In a dramatic escalation of the almighty Bake Off bun fight, the BBC could launch a rival to the show BEFORE the original version even gets an airing on Channel 4.
And it may well star Mary Berry, Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc.
Channel 4 bought the show from Love Productions earlier in the month – a move which saw presenters Mel and Sue decide to quit out of loyalty to the Beeb. Mary Berry followed the pair last week, leaving Channel 4 with little more than Paul Hollywood and an empty tent.
“We have not ruled anything out and we could well reunite Mel, Sue and Mary,” a BBC source told The Guardian. “And yes, we could probably get a show out before Channel 4, if we chose to do so. We are looking lots of ideas, although we are not yet ready to make an announcement.”
In a further twist, Channel 4 may struggle to get its first Bake Off on air before the summer of 2018 if the BBC decides to enforce a clause allowing them to block filming for a year.
The BBC is also said to be confident that a new baking show with a different name and format wouldn’t cause any copyright problems.
Plans for the show come amid fervent speculation that veteran baker Mary Berry is only going to work for another year before retiring – a claim dismissed by her agent. Fiona Lindsay.
“That’s simply wrong; she has lots of exciting projects coming up, including on TV with the BBC, and has absolutely no plans to retire,” Lindsay said.
“It’s a given that Mary is a priority for the BBC, as long as the sun shines,” a BBC source told the paper.
“We feel no need to reiterate how much we love her and how important she is to the BBC. We are delighted that she has chosen to stay and the public are as well.”
There’s more good news, too: the original Fab Four of Hollywood, Berry, Perkins and Giedroyc are set to reunite on the BBC one final time for a Christmas special.