Sue Perkins: I nearly quit Bake Off before it went to Channel 4

The former Great British Bake Off presenter says a humbling experience in Tibet made her question her future on the show even before its move to Channel 4


The Great British Bake Off’s former host Sue Perkins has said she nearly quit the show before it moved to Channel 4.


The comedian and presenter told Kirsty Young on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs that a meeting with people living a simple life in remote Tibet for a 2014 BBC2 travel show forced her to question her involvement on the programme.

“There was one point where I did think, ‘Can I do this forever?’,” she said in the interview, set to air on Sunday 9th July. “Four days before I came into the Bake Off tent I had been with [a] family of the Mekong in Tibet; they had no electricity and no running water and they would have Yak butter and barley and that is all they ate and they would meditate and be in bed by six.

“And four days later I was in a tent where somebody was crying because they couldn’t find the packet of marron glacé and I did think, ‘How can I rationalise these two worlds?’”

The travel trip in question took place for her 2014 documentary The Mekong River with Sue Perkins, in which she took a 3,000 mile journey along the famous waterway.

However, she said that, despite her doubts in 2014, she would probably have carried on presenting the show with Mel Giedroyc if it hadn’t moved to Channel 4.

“I would have carried on doing it I think, it was a really sweet show, I loved doing it,” she told Kirsty Young.

She said that her reason to leave was “a complicated brew…there were lots of things going on” and joked: “We were running out of puns…there’s only so many in the tank. We had a Croatian bun and I announced really loudly that it had split and I thought we had sunk to the very very bottom of what is possible. Every bap pun, every Hungarian ring pun had been mined and mined and mined.”

She added: “But I I miss it and I also wish it well. There is no point in rancour.”

Perkins told Kirsty Young that she didn’t even need to ask co-presenter Mel Giedroyc about whether they should quit when it moved from the BBC: “I didn’t need to ask. I knew what she was going to do. It was how we were going to do it.”

In her interview she discussed “the very dark time” of her widely chronicled brain tumour diagnosis and the difficulty of being told that she would not be able to have children.

She also detailed her self-destructive response to the tumour and the difficulties of her own father’s diagnosis with a malign brain tumour at around the same time.

She added that she expected she and Giedroyc will be making another TV show soon. “I’m very hopeful Mel and I will do some prattling about… possibly primetime prattling.”

As for her record choices, they included the songs How Soon is Now? by The Smiths, Northern Sky by Nick Drake and Rock Island Line by Lonnie Donegan.

Her book choice was a tome that has not been written – How to Clone a Dog – and her luxury was a tuft of hair from her “naughty ex-Beagle Pickle” suggesting that her mission on the fictional desert island would be to somehow recreate a living version of the much-loved pet.


Desert Island Discs with Sue Perkins is on BBC Radio 4 on Sunday at 11.15am