The TV exec who poached The Great British Bake-Off from the BBC last year has denied that there is friction between the new line-up of judges and hosts on Channel 4.
Jay Hunt, the broadcaster’s outgoing chief creative officer, dismissed reports that relationships between the new faces of the show – Paul Hollywood, Prue Leith, Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding – had turned south.
“I was in the tent a few weeks ago for the whole day. I was struck by completely the opposite,” she says.
“Chemistry is hard to achieve on television and the thing that I took away from it more than anything else is that there was natural warmth and that they got on really well and their humour worked incredibly effectively together.”
Having seen the first episode of the new format, Hunt proclaims herself “quietly confident” that it will continue to be a success with audiences at home.
“Their chemistry is fantastic, the calibre of the baking is absolutely jaw dropping... I can reassure all the sceptics that it's looking absolutely fantastic,” she says, adding that the show boasts an “extraordinary, high calibre of contributors”.
The new Channel 4 version of Bake Off has been contentious ever since it was announced that the hit cooking show was being poached from the BBC’s rival broadcaster last year.
Original judge Mary Berry and presenters Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins – beloved characters in the legendary white tents – decided to quit, in an act of loyalty to the BBC. Giedroyc and Perkins famously said they were “not going with the dough”.
However, Hollywood stayed on and is joined on the judging panel by Leith, a restaurateur, cookery writer and television presenter with over 50 years of experience to her name.
Comedians Toksvig and Fielding will be on pun duty as hosts – and Channel 4 is hinting at a face-lift when it comes to the ol’ Bake Off innuendo formula, too.
Instead of hot baps and soggy bottoms, we’re promised “a new comic riff”.
“We've got a new tone to it… I think that feels modern and future facing,” says Hunt. “I think it's a show that people will love with a Channel 4 spin.”
Appearing on Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs over the weekend, Perkins admitted she had been considering leaving Bake Off long before the Channel 4 move was announced.
“I think we were running out of puns,” said Perkins, who co-hosted the show between 2010 and 2016. “I’m not going to lie – there are only so many in the tank.
“We had a Croatian bun and I said rather loudly that it had split. I thought, ‘I’ve really, really sunk to the bottom of what is possible.’”
And if Hollywood’s former Bake Off colleagues harbour any grudges against the fact that he decided to continue on without them, they’re certainly not showing it.
“I love the guy, genuinely,” Giedroyc said back in January. “He's a pal and he's a friend.”
Even the queen of the show, Berry, was gracious about his departure, saying: “[The Channel 4 version] is going to be different, but I am sure Paul will carry it on successfully.”
Images: Channel 4, BBC, Rex