From the BBC to Channel 4: a year of Bake Off drama
From the show jumping channels to the new line-up, it’s been a busy 12 months for Bake Off.
The Great British Bake Off’s shock move from BBC One to Channel 4 after it was sold to the highest bidder by production company Love Productions last September is a television story that has continued to run.
From the sudden announcement that the show would be jumping ship, to three quarters of its stars quitting in the upheaval, it seems the drama behind the popular baking programme has yet to end.
The BBC has now condemned Channel 4’s decision to air its first series of the Bake Off on Tuesdays from August 29 as it directly clashes with BBC Two’s The Big Family Cooking Showdown.
Here is a look at the timeline of events that saw the heat rise on the amateur baking competition, from then to now.
:: September 12, 2016 – The BBC announces it has lost its contract to broadcast The Great British Bake Off because it can no longer afford it, with programme makers Love Productions rumoured to be looking at a move to a different channel for more cash.
A spokesman said: “The BBC’s resources are not infinite. GBBO is a quintessentially BBC programme.
“We hope Love Productions change their mind so that Bake Off can stay ad-free on BBC One.”
Later that day it is revealed that Channel 4 has won the contract, with Richard McKerrow of Love Productions saying: “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.”
:: September 13, 2016 – Presenters Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins confirm they will bow out after this series, making no secret of their disappointment at the move.
They say they are “very shocked and saddened” to learn of the news that Bake Off is moving from “its home”.
“We made no secret of our desire for the show to remain where it was.”
“The BBC nurtured the show from its infancy and helped give it its distinctive warmth and charm, growing it from an audience of two million to nearly 15 at its peak.
“We’ve had the most amazing time on Bake Off, and have loved seeing it rise and rise like a pair of yeasted Latvian baps.
“We’re not going with the dough. We wish all the future bakers every success.”
Speculation begins on who the new stars will be, with Extra Slice presenter Jo Brand’s name touted.
:: September 15, 2016 – Channel 4’s chief creative officer Jay Hunt insists the Bake Off is secure, telling the Daily Telegraph: “Great British Bake Off will have a safe home.
“The show of soggy bottoms and good crumb will be made by exactly the same team who have always made it.
“We love it just as it is.”
:: September 22, 2016 – Judge Mary Berry announces that she too will be leaving the programme before its move.
She says: “What a privilege and honour it has been to be part of seven years of magic in a tent – The Great British Bake Off. The Bake Off family – Paul, Mel and Sue have given me so much joy and laughter.”
Berry says her decision to stay with the BBC is due to her “loyalty to them”, and that she is “sad for the audience who may not be ready for change”.
Shortly afterwards, Paul Hollywood says he will be sticking with the series.
He says in a statement: “I am delighted that I will be continuing as a judge when Bake Off moves to Channel 4.
“I want to thank the BBC and Mel and Sue for making my time in the tent great fun and really rewarding.”
:: September 25, 2016 – MPs say they will investigate the controversial sell off.
Damian Collins, acting chairman of the culture, media and sport select committee, tells the Daily Telegraph: “We will have the BBC and Channel 4 in front of the committee and Bake Off is definitely something that we will ask about when they next appear.”
:: September 27, 2016 – Various TV stars and celebrity fans have voiced their concern at the Bake Off move, and Lord Sugar adds his thoughts, telling the Radio Times: “I think it’s going to be a total disaster.”
He says: “Because (the BBC) make something successful like Bake Off or The Voice, then suddenly a commercial channel comes along and just goes and buys it off them, and greedy production companies sell it to them.
“I don’t find that morally correct.”
:: October 3, 2016 – Despite the chaos of the move, The Great British Bake Off wins the top five spots for the most watched TV programmes of the year so far, showing it is still a hit with fans.
:: October 26, 2016 – The Great British Bake Off airs its official series for the last time on the BBC with the final episode of series seven, with Candice Brown winning the title.
:: December 25 and 26, 2016 – The Great British Bake Off finally bows out with two Christmas specials, much to the delight of fans, as former contestants return to the tent to battle it out.
The festive episodes see Mary-Anne Boermans and Chetna Makan crowned the last ever winners of the show on the BBC.
