‘The Great British Bake Off’ is in utter shambles, but there is some good news

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Over the past year, I too have become obsessed with The Great British Bake Off. I enjoy it for so many reasons – it’s low-key British-style entertainment, which means that even though it’s a cooking/baking competition, there’s no crazy thunder-clap music like American cooking competitions. There’s no manufactured drama, and no contestant is trying to “destroy” another contestant. The whole thing takes place over the course of, like, eight weekends as contestants get to live their lives during the week. The show is filmed in a tent in the English countryside. Plus, I love how inclusive it is – there are hijab-wearing Muslim female contestants, African-immigrant contestants obsessed with cakes, young contestants, older contestants, stay-at-home-mums, bankers, students, amateur chefs and more.

While Americans have developed a great deal of affection for the GBBO, the show is something of a national obsession for British people. It is a cultural touchstone (even the prime minister watches), the ultimate must-watch TV, and THE water-cooler conversation. It is one of the most popular shows of all time in the UK. Or at least it was until everything went to hell a few weeks ago, and now it’s like a cascade of sadness-dominoes.

The beginning of the end was when BBC One sold off GBBO – arguably it’s most lucrative property, I would think? – to Channel 4. From what I gather, this is like a dumb branding move – having the GBBO on BBC One was much more prestigious/safe, and people were upset that BBC One would be so stupid and reckless about such a popular show. Following the sale, GBBO hosts Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc decided to NOT follow the show to Channel 4. And late last week, baker extraordinaire Mary Berry (one of the judges) also decided to stick with the BBC rather than move to Channel 4. This means that the only original-cast member to move to Channel 4 will be Paul Hollywood, who is honestly the worst part of the show.

So that was the big controversy brewing for the past few weeks. Now British outlets claim that the BBC is going to launch another cooking/baking competition and it will likely air before Channel 4’s GBBO launches? The BBC is lining up Sue Perkins, Mary Berry and Mel Giedroyc for a new series that sounds suspiciously like GBBO. So… I don’t know what to say to the heartbroken British people. At least we’ll still have the GBBO reruns.

Update: so the BBC didn’t own GBBO, but the situation is still so unnecessarily messy.

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Photos courtesy of WENN.

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59 Responses to “‘The Great British Bake Off’ is in utter shambles, but there is some good news”

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  1. SilverUnicorn says:

    I only watched it once and didn’t find it engaging. But I’m biased because I’ve been involved in professional cookery for ages… Also Paul Hollywood’s recipes are spot-on but he’s a bad presenter. He should stick to writing cookery books (although… no book deal gives you 600,000 pounds a year… honestly)

    • joan says:

      I love it but was already upset with the previous scandal: that Paul Hollywood had a public affair on his wife w/that Hispanic woman on Food Network [she's on The Kitchen, cited her ethnicity cause I can't remember her name but never can stand her].

      He went back to his wife but can’t look at him w/o thinking of that. But he knows his baking.

      The show can do great w/o him if the rest stay. It’s a lovely show w/depth.

  2. Jenns says:

    I just discovered this show and I love it. I watched one season on Netflix and have been watching other episodes on YouTube.

    Mary Berry is the best part of the show, while Paul is kind of a creeper.

    • Belle Epoch says:

      Just discovered the show and LOVE IT!!! Mary Berry scares me to death. And I cringed when they snapped pieces off the edible masterpieces – like, here’s a mermaid, we’ll just snap her off and eat her.

      You can tell a lot goes on post filming by the debacle in which granny Diana took the young man’s ice cream out of the freezer to put hers in. The next week she was mysteriously ill, but nothing untoward was said about her wretched behavior.

      • Meraud says:

        @Belle Epoch Diana did take Iain’s baked alaska out of the freezer but it was only out for a minute – the drama was manufactured by editing and the poor woman was crucified on social media. Sue went on Twitter to try and defend Diana but people were already out with pitchforks and torches. And as for Diana’s illness, she actually fainted at a dinner with the other contestants and hit her head on the stone floor, which caused a brain injury and she lost her sense of smell/taste. Being on GBBO pretty much ruined her life.

        The way the whole incident was handled actually turned me off the show for several seasons.

