When does The Great British Bake Off start on Channel 4? Plus, could Linda Evans replace Mary Berry?
As the memory of the series seven final begins to fade away, Great British Bake Off fans are already looking ahead to the show’s uncertain future.
In September, the programme’s creators Love Productions revealed that Bake Off would be moving to Channel 4, after the BBC were unable to match their rival broadcaster’s bid (a reported £75 million).
But Channel 4 soon had a few reasons to regret the purchase: presenters Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc said they would not be moving to Channel 4, while expert baker Mary Berry followed suit shortly afterwards, leaving Paul Hollywood as the sole remaining member of the show’s core team.
What will Channel 4 do with the format?
As yet, it’s unclear, but the channel will almost certainly try to make the most out of the Bake Off brand. “There will be all sorts of stuff like ‘8 Out Of 10 Cats does Bake Off’ to squeeze more value from it,” one TV executive told the Guardian.
One option would be to produce more seasonal specials with sole remaining Bake Off stalwart Paul Hollywood, along similar lines to the BBC’s planned Bake Off Christmas specials. Come 2018, viewers may be treated to ‘The Great British Bake Off’s Edible Easter’, or ‘The Creepy British Bake Off: Paul’s Halloween Bites’.
When will The Great British Bake Off start on Channel 4?
No broadcast date has yet been announced for the new series. However, under the terms of Love Productions’ contract with the BBC, the producers could be barred from broadcasting the show on another channel for 12 months after the last BBC episode.
Channel 4 are said to be unhappy with the situation, and are reportedly trying to re-negotiate the arrangement, but as the contract currently stands a 2017 series of Bake Off looks unlikely.
The BBC already have two festival specials recorded for Christmas 2017, which would mean the earliest the show could appear on Channel 4 would be around January 2018.
What’s next for Mel, Sue and Mary?
The BBC are understood to be preparing a new rival to Channel 4’s Bake Off, reuniting the old team of Giedroyc, Perkins and Berry, which could hit our screens before the next series of the baking show.
“We could probably get a show out before Channel 4, if we chose to do so,” the BBC said, in a statement to the Guardian.
One option could be a gardening programme: “It may not be baking, you never know, it could be gardening,” Berry told Chris Evans on BBC Radio 2 this week. “I’m a very keen gardener you know.”
However, Berry is adamant that any plans for a rival show are still up in the air. “We have made no decisions whatsoever,” she said. “We haven’t actually all three got together, but we will do something because we’re good pals, and who knows what it would be?”
One thing’s for sure: we’ll be seeing plenty more of Berry in future. According to her agent, she “has absolutely no plans to retire,” while a BBC source said: “Mary is a priority for the BBC, as long as the sun shines.”
The Sun recently reported that a “source” reckons Richard Ayoade of The IT Crowd is being considered for the role of Bake Off presenter. The writer, director and comic actor already has a good track record with Channel 4, currently appearing as the presenter of their show Travel Man: 24 Hours In…
Ayoade “certainly has the right dry sense of humour for the show,” wrote Telegraph critic Catherine Gee, “though he might lack some of the warmth that Mel and Sue have in spades,” given his socially awkward and unemotional comic persona.
Earlier this month, there were murmurs that Channel 4 were considering Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders as replacements for Mel and Sue, but the channel have since denied the rumours.
Meanwhile, 73-year-old actress Linda Evans fancies her chances as a possible replacement for Mary Berry, the Sun has claimed. An anonymous source told the paper: “Linda is a massive baking fan and is open to the idea. Following Mary is a tough act but she’s a huge name and a TV legend in her own right. She gets asked to do a lot of things but refuses most, but this is something that has caught her eye.”
The American actress would be a surprising choice, given the show’s former all-British presenting line-up, but the Dynasty certainly has plenty of fans. However, putting an amateur baker in Berry’s place would seriously change the dynamic of the show, leaving Hollywood as the only expert on the show. The public may be fond of Evans, but would they trust her verdict on a soggy bottom?
Why are the government getting involved?
A panel of MPs will quiz Channel 4 about their decision to buy Bake Off, over concerns that the move was not in keeping with the state-owned broadcaster’s strict remit, which requires the channel to show “innovation, experiment and creativity” and “a distinctive character”.
“They have essentially poached a show which is very successful from another public service broadcaster, and at some considerable cost,” said former Culture Secretary John Whittingdale. “It does raise some questions about whether or not it is appropriate.”
Damian Collins, acting chairman of the culture, media and sport select committee told The Telegraph: “We will have the BBC and Channel 4 in front of the committee and Bake Off is definitely something that we will ask about when they next appear.”
However, Channel 4’s chief creative officer Jay Hunt defended the decision, arguing that the broadcaster has always “cross subsidised,” using commerical hits like Bake Off to fund more innovative programming:
“[Bake Off] will allow us to produce more risk-taking drama like Wolf Hall director Peter Kosminsky’s thrilling mini-series on British recruits joining ISIS or ambitious factual like our recreation of Captain Bligh’s 4000-mile journey across the Pacific,” she wrote in the Telegraph.