Channel 4 is preparing a “modern” Great British Bake Off free of the old-school innuendo and soggy bottom jokes that were familiar to fans of its BBC1 incarnation.
Speaking at today’s Channel 4 annual report, the broadcaster’s chief creative officer Jay Hunt said that she was “quietly confident “ about The Great British Bake Off’s new look, which is due to start airing in autumn after its high-profile move from BBC1.
She described it as “modern” in its approach and strongly suggested that the show was going to eschew its use of innuendo-laden jokes favoured by former presenters Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins.
“I have seen the first episode and the first thing you think is that this is Bake Off but with an extraordinarily high calibre of contributors but with a slight Channel 4 feel to it,” she said.
“It’s got a new tone to it; it’s got a new comic riff to it and I think that feels modern and future-facing. So it’s a show that a lot of people love but with a slight Channel 4 spin which is exactly what I hoped it would be.
“The calibre of baking this year is absolutely jaw dropping,” she added. “I have seen the first episode and I am quietly confident.”
Hunt declined to suggest a target audience figure for the show, which attracted up to 10 million viewers on BBC1, but suggested that she hoped to attract existing fans of the show and new followers.
Journalists were shown a clip of the new-look show featuring the new line-up of judges Paul Hollywood, Prue Leith and presenters Noel Fielding and Sandi Toksvig.
In the clip, Fielding was shown delivering bad news to an unlucky baker and telling them that they were going to exit – a role one show insider said he has found “difficult” during filming.
Hunt denied rumours about problems within the new line-up, saying that the “chemistry is fantastic” within the team.
“I was down in the tent a few weeks ago, pretty much the whole day,” she said. “Chemistry is hard to achieve in television, and there was natural warmth and they worked really well together.”
On viewing figures she added: “There will be some decline as there is when shows move to new channels. But you see it and you say, ‘this is Bake Off’.”
“Critically,” she added, “Bake Off is mostly about the bakers, and the striking thing this year is the sheer calibre of the bakers and what they are pulling off.”
A production source said that the C4 management was pleased with the way the programme was going but suggested that there would be fewer innuendo-laden jokes about soggy bottoms.
“Noel has a warmth about him which we have been pleased with and Sandi is charming,” said the source. “There are no soggy bottom jokes on the first show.
“The show is modern in terms of its comic take and a lot of the humour will come from Noel’s surreal twists. We were delighted when we announced the team to see people on Facebook who were Noel fans saying they would watch the show when they hadn’t seen it before.”
The source added that the quality of the baking on the show could be higher than it was on BBC1.
Channel 4 is understood to have found a commercial sponsor for the show, but declined to reveal its identity.
At the annual report the broadcaster reiterated its opposition to the proposed relocation of the broadcaster’s premises outside London.
Chairman David Gurassa said that the move would require primary Parliamentary legislation and said that the board and the management would oppose the move, which was in the Conservative Party’s manifesto for the last election but which many experts believe would not be pursued by the government after its majority was cut.
He said the broadcaster was keen to pursue regional investment in an “intelligent, meaningful and sustainable way”.
Gurassa also defended a slight increase in executive pay set against a slight decrease in the channel’s overall share of viewers in 2016.
On Desert Island Discs on Sunday, former Great British Bake Off presenter Sue Perkins said that she thought that the innuendo-laded humour had already run its course when it was on the BBC.
She said: “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.”