Great British Bake Off: Diana Beard's exit announced

Contestant Diana gives her side of the story to BBC Radio Shropshire's breakfast show

Warning: This story contains spoilers

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Great British Bake Off contestant Diana Beard has left the show, but the BBC said her exit was due to illness, not a controversy over the latest episode.

Beard was blamed by some viewers for Iain Watters' elimination, but she claimed to have been "stitched up" by the way the programme was edited.

The BBC said she was taken ill before the subsequent episode was filmed and will not be seen again in this series.

All episodes were filmed between April and June.

Meanwhile, the corporation said it had received 556 complaints about the episode by Thursday morning.

No grudge

On Wednesday's programme, Watters was eliminated from the show after throwing his melted Baked Alaska in a bin.

Some viewers have since called for his reinstatement, suggesting Beard engineered his dismissal by taking his ice cream out of the freezer.

Speaking on Thursday night, Watters told BBC Newsnight he had no idea his fellow contestant had removed the ice cream.

But he added: "I don't hold any grudge against Diane. I think it was just done in the heat of the moment."

Watch: Iain checks his ice cream [contains spoilers]

In a statement about her departure, a BBC spokesperson said: "Diana will not appear in the rest of the series as she fell ill ahead of filming episode five earlier this year."

Speaking earlier on BBC Radio Shropshire, 69-year-old Beard - the oldest contestant to have appeared on the BBC ratings winner - cried foul over how Wednesday's episode was edited.

Iain Watters: "I don't hold any grudge against Diana. I think it was just done in the heat of the moment"

"I'm disappointed with the way it's been portrayed," she said. "I've been stitched up, haven't I?

"We were 12 amateur bakers, [there's] no prize money involved. Why would I sabotage Iain's Baked Alaska?

"This has made it look like some cutthroat competition," she continued. "I think someone's culpable for the editing, really."

Beard claimed Watters' ice cream had been out of the freezer for no more than "40 seconds" and that her "conscience was intact".

Diana Beard and Iain Watters Diana Beard said Iain Watters did not hold her responsible for his elimination

The BBC released a statement from Watters, saying: "'I have seen all the controversy and I don't hold Diana responsible in any way. There are no grudges, we are still friends and keep in contact regularly."

Celebrities involved in the show leapt to Beard's defence. Co-host Sue Perkins insisted there had been "no sabotage" and that the situation was "getting a little inflamed for my liking".

"This is a show about CAKES," the comedienne and broadcaster continued on Twitter. "Please, let's save the ire for real stuff."

"At the end of the day Mary [Berry] & I need something to judge," tweeted judge Paul Hollywood. "It's not about melted ice cream but about what's presented."

A BBC spokesperson said: "As shown in the episode, Iain became the fourth baker to leave the tent because he didn't present Mary and Paul with anything to judge in the showstopper challenge and both judges were very clear about the reasoning behind the decision.

"Due to the extreme temperature in the tent that day, many of the bakers struggled to get their ice cream to set as seen in the episode. Diana removing Iain's ice cream from the freezer for less than a minute was in no way responsible for Iain's departure."

An average of 8.1 million viewers tuned into The Great British Bake Off on Wednesday.

Watters is the fourth contestant to leave the BBC One show after Jordan Cox, Claire Goodwin and Enwezor Nzegwu were shown the door in previous weeks.

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