Channel 4 boss wants at least 3 million people to watch first Great British Bake Off

Jay Hunt indicates what the channel needs to "break even"

Bake off fielding and leith

Channel 4 has revealed its ratings aims for the first episode of The Great British Bake Off, which starts on Tuesday. Outgoing chief creative officer Jay Hunt today suggested the show needs to get more than 3m in order to justify the £75m price that the channel paid.

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Speaking at the Edinburgh Television Festival, she said: “If it gets 5, 6, 7 [million] I would be absolutely delighted. Let me clear that this show breaks even at around 3m so anything north of that would be fantastic.”

The last series on BBC1 averaged just over 10m on the overnights, consolidating to an average of just over 13m according to figures from ratings body Barb.

Channel 4 bosses are privately hopeful that it will perform better than 3m given the positive critical reception to a preview screening earlier this week, but they don’t expect it to match the figures on the BBC. To get even 3m it will have to outperform the C4 ratings slot average for Tuesday at 8pm – which is just over 1m – but bosses are quietly confident that it will.

In her address to delegates, Hunt also said that she was the first to suggest Noel Fielding for a presenting role, partly because she was impressed with his appeal to very young people.

“It was me who suggested Noel. It goes back a long way to a little show we did for E4 called Luxury Comedy…. The comedy team got a lovely letter from a 7-year-old girl …who absolutely adored it.

“It really stayed with me that he has this ability to communicate with children as well.

“There is something childlike in the way that he comes across. Something magical has happened with Sandi and Noel…there’s a rather charming dynamic that’s emerging.”

She also dismissed as “comedic” complaints from former Channel 4 chief executive Michael Grade that the channel’s remit did not involve poaching BBC hits like Bake Off.

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Hunt said that Grade knew “all too well” that the Channel needed to “get money through the door to pay for [other] public service delivery”.