      • Becky says:

        As Meraud’s post, she only took it out briefly because it was in the wrong freezer, iirc she said it was like 30 secs, and the programme was edited to make it appear she ruined it.

        Earlier on another contestant was shown adding his meringue while it was in the freezer with the door wide open, while Ian’s dish was already in there which is why probably why he moved it in the1st place, and that wasn’t picked up on.

      • Meg D says:

        No, that genuinely was a horrible coincidence, unlikely as it sounds.

        Diana and the rest of the contestants were all out for dinner together some time after the ‘AlaskaGate’ incident, and she tripped and hit her head on a stone floor. Because of her age and the concussion, she had medical advice telling her to withdraw (Bake Off is surprisingly physically demanding). It’s pure coincidence the accident happened right after the incident, or possibly she was upset about it and that’s partially why she fell?

        But she did withdraw solely because of the restaurant accident, and not because of AlaskaGate. A whole bunch of the other bakers were there and they wouldn’t invent a fake story about a major accident in public.

        Anyway I think AlaskaGate was hugely blown out of proportion. Diane made an innocent if thoughtless mistake, and Ian had a tiny bit of a tantrum which he immediately regretted. He’s said he’s still close to Diane and that it was a tiny incident, and that he hates how she was made to look like a villain because of it.

    • Tiny Martian says:

      This is my absolute favorite show, I’ve watched every season. My husband and I discovered it by accident the first season that it aired, and we’ve been hooked ever since! So sorry to hear that it’s going to have to change, as it was perfect just the way it was.

  3. Locke Lamora says:

    Can the BBC just do similar thing with Mary, Sue and Mel?
    And I won’t shade Hollywood for going. His future with the BBC was the least secure, amd 7 million is 7 million. He’d be a fool to turn down that much money.

    Is anyone watching the current season? I’m loving Andrew, Benjamina and Rav, although Rav has been pretty bad the last few episodes. And I’m lowkey shipping Andrew and Benjamina.

    • Maum says:

      I think they’re all pretty nice apart from Candice and her annoying cats bum pursed lips pout and her general drama queen-ness.
      I have a soft spot for super laid back Selasi who always find the time to help the others when they run out of time.

      • Bex says:

        Ha I actually quite like Candice! Sure she can be a bit snarky and moody, but she knows what she’s doing and she always seems to have a kind word for her fellow bakers.

        I also have soft spots for Selasi (though he’s so laid back it’s starting to unnerve me), Andrew, Jane, and Benjamina.

      • Meg D says:

        Candice is my favourite.

        Candice for Queen <3<3<3

  4. TeamAwesome says:

    The production company wanted a ton more money, the BBC couldn’t/wouldn’t come up with it. I was surprised that there was not more negotiation with the hosts as a part of the deal. To sell the idea without the people that make it work was quite foolish.
    LOVE production co. went after a hair dresser show for having a format they felt was too similar to GBBO, the BBC can’t just carry on with the format minus Paul.

    • Becky says:

      I was gonna say, the BBC haven’t sold it off, the production co wanted more money.

      Since the BBC is funded by the licence payer, it quite often has budget restraints like this.

      The production co are stupid because they’re effectively ruining the show.

      • spugzbunny says:

        Exactly and if the Beeb had paid the ludicrous money they were asking for it then everyone would have complained they were wasting licence payers money.

      • Meg D says:

        Jay Hunt is a total idiot. I have no idea how she even still has a career, after all the stupid stunts and screw-ups she’s made over the years.

    • Madeline says:

      I think both of these new shows are going to be so sad and bad :( isn’t channel 4 restricted to doing a celebrity bake off for a certain number of years because of the deal? I feel like I heard that on buzzfeed but I can’t remember the specifics

      • Becky says:

        I have no problem with Ch4, they’re a high quality broadcaster and I’m a regular viewer.

        It just doesn’t make sense for this programme to move and in the process lose most of the presenters which is a big part of its appeal.

    • helonearth says:

      +1

      Channel 4′s Jay Hunt used to work at the BBC. Has beef with the BBC and wanted this show at any cost.

      Channel 4 now has a tent and Paul Hollywood for £75 million.

  5. OSTONE says:

    I could watch this show over and over again. Anything baking competition really! Can’t wait for the holiday baking championship!

