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Mary Berry Admits She Didn’t Tell the Whole Truth to Bad Bakers on ‘GBBO’

Food & Wine logo Food & Wine 8/13/2018 Adam Campbell-Schmitt
Mary Berry et al. smiling for the camera © Isabel INFANTES/Getty Images

As a judge on The Great British Bake Off, Mary Berry made a household name for herself with her vast knowledge of baked goods and keen ability to criticize a biscuit or bundt cake without causing too many ruffled feathers among the shows amateur pastry makers. But just because Berry didn’t call out a litany of subpar qualities in some of the less-seasoned bakers’ treats, doesn’t mean the veteran cookbook author and television presenter didn’t take outright offense to some of the bites she took on the BBC reality competition series. Berry admits that she fibbed a bit to spare some of the contestants' feelings.

“We did have a wonderful man and he made a beetroot cake. It really was awful but we didn’t say it was nasty because he would get so upset,” Berry told Express. “There were quite a few things I didn’t like so much,” she said, adding, “people know when they’ve done something awful. It’s been so bad it made me feel quite ill.”

Berry also thought fellow judge Paul Hollywood took some of the bakers to task a little too brusquely, but still respected her co-judge on the old iteration of the series (even if she did get under his skin on occasion). “We had great fun. He was brilliant at bread and I had my thing,” she said. “I could sometimes tick him off. He was a bit harsh and I was trying to encourage people.”

Berry insisted that when contestants mess something up, “they don’t need to be told off about it, they need to know to how to have success next time.”

While Berry has been off GBBO since it moved from the BBC to the UK’s Channel 4 last year (though a previously unaired season with Berry is currently on PBS in the States this summer), her replacement, Prue Leith, has done her best to fill the former judge’s shoes. According to Female First, Leith said she even tried to pay tribute to Berry in the finale of the first Channel 4 season. "On the day of the finals, I decided to wear an apron that said, 'What would Mary do?' I thought it would be hilarious. No one noticed til they started filming and then I was told to take it off... Obviously, it wouldn't have been appropriate.”

One thing both Berry and Leith have in common is their finesse for causing a stir with some of their adages and antics. Berry has been one for controversial food statements while Leith famously called for less sugary treats on GBBO and then accidentally leaked the winner of the 2017 Channel 4 series on social media.

RELATED VIDEO: Mary Berry Dishes on Not Reading Food Labels, Her New Show, and 'Great British Bake Off'

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