A bit of a change for the Great British Bake Off, and it’s viewers, as the BBC has lost the contract to broadcast it. The show will now be aired on Channel 4.
Channel 4 will now have the show for the three years, thanks to three year contract with Love Productions, who make the show. The very first outing for the Bake Off will be a celebrity version for the charity Stand Up To Cancer, in 2017.
Apparently, Love Productions have been undergoing negotiations with the BBC over the Bake Off for over a year, with one last ditch meeting taking place on Monday. The contract was then signed with Channel 4 that same evening.
Naturally, the BBC had hoped to keep hold of the Bake Off, and hoped that Love Productions would change it’s mind, saying that the Bake Off is a “quintessentially BBC programme”.
It seems that they disagreed. As for the reason for the switch, it’s understood that Channel 4 offered more money for the brand after their negotiations with the BBC broke down.
Channel 4’s chief creative officer, Jay Hunt, had this to say: “Channel 4 is very proud to be the new home for The Great British Bake Off. I’m 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.”
Richard McKerrow, Love Productions creative director, also chimed in: “It’s a public service, free-to-air broadcaster for whom Love Productions have produced high-quality and highly successful programmes for more than a decade. It’s tremendously exciting to have found a broadcaster who we know will protect and nurture The Great British Bake Off for many years to come.”
Naturally, the loss of the Great British Bake Off is a huge loss for the BBC. Not only did they invest a huge amount of money from TV licenses into growing the show, but they have also lost the show’s large viewer base, as well.
The opening episode of the seventh season was watched by an average of 10.4 million people.
Lorraine Heggessey, who was the controller of BBC One between 2000 and 2005, discussed how the loss of a show used to be an unusual occurrence.
“In my day there were often tough negotiations over programme budgets, but in the end there was an unwritten rule that you did not walk away and take your show somewhere else. It sounds like Love Productions were going to go [to a rival broadcaster] anyway, that’s what worries me because the BBC has invested a huge amount of license fee payers money in growing this show.”
There are of course concerns from the show’s fanbase and previous contestants that the move to Channel 4 will mean a unwelcome change to the beloved show. But, some are (rightly) saying that Channel 4 would be mad to mess with the format, knowing that the show’s fans will be looking for any changes, and it would be unwise to rock the boat.
John Whaite, winner of the 2012 show, said to ITV News: “Channel 4 are not going to mess around with its format and if they do they’ll be stupid. I think everyone is going to have a very close eye on what they do with the show. If they do anything, if they make one wrong step, I think it could be catastrophic. So I’m not concerned, I think it will remain the Bake Off.”
Update: BBC News have reported that the BBC fell £10m short of Channel 4’s offer. They offered £15m, but Love Productions refused to entertain offers below £25m per year.