Belfast Telegraph

BBC's new cooking show planned before Bake Off went to C4, controller claims

The Big Family Cooking Showdown was commissioned before Bake Off’s surprise move.

The BBC has denied its new cookery show has been designed to compete with The Great British Bake Off.

The Big Family Cooking Showdown, featuring Nadiya Hussain and Zoe Ball, was announced after Bake Off was poached by Channel 4.

But Patrick Holland, BBC2′s new controller, said the show had been commissioned before the hit show’s surprise move.

Speaking following the unveiling of BBC2′s spring/summer schedule, he said: “You can’t commission shows thinking, ‘oh that’s going to be a massive hit’.

“It was commissioned before Bake Off went to Channel 4. It was one of the first things I did.”

The Big Family Cooking Showdown will pit 16 families from around the UK against each other with challenges set in their kitchens at home and at the programme’s studio.

While not ruling out scheduling against Bake Off, Mr Holland said that the former BBC1 series – set to feature Prue Leith, Paul Hollywood, Noel Fielding and Sandi Toksvig on Channel 4 – would not come into the decision.

“Scheduling decisions are made closer to the time. Bake Off is not part of my thinking or the scheduling team’s thinking,” he said.

“You want to play something to get the best audience. There’s no sense of one particular show dominating our thinking.

“It’s amazing if anything becomes a big hit. But programmes grow. You don’t commission programmes thinking they’re going to be a big hit. The reason why you commission a show like that is because it was a great idea.”

He added: “There’s a dynamic in families which share food heritage in a way that we haven’t seen on television before in a competitive format.

“You’re celebrating family food and the role that food plays in people’s lives. It felt tremendously modern and traditional at the same time.

“It felt like something very, very different. It’s a completely different tone for the channel, different to any cooking shows we’ve done on the channel.”

Nadiya was crowned Bake Off winner in 2015.

Love Productions sold Bake Off to Channel 4 after seven series on the BBC.

Bake Off stalwart Mary Berry and presenters Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins decided to leave the series following its move.

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