Entertainment & Arts

BBC 'fell £10m short' of keeping The Great British Bake Off

Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc have presented the show since it began in 2010

The BBC fell £10m short of the amount of money required to keep The Great British Bake Off, BBC News understands.

The corporation is thought to have offered £15m per year to keep the programme on the BBC.

That would have been double the amount the BBC currently pays for the show and its sister programmes such as An Extra Slice and the Sport Relief specials.

But it is understood Love Productions refused to entertain any offers below £25m per year.

The show has now been bought by Channel 4, which will begin airing the programme in 2017, starting with a celebrity special in aid of Stand Up To Cancer.

A spokesman for Channel 4 said: "We have no plans to change the incredibly successful format of the show which is much loved by viewers."

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Media captionLord Grade says Channel 4 "shot itself very seriously in the foot" buying Bake Off

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

Richard McKerrow, Love Productions' creative director, said the firm had found "the perfect new home for Bake Off" at Channel 4.

It is not yet known whether the show's presenters and judges - Mel Giedroyc, Sue Perkins, Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood - will move with the show to its new home.

A spokesman for Channel 4 said: "We would be delighted if the presenters and judges want to come to Channel 4."

Image caption Nadiya Hussain won the last series of The Great British Bake Off

Former culture minister Ed Vaizey told BBC Radio 4's The World At One: "As a human being, I'm thoroughly depressed [about the move]. The Bake Off is the BBC, and having it on another channel is like having an Eton Mess without the fruit.

"But on a realistic level, I've always thought that given the BBC's position of being able to fund programmes and take risks, it should actually be seen as a natural thing that after a series has been on the BBC for a while, it might go to other channels where perhaps there is less opportunity to invest big in starting a series and seeing if it works."

The shows and presenters that have swapped channels

  • The Great British Bake Off - BBC to Channel 4 (2016)
  • British Horse Racing - BBC to Channel 4 (2017)
  • The Voice - BBC to ITV (2017)
  • Formula One - BBC to Channel 4 (2016)
  • Birds of a Feather - BBC to ITV (2014)
  • Big Brother - Channel 4 to Channel 5 (2011)
  • Jonathan Ross - BBC to ITV (2011)
  • Christine Bleakley & Adrian Chiles - BBC to ITV (2010)
  • Neighbours - BBC to Channel 5 (2007)
  • Graham Norton - Channel 4 to BBC (2005)
  • University Challenge - ITV to BBC (1994)

Michael Grade, who has previously worked as chairman of the BBC and ITV as well as head of BBC One and Channel 4, said: "I think Channel 4 have completely undermined their case against privatisation.

"It has been arguing very strongly for the last year or so against privatisation, putting up an argument that says its remit is to cater for tastes and interests not catered for on other channels and being different and innovating.

"But it has just splashed out on a show that really belongs to the BBC."

'Massive win'

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.

The seventh series is currently being shown on BBC One on Wednesday evenings. More than 10 million tuned in for the opening episode.

Scott Bryan, TV editor of Buzzfeed UK said: "You can't find any bigger a slot or do any better in terms of viewers than where it already is - on BBC One in a main teatime evening slot.

"Channel 4 would be monumentally thrilled with the idea that they have the same ratings that it has on BBC.

"I feel they would be equally happy if it got a few million less, because that would still be a few million more than another programme they would have on that slot, so it's still a massive win for them."

Image copyright BBC/PA
Image caption Bakers on the show become household names when the show is running

It is not yet clear what time slot the show will have on Channel 4 or whether it will be cut or extended in length.

"A lot of viewers have been asking if it will be reduced to 42 minutes long with 18 minutes of adverts, or could be extended to one hour and 20 minutes long to make room for advertising," Bryan said.

"I don't think they could squeeze everything that happens in an hour into 40 minutes. They could take some things out, like the history bits or some analysis, but they would still have to cut a challenge or scale one of them down quite significantly.

"I thought Channel 4 might extend the programme but at the same time, that is a seriously long programme for Channel 4 for a show about baking."

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, as well as a sister show, An Extra Slice.

The format has been sold to broadcasters around the world, with France, Brazil, Australia, Ukraine, Denmark, India and Turkey all showing their own versions of the show.

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