Great British Bake Off scandal as it emerges favourite Marie has 'professional training'

Star baker Marie Campbell spent a week at a prestigious Paris cookery school

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The Independent Culture

Britain's favourite amateur baking show began only last week but already, scandal has erupted over the hot favourite's alleged professional training.

Marie Campbell won star baker in the first episode of The Great British Bake Off on Wednesday after impressing judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood with her Madeira cake and Black Forest gateau.

But it has since emerged that there might be a reason why the 66-year-old grandmother seemed head and shoulders above the rest of the competition - the Mail on Sunday reports that Marie once attended the famous Ecole Escoffier at the Paris Ritz for a patisserie course before running an online cupcake business and leading classes for other chefs.

However, before Marie's culinary past becomes the next Baked Alaska (#bingate, Iain Watters throwing his dessert in the bin...never mind), the BBC has confirmed that she is not breaking the rules by taking part in the series.

The Bake Off entry form states that contestants must not have earned any professional catering qualifications within the last decade, but Marie trained over 30 years ago.

The rules also stipulate that contestants must not depend on "commercial baking in a professional environment" as their main source of income and they cannot ever have worked as a full-time baker or chef.

"There are strict criteria to take part in the show and Marie met those criteria," a BBC spokesperson said. "She gained a certificate for one week's training in Paris in 1984, more than 10 years ago. She has not worked professionally as a baker or chef."

Marie will not be commenting herself.

The majority of this year's contestants run their own baking blogs and Instagram feeds where they show off some impressive creations.

More than 10 million viewers tuned in to the Bake Off's opening show, which saw Stuart 'Hipster Stu' Henshall booted off after Mary turned her nose up at his edgy beetroot sponge.

Catch the next episode on Wednesday night at 8pm on BBC1.