'Great British Baking Show' contestant says she still can't watch the series after being bullied by fans 4 years ago
INSIDER 2hrs ago
a woman wearing a uniform: Stacey Hart competed on season eight of "Bake Off." Channel 4 © Channel 4 Stacey Hart competed on season eight of "Bake Off." Channel 4

Despite the positive energy "The Great British Baking Show" is known for, some contestants have faced trolling and bullying from viewers.

The series, known as "The Great British Bake Off" in the UK, brings around a dozen home bakers into the spotlight every season, and for some contestants, that recognition had a negative effect.

Season-eight baker Stacey Hart told Insider about the bullying that occurred when her season aired and why she doesn't watch the series anymore.

Hart said she has a hard time watching the show because it 'brings back memories of sadness'

Getting cast on "The Great British Baking Show" was a great accomplishment for Hart. But the reality of being on the series was tainted by online bullies, who made watching her season painful.

Hart told Insider that she can't watch the show at all anymore.

"After I was on it I didn't want to watch it anymore," she said. "It brings back memories of sadness because I had some horrible trolling after that really, really affected me and my family."

Hart continued, "I know it sounds terrible. But that's the way I feel, and in order for me to carry on my life happily, I stay away."

The baker said she was portrayed a certain way on the show

a person smiling for the camera: Stacey Hart said she was portrayed as the "funny" baker. Channel 4 © Channel 4 Stacey Hart said she was portrayed as the "funny" baker. Channel 4

Hart said she was aware of how the production team was trying to portray her on her season.

"I was kind of told how they were going to portray me. It was like I did the funny stuff," she said. "Like I broke the oven door. I didn't break the oven door at all. They put the oven door straight back on and it was not a big deal."

She continued, "There were certain things they showed me doing that they didn't show other people doing because they can't show everybody, but they show the funniest things."

But there were still moments where she was annoyed by specific editing choices.

"I know that what you see on the show is not necessarily what happened," Hart told Insider. "So I am very aware of editing."

She added, "And now I find it difficult to watch it because it brings back pain in my heart."

Online commenters also often criticized Hart's more emotional moments, particularly during stressful bakes, when they saw them edited together on the screen.

Hart wasn't big on social media before the show, and the experience didn't warm her to it

The baker said when she initially watched her season, she was "in very good humor" until she realized she was trending on social media.

She told Insider she didn't even have an Instagram until a friend suggested she make one while she was applying for the series. But when her season aired, she started getting wrapped up in all the online hate she was receiving.

"Social media, in general, wasn't really important to me at the time. And then it became such a thing where I didn't want to look at Twitter, but I couldn't help but look at Twitter," she said. "I didn't want to see what people said about me, but I couldn't help myself."

When her season aired, Hart said she faced an overwhelming amount of online bullying

a woman sitting on a table: The show can cause the bakers a lot of stress. Channel 4 © Channel 4 The show can cause the bakers a lot of stress. Channel 4

Throughout her run on the show, Hart was criticized by fans, publications, and even the judges for her decorating choices, which often included hot-pink food coloring and edible glitter. People were also quick to express their frustration when she stayed on the show instead of fan-favorite bakers, like Julia Chernogorova, Yan Tsou, and Liam Charles, after struggling through the challenges.

She was sent home on semi-final week - despite the judges' praise for her pink flamingo showstopper bake - which inspired some viewers to post on social media celebrating the fact that she didn't make it to the finals.

"I had a lot of lovely, lovely people, and I still do, but unfortunately you don't remember those," Hart said. "You remember the ones who are nasty and call you a 's--- baker,' 'rubbish at this,' 'c--- at that,' 'wish she'd leave."

Hart was also concerned about how the bullying would impact her family.

"It got to where I thought, 'My children are going to see this stuff!' And I've got two older kids so it was very, very, very hard," she told Insider.

After working hard to get on the show, she was miserable watching her season

"One day my husband turned around to me and I'd just finished watching my final episode, and I was just out of it and he was like, 'Where are you? Where's my Stacey? Come back,'" she told Insider.

Part of what made the trolling so difficult was the fact that Hart put a huge amount of effort into applying for the show.

After getting turned down her first try, she dedicated an entire year to practicing one area of baking a month until she felt confident in all of the show's iconic challenges.

"They don't realize how hard it is and how much effort it takes and the amount of work that is put into it," she told Insider. "And then to be told you're a s--- baker. Well, if I was a s--- baker I wouldn't be on the show."

Despite how she feels about watching the show, Hart doesn't regret her time competing on it

a group of people posing for the camera: Stacey Hart said she would compete on the show again. Channel 4 © Channel 4 Stacey Hart said she would compete on the show again. Channel 4

Although the experience of watching the series and being bullied online by fans was difficult, Hart told Insider that competing on the show was the "best experience" of her life.

"Even though I loved every minute doing the show - every minute - I didn't like the airing of the show," she said. "I'd do the shooting all over again, but I wouldn't do the airing again."

Seasons later, contestants on the show are still dealing with online harassment

When baker Laura Adlington made it to the finals on 2020's season 11, fans took to social media to express their disappointment with the judges' decision.

After receiving an influx of negative messages, Adlington tweeted out against the online trolls.

"It's OK to be sad your favourite 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 in one tweet.

"It's easy to sit there on your sofa and judge. But I am a real person with feelings," Adlington added in a second tweet, "Please take a moment to consider your words before you judge someone you've never met and whose food you've never tasted."

Many fans expressed that they thought season-11 baker Hermine should've made it to the finals instead of Adlington, so the fan-favorite baker took to Instagram to ask that people be kind and evaluate their words before posting online.

"Please don't be unkind in my name ... Honor my time in GBBO by showing love and kindness," part of Hermine's post read.

Even judge Paul Hollywood addressed the bullying from "Bake Off" fans on season 11.

He defended Adlington on his Instagram, calling the bullying "disgusting behaviour."

"Each week stands on its own!! It never matters what any baker has done in previous weeks … STOP trolling any of the bakers!!" part of the post read.

Representatives for "The Great British Baking Show" did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

Follow along with our series of interviews to see what else the former bakers revealed to Insider.

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