Mary Berry quits the Great British Bake Off out of ‘loyalty’ to BBC as Paul Hollywood signs deal with Channel 4

Hollywood will stay with the show for at least three series when it moves channel next year

Jess Denham
Thursday 22 September 2016 10:08
Mary Berry quits The Great British Bake Off

The news that Mary Berry will not be staying with The Great British Bake Off when it moves to Channel 4 next year has sparked rumours that the BBC could be plotting to launch a rival show.

Berry quit the hugely popular baking show on Thursday morning after deciding to stay with the BBC out of “loyalty” while her co-judge, Paul Hollywood, has signed a deal to continue for at least three series.

Berry, 81, follows hosts Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins out of the programme, with the latter duo the first to reveal last week that they will be leaving rather than “going with the dough”.

Berry, who has been judging the show since 2010, said in a statement: “What a privilege and honour it has been to be part of 7 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.

“My decision to stay with the BBC is out of loyalty to them, as they have nurtured me, and the show, that was a unique and brilliant format from day one. I am just sad for the audience who may not be ready for change, I hope they understand my decision.

“I wish the programme, crew and future bakers every possible success and I am so very sad not to be a part of it.

“Farewell to soggy bottoms.”

But it was an additional statement from Charlotte Moore, director of content at the BBC, that hinted at upcoming shows with Berry. “Mary is an extraordinary woman, loved and adored by the British public, and the BBC is her natural home,” she said. “I’ve been very lucky to have had the pleasure of working with Mary over the last seven years and I’m so pleased that relationship will continue. She is an inspiration to generations, a real icon and I can’t wait to cook up more unmissable shows with her in the future.”

As of yet there has been no indication as to what programmes might be in the BBC’s mixing bowl, but although various reports have suggested that Simon Cowell has already pitched a new rival idea to the broadcaster.

Hollywood was spotted rushing from a blacked-out car into Channel 4’s offices for a “secret meeting” just hours before Berry announced her departure. He also released a statement thanking Channel 4, along with Mel and Sue, but – surprisingly – not Berry, only to thank her later on Twitter after a backlash from fans.

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His statement reads: “Since I was a kid, baking has been part of my life. The seven series inside the tent have created some great memories. Best of all, I have felt so pleased to experience other people getting the baking bug, just as I did when my dad helped me make my first loaf.

“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.”

Love Productions announced that the Bake Off was to move to Channel 4 last week, after the BBC lost its rights to the most watched programme of 2015.

Numerous meetings were not enough to save the BBC’s partnership with the production company, which cited concerns over the broadcaster’s valuation of the show, as well as the development of the brand.

In a statement shortly after the news broke, Channel 4 said: “Channel 4 will become the new home of The Great British Bake Off after signing a new three-year agreement with the producers of the hit show, Love Productions.

“Under the new creative partnership the multi-award winning show will remain on free-to-air television.

“The first Bake Off programming planned to broadcast on Channel 4 will be a celebrity version of the show in 2017, in aid of Stand Up to Cancer.”

Some 15.1 million people watched Nadiya Hussain claim victory in last year’s sixth series, with Candice Brown the current favourite to win this year.

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