Prue Leith has addressed the response to a “traumatic” story in her autobiography, in which she admitted to drowning a litter of kittens as a child on the instructions of her mother.
The Great British Bake Off judge had written of how she was plagued by the memory of her mum forcing her to kill the bag of newborn cats just hours after their birth when she was just 11-years-old.
As a result of her sharing the story, some people called for Prue to be removed as a judge from Bake Off, with her now revealing how the criticism affected her in an interview with People.
Sharing that she felt like “public enemy No.1”, Prue said: “They don’t read the story and they feed off each other. Somebody says, ‘My God! That woman drowns kittens!’ And it just spiralled from there.
“I can’t bear the thought that people on Twitter really think that I would want to drown kittens.”
She continued: “It was so awful because people were saying things like, ‘I’ll never watch Bake Off again.’ I mean, what’s it got to do with Bake Off? Bake Off is the kindest, most inclusive, most friendly show in the world. They wouldn’t have me on if they thought I was a kitten drowner.”
Prue had written in her memoir I’ll Try Anything Once: “My mother and I, then 11, had just drowned some kittens… and for weeks I imagined those poor dead creatures.
“Too many kittens was a frequent occurrence and there had come a day when my mother, unable to find homes for yet another litter, decided to drown the latest batch.”
Prue said she tried to persuade her mother against it, but her protests “were met with a firm, ‘Darling, it has to be done. They are only a few hours old. They will hardly know it’s happening’”.
Despite her mother’s assurances, the TV personality said the kittens “fought like the devil for life”.
Prue has been a judge on Bake Off since 2017
Prue previously explained to HuffPost why she decided to include this story in her new memoir.
“This happened in the early 1940′s, when I was 11 years old, being brought up on a farm in South Africa,” she wrote in an emailed statement.
“I wrote about it honestly in my book, as an 11 year old it was an extremely traumatic experience, not one I would forget, however it is what happened 70 years ago.”
She also advocated neutering and spaying pets.
“Thankfully today in the UK we have the choice of neutering our cats and have more options to home kittens, although sadly in some parts of the world it is still an issue.”