Channel 4’s chief creative officer Jay Hunt has defended her purchase of The Great British Bake Off, saying the broadcaster can “ensure that viewers can see it for years ahead”.
Hunt referred to the disintegrating relationship between Love Productions and the BBC, and intimated that the show would be safer at Channel 4 after its high-profile sale in September. “The case that was put to the board was that in the event that [Love Productions’] relations with the BBC broke down and that it came to market, there might be an opportunity for Channel 4. And that was with no talent attached,” she told The Times.
“This was the worst kept secret in British TV history. Relations were very strained between Love and the BBC and as a result of that, a lot of people, several non-free-to-air platforms, had also expressed interest in it. So we’ve been able to pick it up and maintain it on free-to-air and ensure that viewers can see it for years ahead. It’s a good outcome. I think we all move on now,” she said.
Hunt also dismissed rumours about Mel and Sue’s replacement: “We have literally not approached anybody. We’ve got time on our side here and I think it’s important for the audience that we get this right.”
Does she think that Bake Off is a good fit with Channel 4 and that audiences will come and find it there? “Yes, without a shadow of a doubt… A show that people love comes to Channel 4 and they continue to love it because it’s a precious thing. Formats that are as strong as that and are as beautifully made as that are precious. I want it to have a safe home here.”
Hunt did not risk predicting how many of the 13 million who watched last year’s finale would watch it on Channel 4, nor did she confirm whether the purchase price was indeed the reported £75 million.
News that Bake Off judge Mary Berry would not be moving to C4 with the show, following punster presenters Mel and Sue’s staunch refusal to “go with the dough”, was met with uproar last month – but Paul Hollywood, at least, rose to the occasion like a well-baked scouse sponge and signed with the show’s new home.
When asked whether it would have looked terrible if none of the talent had made the journey to Channel 4, Ms Hunt replied: “Yes.”