Great British Bake Off: BBC loses rights to Channel 4

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Great British Bake Off
Image caption,
The show was first broadcast in 2010

The BBC has lost the contract to broadcast The Great British Bake Off, which will now be shown on Channel 4.

It has signed a three-year deal with Love Productions, which makes the hit show, currently shown on BBC One.

BBC News understands the corporation offered Love Productions £15m per year to keep the show, but the company would not accept offers below £25m.

Love Productions said talks with the BBC had been taking place for a year, with a last-ditch meeting on Monday.

Negotiations with presenters

They signed a deal with Channel 4 the same evening.

The first Channel 4 edition of the programme, a celebrity version of Bake Off for the charity Stand Up To Cancer, will be broadcast in 2017.

The BBC earlier said it hoped Love Productions would change its mind and that Bake Off was a "quintessentially BBC programme".

Channel 4 is understood to have offered more money for the brand following the breakdown in negotiations with the BBC. Both Channel 4 and Love Productions have been asked to comment on the amount paid to acquire the show.

BBC media correspondent David Sillito said the show's presenters had only just been told about the news and negotiations with them had yet to begin.

Image caption,
The contestants of the current series will be the last ones to appear on the BBC

Jay Hunt, Channel 4's chief creative officer, said: "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, said: "We believe we've found the perfect new home for Bake Off.

"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."

Image caption,
Contestant Val was seen trying to build a gingerbread creation earlier in series seven

Lorraine Heggessey, who was the controller of BBC One between 2000 and 2005, said a production company walking away from negotiations 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," she told BBC Two's Newsnight.

Media caption,
Lorraine Heggessey discusses Bake Off's move to Channel 4

"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 licence fee payers money in growing this show."

The opening show of the current series, the seventh, was watched by an average of 10.4 million viewers.

Bake Off was 2015's most-watched programme, with 15.1 million viewers for the final, according to consolidated figures which include catch-up viewing. It got an average audience of 13.4m people watching on the night it was broadcast.

The show, currently airing on BBC One on Wednesday evenings, is hosted by Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, with Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry as the judges. It sees amateur bakers compete in a series of challenges.

Media caption,
A look at how the Great British Bake Off crown was won in 2015

In a previous statement, Love Productions thanked the BBC "for the role it played in making this show such an enormous hit" and "the faith they showed in us over the years to develop it".

The BBC said: "Working with Love Productions, we have grown and nurtured the programme over seven series and created the huge hit it is today.

"We made a very strong offer to keep the show but we are a considerable distance apart on the money. The BBC's resources are not infinite."

Image caption,
Nancy Birtwhistle, who won the 2014 series, with fellow finalists Luis Troyano, left, and Richard Burr

Jo Wheatley, the Bake Off winner in 2011, said she did a poll on her social media accounts and "lots of people were really outraged that it's moving".

"My gut feeling was a bit of shock to begin with - 'oh no, how have the Beeb let that go?'.

"Now I've got my head around it I'm a little bit calmer."

John Whaite, winner of the 2012 show, told 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."

Image source, BBC/PA
Image caption,
Contestants are being put through their paces in the latest series

Flora Shedden, who competed in the 2015 show, tweeted: "Really sad to hear that the BBC has lost rights to Bake Off. Its success is down to format and aesthetic - commercialising will ruin that."

The Great British Bake Off has won a total of nine Bafta awards, with four of them being won through a public vote.

Image source, BBC/PA
Image caption,
Bakers on the show become household names while the series is running

Earlier this year it won at the National Television Awards in the category for Challenge Show, beating Bear Grylls: Mission Survive, Masterchef and The Apprentice.

It was announced in July that the show will get two Christmas specials later this year, with four bakers from previous series doing three seasonal challenges, replacing the Bake Off Masterclass programmes.

The show began on BBC Two in 2010 before moving to BBC One in 2014.

Bake Off also has a junior version, shown on CBBC.

Last year's Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain is lined up as one of the judges for the next children's series alongside chef and food writer Allegra McEvedy.

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