Channel 4 “in talks” with Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood
Any deal to secure the Bake Off judges for the C4 version of the show is likely to take “weeks rather than days” say sources
Channel 4 executives have opened talks with Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood in a bid to lure them from the BBC to front The Great British Bake Off when it transfers to C4 next year.
Execs are understood to have spoken with the duo over striking a new deal, although the success of the discussions is likely to hinge on a number of factors.
C4 bosses are said to have been rocked by the decision of presenters Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc to quit the show on Tuesday and the identity of their replacements is understood to be a critical factor in persuading Berry and Hollywood to stick with the show.
"We're talking about a range of things including the overall shape of the presenting team," said a source. "However we will not be announcing the new presenting line-up for a while – it is likely to be weeks rather than days."
Money will also be a factor and it is thought that the salaries for the duo will come out of the fee or tariff paid by Channel 4 to producers Love Productions as part of their three-year deal. This is understood to be around £25m per series.
However, Channel 4 will also be involved in discussions over the salaries.
The broadcaster is still waiting to see if the BBC will enforce a "cooling off" clause in its contract which would mean that a full series cannot air until 2018. As RadioTimes.com reported on Tuesday, BBC sources have suggested that this will not happen.
C4 is also understood to be keen to quash rumours that it has fallen out with Giedroyc and Perkins over their decision to quit the show.
A channel source said C4 respected their decision, which was made without speaking to the broadcaster.
It has been rumoured within the industry that Channel 4’s chief creative officer Jay Hunt has decided to blacklist the pair from future projects, a claim which the channel vehemently denies.
Meanwhile, it is understood that the BBC is also keen to keep the services of Berry and Hollywood with a number of programme proposals of their own, which are thought to have been put to the stars' agents.