French and Saunders turned down seven-figure sum to present Great British Bake Off

Stephanie Soteriou

Last week, we were all left a tad confused when it was announced that Noel Fielding and Sandi Toksvig will be the new hosts of The Great British Bake Off when it moves to Channel 4 later this year.

Neither star are particularly high-profile, and Noel in particular has no TV presenting history.

Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders/Rex Photos
The comic duo rejected the eye-watering offer.

Now it has been revealed that Noel and Sandi were far from Channel 4’s first choice, with comic duo Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders previously being offered a staggering £2.5million to host.

The Daily Mail reveal that French and Saunders turned down the seven-figure sum because they are concerned that the show will flop when it relaunches later this year.

A source explained: “It was never a viable option for them.

“A lot of money was offered, but Channel 4 have bought a turkey.”

Bake off favourites Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins will host the comedy talent contest (Copyright: BBC)
Channel 4 struggled to replace Mel and Sue.

A show insider added: “They were the top of the list to replace Mel and Sue. They absolutely would have brought in the viewers but it wasn’t to be. An offer was put in – a pretty high offer at that – but it wasn’t enough.

“The impression was that actually, no amount would have been enough.”

Bake Off sparked controversy last year when it was revealed that Channel 4 had poached the production from the BBC for £75million, however, original hosts Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, alongside judge Mary Berry, refused to jump ship out of loyalty for the Beeb.

Both Paul and Mary were paid £70,000 per series for their roles on the BBC show (Copyright: BBC)
Paul was the only original Bake Off star to stay.

The only original Bake Off star to remain with the show is judge Paul Hollywood, and Channel 4 have had trouble replacing the others.

On Thursday, it was announced that Sandi and Noel will be taking over presenting duties with cookery writer Prue Leith replacing Mary.

Mel and Sue earned around £100,000 a series on the BBC but The Daily Mail report that Prue will be picking up £500,000 – the same as Paul -, Noel will be earning £250,000 and Sandi £750,000.

Noel is being paid the least out of the new line-up.
Noel is being paid the least out of the new line-up.

A source dished: “Noel didn’t have the same bargaining power as Sandi – she is always inundated with work offers, Noel less so. He is just delighted to be working on the show.

“He can’t believe his luck. Sandi is a big fan of Noel’s so they are excited about working together.”

A spokeswoman for Love productions denied being rejected by French and Saunders, saying in a statement: “French and Saunders were not formally approached, this is untrue.”