The Great British Bake Off (GBBO) is like a steaming spotted dick, moist and dense and delicious, and speckled with dried fruit. Paul Hollywood is the flour. He binds it all together. Mel and Sue are the milk and butter. They’re rich and creamy, and maybe a bit naughty in their comedic charm. Mary Berry? She’s the sugar, of course. Were she not there, the pudding wouldn’t be a pudding at all. It would just be a mound of carby sadness.
Spotted dick is a fine pudding. And so terribly British, just like GBBO. Yesterday, gasps were heard when it was announced that the show will, as of the end of series seven, move to Channel 4. The maker, Love Productions, could not agree a deal with the BBC. Shockingly, the disagreement between the BBC and Love Productions is over money. Apparently, we’re talking a £10 million difference in valuations.
As the Guardian explains, the popularity of GBBO means that it could be worth upwards of £20 million a year. As the first episode of the current series hit our screens, a batch of 10 million viewers tuned in, all eager for a slice. But such desire was not enough to propel our national broadcaster to agree terms with Love Productions. Put simply, Channel 4 is prepared and/or able to fork out much more to host the hit TV series.
‘We made a very strong offer to keep the show, but we are a considerable distance apart on the money,’ a corporation executive said. ‘The BBC’s resources are not infinite.’ Love Productions claimed to be ‘saddened’ by it all. ‘This has never been about who might write the biggest cheque but about where we can find the best home for Bake Off,’ an email to staff sobbed. ‘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.’ Channel 4, meanwhile, is understandably elated. It has now got another cultural phenomenon to add to its increasingly filling roster. which includes First Dates and Gogglebox.
I don’t want to get into the iconoclastic nature of the conversation perpetually surrounding the BBC. But what I do know, however, is that I enjoy the BBC a great deal, and feel an attachment to it thanks to shows such as GBBO. I’d hesitate to call it patriotism as such, but I appreciate much of what it broadcasts. When shows such as GBBO or the Olympics air, it makes me feel part of a unified country. They’re monumental and it feels as if they should be on the BBC, rather than Channel 4. They offer up a bowl of solidarity to the nation.
I’m not alone, either. There’s talk that presenters Mel and Sue, and judges Paul and Mary, were also eager to see GBBO kept on the BBC. Could they leave? Who knows.
If nothing more – and to end on a lighter bake – GBBO is flushed with innuendo. It’s rosy-cheeked and innocent. Can Channel 4 really keep that alive? Because Channel 4 doesn’t do innuendo – it does naked. And when things are naked, nobody really wants to see a spotted dick.
(I got the spotted dick recipe from the BBC, by the way. As you’ll notice, I left out the lemon. Things are sour enough already.)