Prue Leith’s name is on a shortlist to take over from Mary Berry as Paul Hollywood’s fellow judge when The Great British Bake Off moves to Channel 4 – but it’s not yet a done deal, with other cooking stars still in the mix.
“She’s been shortlisted, she’s part of the process,” a source close to the former Great British Menu judge told RadioTimes.com, “but she hasn’t had the OK from Channel 4, so as far as we’re concerned it’s not confirmed.
“She’s definitely part of it – as are quite a few others.”
Other stars rumoured to be on the shortlist include TV chefs Michel Roux Jr and Rachel Allen, and Frances Atkins, who heads up the Michelin-starred Yorke Arms.
Leith’s name has become connected to the show just this week, but the source said she had been involved in the process to identify a new judge for some time and had simply not been spotted by press photographers when she went to audition.
“She just slipped under the radar initially. When everybody was [photographed] going to do a test, they just obviously didn’t [spot her] the day she went. So it’s come as a surprise, but it’s been going on for a while.”
On the surface, Leith, 76, and Mary Berry, 81, have much in common – the two friends both have extensive television experience, have written acclaimed cook books and have helped generations of Brits improve their culinary skills (Leith via her famous cookery school) – but asked if Leith would be a good like-for-like replacement for Berry, the source said the pair are “very different personalities”.
“They’re very different personalities. They’re chums – they’re great chums – but they are different personalities.”
Certainly, Leith is also known as the author of some rather racy novels – although the innuendo-prone Mary Berry is not exactly without a glint in her eye either.
Whether viewers will get the chance to see Leith’s personality shine on a new series of The Great British Bake Off remains to be seen.
A spokesperson for the show told RadioTimes.com “We will be announcing the line up of The Great British Bake Off in due course”.