it in any way excused the vitriol I saw, but it might explain why I felt it was more pressured than usual when watching it. It’s also interesting to wonder if this tweaked style of editing would have engendered the same reaction if the contestants had been male. I think not.

    In happier news, I have had a proper giggle at your tweets this evening. Do you have a book out? I’m not sure, but I think you might have a book out. Bookbookbook. Well done x

  8. I can’t for the life of me understand why people think it’s ok to hide behind their computer screens spouting off thoughtless comments that are hurtful and spiteful – that people wouldn’t even DREAM of saying in real life to someone’s face – but that’s it though, isn’t it? Twitter and other social sites don’t count as “real life” to so many people.

    And as soon as you’re on the TV, that’s it, you’re a “celebrity” and must never check your twitter feed. But in truth, I’ve spoken to Ruby a few times (something my family are so shocked to hear!) and we’ve talked about ice cream, her exams, her cat etc. and she really is just a normal kid at uni doing something amazing with her free time.

    But how can baking be turned into Big Brother? That’s what I don’t get. It’s CAKE for heaven’s sake! Some people get waaaayyyy to judgemental over such a light hearted TV programme.

    I know this much though – there was a question mark earlier over whether or not I should apply for next year as I love baking, but after seeing the backlash against Ruby, I’ve just binned the application form and put it out of my mind. It’s put me off completely.

    I would never be strong enough to have that much negativity thrown my way for absolutely no reason other than being a young female on a baking show.

  9. Are you certain the internet trolls aren’t talking about the American version? The US version deserved contempt.

    In contrast, the GBBO contestants have consistently been remarkably talented and sophisticated bakers. There’s some reality cheese in the show but it seems like it’s just to fulfill a producer’s requirement. We are introduced to the bakers but never embarrassed with ugly moments of over sharing or false pathos. It’s about the contestant’s food and not about the contestant.

    I propose the trolls happened to target the bake off because of some atavistic brain stem response (fear of stand mixers? Cake = intellectual elitism?). I’m not certain the E-venom is related to GBBO in any real way. I’m an American. I am exposed to this phenomenon daily.

    Why isn’t this broadcast in the US?

  10. you are so right James. Some people are so intolerant of other people. They must live small narrow lives when all they can do is be so negative and hurtful to people they don’t even know. Good luck with your new book and keep wearing your fab Shetland Knits – love them.

  11. Jess said “But how can baking be turned into Big Brother? That’s what I don’t get. It’s CAKE for heaven’s sake!”

    I’ve never seen the GBBO and only a minuscule amount of anything else because I gave away my last TV in 2005.

    On the occasions when I have seen what passes for entertainment these days it’s clear that the big thing is what I personally call “Humiliation TV”.

    Amelia also said that she felt that the BBC edited it to focus on the contestants’ reactions to the other contestants’ failures and successes. Of course they would! Whether it is baking, gardening, dinner at home, house clutter, untidy rooms, strangely shaped people, overweight people, misbehaving children, choirs and on and on and on what it is really about is wringing emotion out of the people at the event. This is so that viewers can watch people squirm, cry, break down, sob or otherwise “display” for the cameras.

    I say this as a 56 year old because when I was in my teens, 20s and 30s, there was absolutely nothing on TV like this. You can mark ground zero as Big Brother when the nation was invited to gawp at, criticise and pass comment on people who were there to be paraded for analysis or otherwise of prurient viewers. Sadly, almost everything I get to see on TV at friends’ houses these days is aimed at exactly the same market, however it’s being dressed up.

  12. James, you’re a great baker and a great person. This letter was a brilliant message to Internet trolls everywhere. Good luck on your baking career and degree.

  13. James, you are a great baker and a great inspiration to all. This letter is a brilliant reminder to internet trolls that hate is not the answer. Good luck with your baking and medical future. Caitlin, London

  14. Looks like the public have listened to you, this year – 2014 – none of the contestants have had any hassle from the press. Apart from a few comments re the “bingate” thing, there’s been very little negativity re the Bakeoff. Each of the twelve bakers still friends and in constant contact via our Whatsapp Group. We all kept away from social media until after the GBBO went live.

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