Prue Leith reveals why she found her GBBO Twitter mistake so upsetting

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Moya Crockett
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There was one main reason. 

Poor Prue Leith. How can you not feel sympathy for her? Back in October, The Great British Bake Off judge came in for torrents of online mockery after she accidentally revealed the winner of the baking competition show several hours ahead of schedule.

The 77-year-old restaurateur’s mistake was down to her getting confused about time zones: she was in Bhutan at the time, and thought the GBBO finale had already aired in the UK. Leith expressed her distress at her slip-up shortly after it happened, telling reporters that she was “in too much of a state to talk about it”.

But now that the dust has had time to settle, Leith has spoken candidly about why her gaffe - which she described as “the most idiotic thing in the world” - left her feeling so distraught.

“The thing that upset me most was I thought this will take attention off the winner, and Sophie [Faldo, the GBBO winner] had worked for months and months for this moment,” said Leith, during an appearance on ITV’s This Morning.

Leith, who made her name after launching an events catering service in 1960 and went on to open a Michelin-starred restaurant and legendary cookery school, said she was distraught at the thought that media coverage of the finale was now “going to be about my tweet, not about her triumph”.

“I was in Bhutan and had not had any reception for a while, so when I turned on my phone and there was reception there was a mass of tweets and one of them said ‘don’t forget to congratulate the winner after 10.30,’” she said.

“I thought, ‘Oh my god, it is past 10.30’, so I just quickly tweeted what I did.”

Prue Leith (left) with GBBO winner Sophie Faldo and fellow judge Paul Hollywood

As soon as she posted the tweet, Leith said, she thought: “Oh my God.”

“I went into a panic mode where I couldn’t work my phone and I didn’t know how to delete it quickly and I couldn’t think,” she said.

“In the end I just rang my trusty PA and she said, ‘I’ve already deleted it,’ and it was 89 seconds after I had done it and that was too late, it had been retweeted.”

Paul Hollywood, Leith’s fellow judge on Bake Off, said this week that he believed her tweet was responsible for a dip in viewing figures for the finale. However, while there was some speculation about whether Leith would be invited back to the show, Channel 4 has already confirmed she will be returning.

In a statement released earlier this month, Channel 4 CEO Alex Mahon said that it was “testament to the phenomenal appeal of The Great British Bake Off that almost nine million people watched Sophie triumph as Channel 4’s first ever Bake Off winner”, even after Leith’s revelation.

Faldo herself, meanwhile, has said that she has “no hard feelings” about Leith’s mistake. 

Shortly after her victory was officially announced, 2017’s star baker told BBC Newsbeat: “All it meant for me was that everyone knew a little bit too early.

“I really do feel bad for Prue because she must be feeling terrible about it.”

Images: Rex Features