Following some serious backlash, Channel 4 bosses have spoken out to defend the network’s acquisition of The Great British Bake Off, saying the broadcaster can “ensure that viewers can see it for years ahead.”
The network’s Chief Creative Officer, Jay Hunt, insisted everything was going well, claiming that Channel 4 “saved” the show for the viewing public following the disintegration of the BBC and Love Productions’ relationship.
“This was the worst kept secret in British TV history,” she told The Times. “Relations were very strained between Love and the BBC and as a result of that, a lot of people, several non-free-to-air platforms, had also expressed interest in it.
“So we’ve been able to pick it up and maintain it on free-to-air and ensure that viewers can see it for years ahead. It’s a good outcome. I think we all move on now. Do I, in the end, think it’s a good fit with Channel 4 that audiences will come and find it here? Yes, without a shadow of a doubt.”
The C4 boss also revealed that no one had been approached over Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins’ presenting post, as she feels it’s “important for the audience that we get this right.”
She shared her opinion that it’s the show’s format that has won over millions of viewers, not necessarily the judges/presenters, and so she isn’t too worried about having lost three out of four members from the original line-up.
“I think in the end format is incredibly important, and this is a highly successful format,” she continued.
“The case that was put to the board was that in the event that [Love Production’s] relations with the BBC broke down and that it came to market, there might be an opportunity for Channel 4. And that was with no talent attached.”
Bake Off is set to debut on Channel 4 in 2017, starting with a special celebrity edition for Stand Up To Cancer.
Meanwhile, recent reports have claimed that the BBC are planning a “rival” baking show with Mary Berry and Mel & Sue – who remained loyal to the BBC following the bidding war – with one publication suggesting the opposing programme might air before Channel 4’s iteration.
A source told The Telegraph that “a new baking or cookery show with them is almost certainly going to happen.”
The Great British Bake Off continues on BBC1, Wednesdays at 8pm.