Channel 4’s programmes boss Jay Hunt has made a public defence of her acquisition of The Great British Bake Off assuring fans that the show will stay “just as it is”.
The chief creative officer pledged to give the programme “a safe home” and said that she bought the BBC1 show to stop satellite broadcasters acquiring it and potentially putting it behind a paywall.
“The BBC and Love Productions grew Bake Off from a quaint idea into a global hit,” she has written in today’s Telegraph. “But when they were unable to reach agreement on future series, Bake Off risked coming off free to air television altogether.”
“Great British Bake Off will have a safe home,” she added of the rumoured £75m three-year deal which has come in for criticism for being an excessively commercial move from a public service broadcaster with a mission to innovate.
“The show of soggy bottoms and good crumb will be made by exactly the same team who have always made it,” added Hunt. “We love it just as it is. And for an amateur baker like me, that’s a real cause for celebration.”
Hunt did not give any indication of when the first full series would air or who would present it – only a celebrity edition has been confirmed for next year. And she did not comment on the decision by presenters Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins to quit the show which sources have told RadioTimes.com has taken the channel aback.
But Hunt, a former BBC1 controller herself, defended the commercial nature of the move to swoop for a show which is “a huge hit, not just here but globally” and which is likely to bring in commercial revenue for the channel.
“From its inception, Channel 4 has cross subsidised to ensure the shows that deliver ratings and revenue support the shows that deliver our remit.
“From The Simpsons to Sex in the City, Big Brother to Desperate Housewives, Channel 4 has backed commercial programming to allow it to invest in innovation.
“It will support our commitment to great foreign current affairs with Unreported World and domestic undercover investigation with Dispatches and Channel 4 News. And it’ll allow us to maintain our support for the Paralympics.”
She added: “We’ve got a good track record on protecting and growing the shows viewers love – from Jamie Oliver to Formula One, we’ve given great talent who’ve left the BBC the opportunity to thrive here.
“Bake Off wasn’t created by 4 but it epitomises many of the values we were set up to promote. It’s high quality. Diverse. Inspiring. All attributes Channel 4 is tasked with delivering.”