Controversial Great British Bake Off contestant Diana Beard has said she left the show part way through the series after a freak fall severed her olfactory nerve, robbing her of her sense of smell.

The 69-year-old has been at the centre of a storm of critical coverage after some viewers blamed her for the departure of fellow contestant Iain Watters - dubbed "freezer-gate" - in episode four of the BBC programme.

Earlier this morning (August 28), Diana complained that the show had been edited to make it look as though she sabotaged her rival's chances by taking his Baked Alaska dish - ice cream baked inside meringue - out of the freezer on purpose so it would melt.

The BBC then announced that Diana would not be appearing in episode five, explaining that she "fell ill" ahead of filming.

But she has since clarified that she "fainted" and banged her head during supper with the other contestants just before production of the episode was due to start.

In a freak accident, the pensioner, who lives near Whitchurch in Shropshire, said: "I fainted - which I have never done - and bashed my head, severing my olfactory nerve.

"So I have now lost my sense of smell and most of my taste."

She added that she has some sensation of foods which are very salty or vinegary, but has been told by a specialist that nothing medically can be done to repair the damage and she may never fully recover her senses.

"It could have been worse, and I am counting my blessings," said Diana, who used to run an upholstery business.

She said the announcement that she would not be returning for episode five had been brought forward by the BBC, following the furore of the most recent broadcasts in which some members of the public branded her "evil".

"At least people will know I haven't wimped out," she added.

"It's a relief, as people now know the truth."