Channel 4 CEO David Abraham has shown a sure touch since he took over in 2010, even his decision to ditch Big Brother, its biggest ratings winner, now doesn’t look quite so daft.
But he may be wondering exactly what C4 has bought following the controversial decision to outbid the BBC for Love Productions’ Great British Bake Off, for which C4 has paid a whopping £25m a year.
Host Mary Berry (below), who’s been with the show since its inception in 2010 alongside baker Paul Hollywood, has announced she’s quitting the show out a loyalty to the Beeb and fears that the audience “may not be ready for change.” In other words, not very keen on a Bake Off packed with sponsor plugs and ads. One of the reasons for the show’s unlikely success is its leisurely style, unlikely to be replicated on C4 when a quarter or more of the airtime goes to ads.
Berry’s decision to leave follows the exit of Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, the irritating sub-presenters. Hollywood is pretty irritating himself, with an ego seemingly bigger than a giant Victoria sponge. Bake Off without Berry will be like Top Gear without Clarkson, which will bring a wry smile to BBC faces.
Ubiquitous Jamie Oliver has already thrown his hat in the ring as a wannabe judge and he’s had a long relationship with C4. Bake Off with Oliver would be like top Gear with Chris Evans – ouch.
As for Abraham, if he’s shown to have blown £25m a year on Bake Off it won’t help C4’s chances of avoiding privatisation. And wouldn’t it have been an idea to check if the presenters were staying before sealing the deal with Love? At best the move looks badly timed.