What happened to MasterChef's missing fourth chef? What the BBC said about mystery contestant

The BBC is currently in the midst of airing the 13th series of MasterChef: The Professionals, which sees budding cooks battling it out in the kitchen to prove their culinary prowess.

In the early stages of the competition, each new episode usually introduces us to four new chefs hoping to make it to the next stage of the contest.

But mystery surrounds last night's broadcast (24 November), which saw just three contestants rustling up dishes for the judges after the fourth was edited from the programme.

Here's everything you need to know.

What happened?

At the top of the episode’s transmission, the BBC flashed a message on screen that confirmed that the show had been edited to exclude one of the four contestants.

"This programme has been edited and features 3 of the original 4 contestants who took part,” the statement read.

Immediately viewers took to social media to try to unearth the mysterious circumstances surrounding ‘The Fourth’, but were unable to find much explanation.

"Someone's been edited out of MasterChef and I need to know what happened,” one user wrote, while another asked: “Anybody know why tonight's MasterChef has been edited to show only three contestants?”

“Come to Twitter to find out why MasterChef was edited, and I’m none the wiser,” said one deflated fan.

The episode then continued as normal, but only focused on three of the participants who took part in the filming.

Who was the fourth contestant?

Some fans believed traces of the missing fourth contestant were remained in the show's footage (Photo: Twitter/@Amyjb28)

Despite the programme makers best efforts at adjusting the existing footage, many fans believed they were still able to glimpse the fourth contestant at the side of shots – an arm there, a neck here – and the missing chef is believed to be a man.

The usual on screen treatment was given to chefs Guillame from London, Burhan from Coventry and Scott from Manchester (Scott was eventually sent home), but the identity of the fourth contestant remains shrouded in mystery.

Why was the fourth contestant missing?

As part of the show, the contestants were tasked with taking on a particularly taxing skills challenge.

They were asked to replicate judge Marcus Wareing's version of crêpes suzette, a French dessert consisting of crêpes with a sauce of caramelised sugar and butter, tangerine or orange juice, and zest.

It is traditionally prepared with a tableside flambé performance, in which alcohol is added to a hot pan to create a burst of flames.

On social media, one fan quipped that the crêpes may have been “too much pressure” for the missing contestant, and that “they threw the sauce across the room and were disqualified.”

The Daily Mail, who have reached out to the BBC for answers, say a MasterChef spokesman said: “Due to unforeseen circumstances concerning one of our contestants, the programme tonight was edited to remove their appearance.”

The contestant's removal comes just weeks after Sky History was forced to pull new woodworking series, The Chop, after it was claimed one contestant had facial tattoos that linked him to Nazism and white supremacy.

That's led some on social media to speculate similarly in regard to MasterChef.

One fan said: “Anyone else noticing there is a generally bad vibe in the MasterChef kitchen tonight? Lots of criticism, snark, impatience… the missing fourth must be connected to this energy.”

A version of this article originally appeared on our sister title, the Yorkshire Evening Post