  6. Sixer says:

    This show gets 13 million viewers here in the UK – this is like 5 million more than the most popular dramas and soaps. And you are right, Kaiser. It is peak BBC. It seems C4 has bought Paul Hollywood and a tent.

    My favourite thing about it is the way Mel and Sue make smutty jokes about dildos and whathaveyous that clearly go over the heads of the grannies watching but make the younger viewers die laughing. Soggy bottoms forever!

    Apparently and according to an ex-competitor, the reason it is so nice is mostly down to Sue and Mel. If anyone cries or gets upset or does anything the producers could use exploitatively, they will swoop in and swear like troopers so that the footage can’t be used as the show is pre-watershed. I love that story!

    • lilacflowers says:

      I love them.

    • grabbyhands says:

      I was just going to mention that about them deliberately messing up footage so the producers couldn’t film people being upset or crying. Total hearts in my eyes when I found out about that. Just when I thought I couldn’t love them any more than I do.

    • Green Girl says:

      I am an American who recently got into GBBO. I love it, and had no idea that Mel & Sue deliberately mess up the footage so that the contestants aren’t embarrassed on air later. This just makes me love them EVEN MORE.

    • I Choose Me says:

      OMG that’s awesome that they do that. I love, love, love this show. I got sucked in one weekend watching an episode where they made different sorts of bread and that was it.

      I also love it for all of the reasons Kaiser listed above. No loud dramatic music, or stupid cutaways, no sh-t talking the other contestants, no close up on contestant’s face as they tell sad story about someone dying and how this is all for them. If that makes me a heartless bint (love British swear words) for saying it then so be it. But IDGAF about anyone’s personal life or journey on a competitive show. I just want people to do what they do best, while having a great time doing it and take bets about whom I think will win.

      • Sixer says:

        My pet hate about reality shows is the wheeling out of dead relatives. Drives me up the wall. Fancy using a dead relative for personal gain!

    • Giddy says:

      I already loved Mel and Sue and the whole show, and also didn’t know about their use of sabotage to protect the bakers. Now I love them even more and hope the new show works out. They can easily get by without the smarmy Paul Hollywood.

  7. Carrie says:

    I love this show (I’m in the US). I watch it with my two little boys, who also love the program. We even play GBBS at home, all taking turns to pretend to be Mary Berry. We’re even going to England this winter and they want to do something connected with the show. Does anyone know if any of the former contestants have opened up bake shops in the London vicinity?

  8. Artemis says:

    I love this show too! The reactions that come from it sometimes are embarrassing though. Britain needs to sort itself out when GBBO attracts more outrage and attention than Brexit. Priorities and all.

    Yes, Hollywood is the worst. I do love that he ruined his chances at the American version (and almost his marriage) when he cheated with his co-judge, like dude has no restraint and LOVES the money and attention.

    That said, it’s the man’s bread and butter. Baking pun not intended. Bakers don’t make a lot of money, being in television is his job so why shouldn’t he follow the money? They act like the rest is not greedy because they are loyal to the BBC but I’m sure them having another job lined up with the BBC and not wanting the backlash was equally as important. They are tearing him apart because he wanted to make sure he had a job and he made a quick decision to move but people are overreacting again. It’s like he’s burning down the GBBO tent himself while laughing maniacally with the matches and lighter fluid still in his hand. It’s just a show Britons, not life :)

    • SilverUnicorn says:

      “GBBO attracts more attention than Brexit” thank God it does, would you have us all discussing what Brexit means 24/7? In the end the matter is in the hands of the British government, not people (not anymore).

      Furthermore, am I the only one who thinks that the show will lose part of its appeal from the change of channel?

    • India Rose says:

      Paul Hollywood had an affair with his co-judge Mary Berry? Is that what you’re saying?

      • Becky says:

        No it was his co-host on the US version of the show, Marcela Valladolid. It was all over the UK tabs at the time.

      • Artemis says:

        LMAO, I wish…That would be the most amazing thing ever!

      • Faithmobile says:

        Paul had an affair on the short lived US version with his American co-judge not Marry Berry.

      • India Rose says:

        Oh poo. The idea that Mary Berry was having her cake and eating it too was utterly charming.

        But she does, in fact, deserve better.

        Bravo, Mary, Len & Mel, for choosing class over money!