:: January 17, 2017 – BBC unitary board chairman Sir David Clementi says he would be “disappointed” to see the corporation attempt to reproduce The Great British Bake Off, despite being a fan of the show.
He says it would be “wrong” to create such a programme if it was “precisely similar, but I don’t think that’s intended”.
:: January 25, 2017 – Berry wins the TV judge prize for the last possible time for the Great British Bake Off at the National TV Awards, fending off competition from Strictly Come Dancing’s Len Goodman among others.
:: February 2, 2017 – Former Great British Menu judge Prue Leith is tipped to be taking over from Berry as a judge alongside Hollywood.
Channel 4 say a decision has not yet been made but that it will be announced “in due course”.
:: February 22, 2017 – Bookmakers, including William Hill, begin to shut down betting on Leith taking over from Berry as a judge as speculation mounts over her position.
TV chooks including Nigella Lawson, Delia Smith, Lorraine Pascale and former Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain are all cited as possible new judges for the show.
:: February 26, 2017 – Mel and Sue say it was time for them to leave the programme as they were running out of their trademark baking puns.
Giedroyc tells the Daily Mail: “Seven years of making puns about cobs, baps, meringues… To be honest, we’d started to recycle some.”
:: March 13, 2017 – Leith tells the Press Association that the rumours about her joining the show are “complete nonsense”, and that she does not know yet if she has the job.
She says she has not signed a contract but that she would “hope to have it” because “there’s not a cook in the country who doesn’t want to do that job.”
:: March 16, 2017 – Leith is confirmed to be the new Great British Bake Off judge, along with new presenters Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding.
Fans of the show are torn over the announcement, with many unconvinced the presenters in particular would match up to Mel and Sue.
Toksvig says she is honoured to be part of the “national treasure of a show”, and Fielding adds that it is one of his “favourite shows”.
Hollywood praises Leith, Toksvig and Fielding and says he “could not be more delighted” about the new signings.
:: March 25, 2017 – Following early rumours of clashes between the new colleagues, Hollywood and Fielding meet up for a night out.
:: April 16, 2017 – Great British Bake Off champion Brown gives her backing to Leith as a judge, telling Fabulous magazine that she thinks she will be “amazing”.
:: April 20, 2017 – Channel 4 says the new series will broadcast in 75-minute episodes when it returns to screens.
It is also confirmed that comedian Brand will return to host spin-off programme An Extra Slice, which formerly aired on BBC Two.
:: April 26, 2017 – The BBC denies that its newly announced show The Big Family Cooking Showdown, starring former winner Hussain, has been designed to compete with The Great British Bake Off.
Patrick Holland, BBC Two’s controller, says: “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.”
:: July 12, 2017 – Channel 4’s Hunt says she is “quietly confident” about the new series, and that it has a “new tone” and will “feel modern” to viewers when it airs.
She says she hopes viewers will find that “this is Bake Off but with an extraordinary, high calibre of contributors and it’s got a slight Channel 4 feel to it.
“We’ve got a new tone to it, it’s got a new comic riff to it. I think that feels modern and future facing. I think it’s a show that people will love with a Channel 4 spin.”
:: August 3, 2017 – The first trailer for Channel 4’s The Great British Bake Off is released, a quirky clip featuring an assortment of pastries and cakes singing along to Paul McCartney and the Frog Chorus’s We All Stand Together.
Fans are divided over the advertisement, with many saying that its surreal edge is influenced by The Mighty Boosh star Fielding’s involvement.
:: August 16, 2016 – Channel 4 confirms that the new series of The Great British Bake Off will debut on Tuesday August 29 at 8pm.
The BBC then announces it will move the air date of BBC Two’s The Big Family Cooking Showdown to avoid the direct scheduling clash.
The BBC says in a statement: “Channel 4’s decision to move Bake Off from its long-term traditional Wednesday slot will be a surprise to many viewers who may see this as a cynical move.
“We never intended for our new cookery show to clash with theirs. There is room for both and we don’t, in this instance, see any public value in two public service broadcasters going head to head in this way.
“We will therefore move our show to Thursday in the best interest of viewers to avoid such a clash.”