The Great British Sell Off

Alarming news for the legions of Great British Bake Off fans as the BBC have lost the contract to broadcast the baking behemoth. The series now on tv will be the last to be broadcast on BBC1.

Channel 4 announced last night that it has signed a three-year deal with Love Productions. The first programme, a celebrity version for the charity Stand Up To Cancer, will come in 2017.

Love Productions said negotiations with the BBC had been prolonged to say the least – taking place for a year! When talks with the Beeb fell through they signed a deal with Channel 4 the same evening. They don’t hang about.

Sorrow was expressed on both sides. In an internal email to staff, the production company said it was “really saddened by this outcome because we always wanted to stay on the BBC … this has never been about who might write the biggest cheque but about where we can find the best home for Bake Off”.

It added: “Unfortunately, we were unable to agree either a fair valuation, nor were the BBC able to provide the necessary comfort for the future protection of such a distinctive and much-loved television series.”

Apparently Love wanted four times the current price from the notoriously cash-strapped BBC. Channel 4 paid in the region of £25 million a year for the contract. So you can buy me Love as long as you have extremely deep pockets.

And really, you can see how the format might be expensive. All those CGI explosions, elaborate costumes, lavish sets and that enormous symphony orchestra score. All those exotic travel montages from tropical islands and how they’ve upgraded from gold leaf to 24 carat for decoration on every single damn cupcake.

Oh wait, no – it’s set in a tent, in a garden, in the rain.

Cue outrage and panic on Twitter:

It’ll be like this, only with more adverts and fewer bakes. We want full hour not 45 mins with 15 mins of adverts!

This is worryingly accurate:

And this gem from Jake – what goes around comes around in telly land:

You’d hope that all this talk about messing with the format is just knee-jerk panic from Beebophiles. I think Channel 4 is the least worst competitor. If the fans had got together to choose, I think this is the only realistic alternative. And as Channel 4 proudly crowed in their press release “Under the new creative partnership the multi-award winning show will remain on free-to-air television.” i.e. could have been worse, could have been Sky.

But there are genuine worries about how well placed Channel 4 are for international distribution and if viewers in other countries will have to sign up to new pay-to-view subscription services like Amazon, Hulu and Netflix to be able to see the new series. Surely Channel 4 will have thought this through as international revenue is increasingly important. The multiple local spin-offs are never quite as nourishing as the real thing.

Well, what’s done is done. There’s no point in petitioning anyone for change. Money talks. We’ll just have to hope that such a rock-solid format will be able to withstand any tweaks from the new broadcaster. Get your fingers out of the mixing bowl Channel 4 and leave it alone to prove and rise again!

Author: sarahhamstera

Mum always warned me watching too much tv would give me square eyes - let's find out if that's true! TV reviewer at Birmingham, UK

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