A war of words has erupted this afternoon between Channel 4 and the BBC after C4 initially scheduled its newly acquired Bake Off reboot directly against The Big Family Cooking Showdown on BBC2 when it returns on Tuesday 29th August at 8pm.
In a last minute effort to avoid a clash, the BBC moved its new culinary show presented by former Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain and Zoe Ball to Thursday from that week claiming it was “in the best interest of viewers” and “there is room for both and we don’t, in this instance, see any public value in two public service broadcasters going head to head in this way.”
“We will therefore move our show to Thursday in the best interest of viewers to avoid such a clash.”
Channel 4 appear to have been confident that Bake Off – which in its BBC incarnation was the most-watched show on TV in 2016 attracting more than 15m viewers – will still have all the right ingredients to see off BBC2’s new cookery show fronted by former GBBO winner Nadiya Hussain and Zoe Ball.
A C4 spokesperson responded by saying: “We made the decision about where to schedule The Great British Bake Off a few months after acquiring it and we haven’t moved it since then.
“It is in the original Tuesday evening slot where the majority of past series have played.”
The Bake Off, which began life on BBC2 in 2010 before moving to BBC1 in 2014, became front page news in September last year when it was announced Love Productions had agreed a three-year deal for the format with Channel 4 reportedly worth £75m. Shortly afterwards, judge Mary Berry and hosts Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins announced they would be leaving the show.
After much speculation, Channel 4 announced in March that Prue Leith would join returning judge Paul Hollywood on GBBO alongside new judging pairing Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding.
Despite BBC bosses insisting The Big Family Cooking Showdown was commissioned before Bake Off went to Channel 4 and that it’s not intended as a rival show, the programmes certainly have a similar subject and feel and with former Bake Off winner Nadiya fronting the BBC show it’s sure to continue drawing comparisons.
The Big Family Cooking Showdown launched last night on BBC2 with 1.7m viewers between 8pm and 9pm, slightly below the slot average of 2.1m. Although Channel 4 can’t expect their all-new Bake Off to hit the dizzy heights of 15m viewers (and occupy the top seven most-watched TV show slots as it did in 2016) they’ll certainly be hoping their big-money buy-in rises to the occasion in the ratings and attracts a significantly bigger audience in this slot than the BBC’s latest culinary creation could manage.
Ready, steady, cook…