In what is something of a major blow for Channel 4, Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, who have been hosting The Great British Bake Off since day one, have declined to continue their roles on the show when it moves to the channel next year.
The news comes less than 24 hours after the BBC lost the rights to Bake Off when negotiations broke down with indie Love Productions over the budget for further seasons of the show. Within hours, Channel 4 swooped in and poached the rights in a three-year deal worth in excess of £75 million.
Neither Giedroyc or Perkins were consulted about the negotiations or Love’s decision to turns down the BBC’s final offer, though to be somewhere in the range of £12-15 million per year, and take the show to Channel 4. When news broke, sources were unsure if the duo would be willing to front the show for C4, after they previously informed those close to negotiations that it was their desire that Bake Off stay on the BBC.
Likewise, judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry were not consulted and do not have deals in place to return as judges on Channel 4’s version of the format. There has been no official statement from either party, but there is intensifying talk that they shared the views of Giedroyc and Perkins that this was a BBC show and as such may choose not to continue.
“We were very shocked and saddened to learn yesterday evening that Bake Off will be moving from its home. We made no secret of our desire for the show to remain where it was. The BBC nurtured the show from its infancy and helped give it its distinctive warmth and charm, growing it from an audience of two million to nearly 15 million at its peak”, Giedroyc & Perkins said in a statement. “We’ve had the most amazing time on Bake Off, and have loved seeing it rise and rise like a pair of yeasted Latvian baps. We’re not going with the dough. We wish all the future bakers every success”.
Less than 24 hours ago, Channel 4 Chief Creative Officer Jay Hunt said that she was “delighted we have been able to partner with the hugely talented team at Love Productions to keep this much loved show on free-to-air television”, but is the same “much loved show” without the two hosts and potentially Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood as well? Or have Channel 4 just bought a very expensive format without the ingredients that made it a hit?