Take heart Great British Bake Off fans: the BBC say it is almost certain that Mary Berry will be reunited with her Bake Off colleagues Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins on a new BBC project.
Top level sources have confirmed that the BBC is “actively engaged” in pursuing programme ideas featuring the three of them following their high-profile defection from The Great British Bake Off, after the format was bought up by Channel 4.
A source said it would “be folly” to “rule out” the three working together and added: “In fact it is even highly likely. It won’t be announced soon but a new baking or cookery show with them is almost certainly going to happen.”
On Wednesday, lawyer and intellectual property expert Piers Strickland suggested that a BBC baking show featuring Mel and Sue would be feasible.
The expert in TV format rights wrote: “Love Productions do not hold monopoly rights over the overall concept of a televised bakery competition.”
The claims follow a statement by BBC content boss Charlotte Moore announcing this week that the BBC is aiming to “cook up more unmissable shows with [Berry] in the future”.
The BBC believes it has won the Bake Off propaganda battle, after Channel 4 only managed to secure the services of Paul Hollywood – who has agreed to a three-year deal to appear in the new Bake Off when it moves to C4.
“If our relationship with the show was so bad, how come all but one of the presenters want to stay with us?” said a source. “They have bought the recipe but without buying the cake.”
Berry said that she was staying with the BBC “out of loyalty to them, as they have nurtured me, and the show, that was a unique and brilliant format from day one”.
The BBC is also keen to pour cold water on reports that Paul Hollywood was offered a presenting role on Top Gear in a bid to lure him to stay with the Corporation.
Added the source: “We did talk to him but the talks were about whether he, as a motoring enthusiast, would want to come on the show, with a couple of appearances discussed. There was no suggestion of him presenting alongside Matt Le Blanc or anything like that.”
Meanwhile Channel 4 is in the process of finding Hollywood’s co-stars on the new Bake Off, with Gok Wan and Alan Carr being suggested names to fill the Mel and Sue role.
It is understood that Mary Berry did not hold direct talks with Channel 4 about a move to the broadcaster, but that her agent did speak to C4 executives.
“There was never really any chance of Mary going to C4,” said another source familiar with the negotiations.