The BBC looks to be close to agreeing a deal for new series of Bake Off, effectively rebuffing a big money swoop from ITV.
The Corporation is poised to sign a deal with producers Love Productions after judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood stepped in, according to the Sunday Mirror.
The pair reportedly told producers they were not happy with a potential move to ITV which could have damaged the hugely successful series.
Consequently the BBC is said to be close to agreeing a higher fee to secure the show for a further three years. However the £15m deal would be much less than that £21m allegedly offered by ITV over the same period.
Earlier this year, Hollywood made it clear he wanted the show to stay with the BBC: “It’s not up to us, it’s up to the production company, but as far as Mary, Mel, Sue and myself are concerned we want to stay on the BBC.”
The fear of potentially having Bake Off without its two main judges is said to have persuaded Love Productions to stick with the BBC.
Also, the terms of the current deal included a so-called “cooling off clause” which would have meant that the show would have had to be off air for a year if it moved from the BBC.
The show, hosted by Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, started its seventh series on Wednesday and, at its peak, was watched by more than 11 million viewers.
However, as RadioTimes.com reported in June, its future as a BBC show was in jeopardy after Love and the BBC struggled to strike a deal.
Love – which is 70% owned by Sky – was reportedly asking for more money for the format from the already cash-strapped BBC. However it is not understood to have held formal talks with ITV.
Love’s other programming deals with the BBC, which include The Great British Sewing Bee and The Great Pottery Throw Down, were also said to be at risk.
According to ITV sources, the network’s programmes boss Kevin Lygo made no secret of his wish to snap up Bake Off, telling industry associates at the Edinburgh Television Festival that he believed it could work on another channel.
He also made it clear that finding a hit cookery show was among his top priorities.
At the Edinburgh TV Festival he pointedly refused to speak about his interest in the show. Asked what he thought about a move in a panel session he deflected the question with a joke.
“I prefer EastEnders,” he smiled.
Now, if he can get the BBC’s flagship soap onto ITV, that really would be a story…
The BBC declined to comment on the claims and on what it said were “confidential negotiations”.