Paul Hollywood’s suggestion that rainbow bagels “represent the NHS” led to a number of complaints, the broadcast regulator Ofcom has confirmed.
The Great British Bake Off judge was roundly mocked on social media for claiming that the rainbow colours commonly associated with LGBT+ Pride actually symbolised the UK’s National Health Service.
“Paul, why rainbow coloured bagels?” his fellow judge Prue Leith asked on Tuesday night’s episode.
“I think the rainbow colours for me, although it originated over in the States, I think it represents the NHS,” Hollywood explained.
“Well, it does now,” Leith replied with a laugh. They went on to agree that the rainbow bagels are “happy bread”, which was the closest they came acknowledging that the rainbow has been established as a symbol of LGBT+ Pride since 1978.
Over on Gay Twitter, viewers were having absolutely none of it.
— Tam (@TKersnake) October 6, 2020
Paul Hollywood: it represents the nhs.
— Rhys Collington (@RhysJCollington) October 6, 2020
— 🎃Bambi🎃 (@casualdva) October 6, 2020
While most of the commentary appeared to be tongue-in-cheek, a small number of people felt strongly enough to register a complaint with Ofcom – a grand total of 18, according to the Daily Mail.
It’s not the first time that the trend of rainbow colours being co-opted by the NHS has attracted criticism, though. In May a queer teen from Northern Ireland started a petition calling for it to stop.
“I and thousands of other LGBT+ people in this country feel like they are having their history erased – both young and the old members of the community,” 16-year-old told Forbes. “I thought someone should speak up and do something about it.
“People like us have been attacked for simply even wearing that flag, and when you see the very people who have hurled abuse at you flying your flag it just doesn’t sit right with a lot of us.”