  9. Tifzlan says:

    The GBBO and RPDR are my two favorite reality shows of allllll time. I love how relaxed the show is and you can tell that everyone is there to compete in a healthy, friendly way. It’s so refreshing. I get enough drama from Drag Race anyway, i don’t need to watch people fighting over cakes and pies now too! Sad to hear the show is in shambles and I agree that Paul is the worst part of it. I groan whenever he talks. Love Mel, Sue and Mary. I wish this whole mess had not happened in the first place :(

  10. Neelyo says:

    I’m sad about it and my partner is inconsolable.

    Question: Is going from BBC to Channel 4 considered a step down?

    • Sixer says:

      No in terms of quality of channel. C4 is also publicly-owned (although financed by commercials unlike the BBC) and has a good reputation. Yes in terms of viewership. The most popular shows on C4 get about a quarter to a third the viewing figures of the most popular shows on the BBC.

      • Turningvioletviolet says:

        C4 has a different remit to BBC. It’s remit is ‘demonstrates innovation, experiment and creativity’ and ‘exhibits a distinctive character’. Taking an established and successful format from the BBC does not exactly tie in with that.
        C4 is also largely commercially funded – ie many ad breaks.
        Is it a step down? It depends on what you think about the BBC’s current output in comparison to C4′s. That said BBC is always being slammed by the government and its funding reduced for failing to produce good quality successful programming. And when it does put out good quality successful programmes (eg GBBO) it doesn’t have the money to keep it. Go figure.

      • Mei says:

        I’d say it’s less prestigious than the BBC, C4 definitely has some lower quality programmes the BBC wouldn’t dream of having on its schedule. Absolutely love GBBO and I’m gutted it’s moving, but if they can come up with something good baking wise, or put more money towards things like War & Peace, I (maybe) won’t complain.

      • Sixer says:

        What I mean to say, for American readers, is: it’s not as though the show has moved from a prestigious channel like HBO to a crappy channel like TLC. It’s moved from one of the main good quality non-subscription providers (BBC, ITV, C4) to another.

    • Maum says:

      Agreed.
      The BBC is seen as a British institution and so was the bake off. Channel 4 is traditionally considered more left wing and edgy so not quite the right audience for the bake off.

    • Ninks says:

      I think it’s subjective. The BBC has larger audiences in general, and it’s ad free which for a lot of people is a huge plus. Channel Four is also part publicly funded but they have commercials and sponsorship as well, so there will be ad breaks. Plus Channel Four was founded with the intention of providing alternative programming, and they cater to a younger, more diverse audience than the BBC traditionally does, so people are worried about what changes C4 will make. But it’s not the BBC and it’s not Channel Four who make the GBBO, it’s the production company, and they obviously know what works.

      Channel Four can make some tripe, (So does the Beeb), but they also have excellent programming and are particularly good at diversity – their recent coverage of the Paralympics was superb for example.

      • Sixer says:

        C4 gets no public funding at all, but is publicly owned.

        I agree they have messed up the branding with the move.

        Bake Off, in all its niceness, is peak BBC. Compare and contrast with the hash they made of The Voice. They just couldn’t do the ruthless commercialism involved in creating a new pop star and failed completely when they tried to use manipulative production techniques. It is a good thing The Voice has gone from BBC to ITV. It is a bad thing Bake Off has gone from BBC to C4.

    • Meg D says:

      Channel 4 used to be known as the channel for intellectuals (back in the 1980s and 1990s), but it’s become infamous for its trashy reality shows (like Big Brother, and horrible exploitative shows about “gypsies”). It still makes some quality shows, but its ethos is all over the place.

      I do worry they will turn Bake Off into a generic American-style reality show with edited ‘journeys’ and villains and all that.

      Under Hunt’s reign some serious misjudgements have been made, like turning down first refusal on more Black Mirror.

  11. Nicole says:

    Love this show so I was surprised by the change up. Personally I love international versions of shows like Masterchef and Top Model because they have higher stakes, look more professional, the contestants are nice and there aren’t producer plots ruining the show. Thank goodness for the Internet.

  12. grabbyhands says:

    I’m still depressed about all of this-I’d wanted to watch the show for a long time and was so excited when it finally came to PBS. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so happy and relaxed after watching a TV show, let alone a reality show. Thank god for YouTube and other streaming outlets-I’ve managed to see all of the other seasons, I think.

