In the past, The Great British Bake Off’s controversies have been limited to the likes of custard swapping and binned baked Alaska, but more recently the biggest scandal to hit the tent is the upcoming move from the BBC to Channel 4. Love Productions, the company behind the hit show, has announced they have failed to negotiate a new contract with the BBC, and instead struck a £25,000,000 deal with the rival channel. Naturally this has stirred up more than a few strong feelings among die-hard Bake Off fans
One of the most noticeable changes will of course be the change in presenters, as three out of the four have not agreed to return after the move. Many viewers feel that the trademark humour of presenters Mel and Sue (who even signed off with a pun, stating that though they had loved watching the show “rise like a pair of yeasted Latvian baps”, they were opting to leave rather than “go with the dough”) will be lost and very difficult to replace. With a show such as Bake Off, in which that signature humour is a large part of the show’s flavour, future success could depend on their successors. Add to that the departure of Mary Berry, an iconic figure in baking and one half of the judging team, and you’re left with Paul Hollywood who – if the comments from my flatmates represent wider opinion – is arguably the presenter they’d most like to see in the (bread) bin.
Furthermore, the programme will now have to contain advert breaks which if you follow Channel 4’s usual system will cut the show down from an hour to around 45 minutes. It is as yet unclear how this drop in length will affect the show, with some worried that it may mean fewer contestants, challenges cut short or possibly omitted altogether.
The loss of Bake Off may also have severe repercussions for the BBC, following the government’s recent attack on the broadcasting institution. Bringing in over 15 million viewers at the best of times, the show was undeniably a flagship programme for the BBC, much loved and often discussed in such varied places as classrooms, boardrooms, living rooms and pretty much anywhere in between. A show with such wide appeal was a great asset to the BBC, evidence of a commitment to produce entertainment suitable to all. Losing Bake Off due to (primarily) financial reasons is perhaps a worrying omen of what is yet to come.
But perhaps the news isn’t as bad as it could have been. Channel 4 have made the valid argument that at least in their possession, the show remains in the hands of a publicly owned company and free to view – as opposed to going to a pay to view channel such as Sky. In this case, it would mean potentially not only a very different show, but one that many viewers may be unable to watch.
Even so, the future is very unclear for the hit show. Perhaps Channel 4 will not edit the recipe too much, and be able to recreate the show’s flavour, or even add to it. Is it even possible that, like Countdown, we could see an 8 Out of 10 Cats remix? (Who wouldn’t love that?). At the end of the day, all fans can hope is that The Great British Bake Off doesn’t become The Great British Blow Out.