'Great British Bake Off' Poster Shows Animal's Private Parts, Causing Controversy

A poster promoting the new season of The Great British Bake Off's debut in the U.K. last week caused a stir for including a reference to the show's famous well-endowed squirrel mascot. Shots of a real squirrel with enlarged genitalia were added to the show in the 2011 season before he was replaced in the 2016 season with a pheasant. The new poster featured an illustrated tribute to the fan-favorite squirrel, but the reference was not appreciated by those who are not fans of the show.

Dwight McLean spotted Channel 4's Bake Off poster and was offended by the image. "On the top of the advert is a squirrel exposing himself. Full frontal," McLean told The Sun. "He has his penis out. He has his legs apart and you can see his testicles as they are so large." Although the squirrel has a history with the show, McLean said it did not go with its theme and called it "pornographic."

The squirrel joined the show in 2011 when it still aired on the BBC. In 2016, the squirrel was dropped, causing outrage in the U.K. at the time. "The squirrel in the poster is a fair and anatomically accurate likeness of the squirrel who appeared on the show and who will be fondly remembered by Great British Bake Off fans," a Channel 4 spokesperson told The Sun.

The Great British Bake Off Season 11 launched on Channel 4 on Sept. 22 and was released on Netflix in the U.S. on Friday as part of Collection 8. Filming was supposed to start in April, but it was pushed back until July due to the coronavirus pandemic. Noel Fielding is back as host, with Matt Lucas joining as the new co-host. Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith are back as judges.

After production began, there was a coronavirus scare, which almost derailed the new season. Producer Kieran Smith told Radio Times a staffer on set started showing COVID-19 symptoms, but thankfully tested negative for the virus. The show picked 12 contestants before the pandemic began, and once production started, they all had to live in a "biosphere" for six weeks, although the show is typically filmed over 12 to 13 weeks. "Everything was complicated, everything was different, but everybody wanted to do it.," Smith explained, adding that the production was a big success. This season's competitors are Dave Friday, Hermine, Laura Adlington, Linda Rayfield, Loria Campbell-Clarey, Lottie Bedlow, Makbul Patel, Marc Elliott, Mark Lutton, Peter Sawkins, Rowan Williams, and Sura Selvarajah.