    I too am surprised that the production company didn’t lock down the hosts in the deal in some way-I can’t decide if that was foolishness or hubris. Out of all of them, Paul Hollywood is the one most easily replaced.

    As much as I would LOVE to see some variation on the show on BBC, I can’t see Love Productions allowing them to get away with anything that even remotely resembles GBBO.

  13. Dippit says:

    I read that Mel and Sue were very proactive when the production company skirted the line in past series with trying to focus on sob stories and contestant drama. They elicited support from within the BBC on not allowing the show to degenerate into THAT kind of reality TV tone. Quite rightly so.

    If at any point either of them thought the director was pointing the cameras for too long on a ‘drama’ they would go over and start swearing in earshot so that the footage couldn’t be used. I like them taking the stance that GBBO ought to be a show absent of that kind of thing we are so used to dominating other similar shows. I fear C4 are more likely to allow Love freer rein to engage in such ploys and they won’t have presenters of the calibre of Mel and Sue to discourage that as they did. I fear the show, as on C4, will be all the worse for it.

  14. Trouvee says:

    “no contestant is trying to ‘destroy’ another contestant”

    I guess only I remember Bin Gate?

  15. PoliteTeaSipper says:

    Top Gear was their most lucrative show until after the Fracas. (Can’t wait for Grand Tour!!!) Now they’ve lost Bake Off. I’ll be watching to see what Mary comes up with –Paul is pretty well replaceable.

  16. Mara says:

    I really gutted by this, like everyone I LOVE bake off. My only problem I can’t seem to find anyone to blame.

    Mel, Sue and Mary are remaining loyal to the BBC who invested in and nurtured them over several years doing wonders for his career. Paul is remaining loyal to a show who invested in and nurtured him over several years doing wonders for his career.

    Love Productions are a business, I can’t fault them for wanting a fair price for a very lucrative product and there have been allegations made that the BBC has previously stolen this format for other shows so I can understand why they might want a new home. The BBC simply can’t afford GBBO in the current political landscape, they would be crucified by the British right wing and it would put the charter renewal process in jeopardy.

    I think Channel 4 are idiots for not securing Mel, Sue and Mary but I don’t blame them for chasing ratings as I accept that’s something they have to do in order to make shows that I really like that nobody else watches e.g. Unreported World. In any case I would struggle to hold negative thoughts about Channel 4 right now just when they have finished really outstanding Paralympic coverage.

    Sorry for the long post, I guess this is just my way of saying sometimes bad things happen.

  17. Katie says:

    There is a great show on Hulu with sue Perkins and Giles Coran called “The Supersizers go…” And they ate food and “lived” different eras like the 1920s, Roman times, Edwardian times, etc.
    GBBO fans might enjoy it!!

  18. Meg D says:

    The BBC didn’t sell it, they were outbid by C4.

  19. Spiderpig says:

    The BBC did NOT sell it. The BBC did everything in their power to keep Bake Off, but the BBC do not and have never owned Bake Off. Bake Off is made and owned by an independent production company ‘Love Productions.’ The BBC bought the rights to air Bake Off from Love, back when the show was just an idea no one thought would ever amount to much. The BBC helped develop and grow Bake Off into the hit it is today.

    Except now Bake Off has become so popular, Love Productions are taking the opportunity to put the price up. By a lot.

    The BBC is a publicly funded, non-commercial broadcaster; basically PBS. The BBC cannot afford to spend £25 million on one baking show. And they’d be destroyed by the press and the government if they spent £25 million of public money on one show.

    Channel 4 are a commercial broadcaster with pots of money and there’s this whole big history over Jay Hunt, and the legal and cultural differences between the BBC and C4. But yeah, the BBC did not sell it — because they never owned it! They just couldn’t afford to buy the rights to air it any more.

    The British press have absolutely been castigating Love Productions for being so “greedy” in refusing to allow the BBC to air Bake Off any more, when the BBC are the ones responsible for making it a success in the first place. But no one is blaming the BBC for not being willing to outbid Channel 4.

    A friend of a friend claims C4 want to rebrand it as a younger, hipper show and want Nadiya as new judge. Pinch of salt obv.