Home / News Room / Mary Berry to leave Great British Bake Off – but Paul Hollywood – agrees to stay

Mary Berry to leave Great British Bake Off – but Paul Hollywood – agrees to stay

Mary Berry is to leave The Great British Bake Off when it moves to Channel 4 from the BBC – but fellow judge Paul Hollywood is to stay on the show for another three seasons.

The 81-year old Berry joins presenters Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins in refusing to swap channels.

In a statement, Berry said: “It has been a privilege and honour to be part of seven years of magic in a tent – The Great British Bake Off. The Bake Off family – Paul, Mel and Sue – have given me so much joy and laughter.

“My decision to stay with the BBC is out of loyalty to them, as they have nurtured me, and the show, that was a unique and brilliant format from day one. I am just sad for the audience who may not be ready for change, I hope they understand my decision.”

She added that she wished the programme, its “crew and future bakers” well. “I am so very sad not to be a part of it. Farewell to soggy bottoms.”

The BBC’s announcement about Berry was followed within an hour by Channel 4 announcing that her fellow judge had agreed to sign up for another three years.

Mary Berry to leave Great British Bake Off – but Paul Hollywood - agrees to stay
Mary Berry to leave Great British Bake Off – but Paul Hollywood – agrees to stay

In a statement, Hollywood said that the show had “been a huge part of my life in the past few years and I just couldn’t turn my back on all that – the bakers themselves, the bakes, the team that makes it, and of course the tent, the bunting, and who could forget … the squirrels”.

“I am delighted that I will be continuing as a judge when Bake Off moves to Channel 4. I want to thank the BBC and Mel and Sue for making my time in the tent great fun and really rewarding.”

His failure to mention Berry attracted some criticism on social media but sources close to Love Production pointed out that he did not know what his fellow judge had decided to do when he made his statement.

Following the release Hollywood tweeted:

He added in a statement: “When I spoke about my news earlier on, I did not know what Mary was saying about her decision, and more importantly had not been able to speak to her.

“Let there be no doubt: I have loved every minute of my time working with Mary. I have learned so much from her and we are great friends inside and outside the tent. That will not change. Knowing her as well as I do, I am sure she has made the right decision for her. I will miss her.”

Hollywood came under fire on Twitter from his decision, most notably from 2013 Bake Off contestant Ruby Tandoh. In a series of tweets that have been described as “an epic anti-Paul Hollywood thread”, she wrote:

Later, the chef – who has written for the Guardian – tweeted “I’ll get into trouble for this.”

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Love Productions, which has made the show for the past seven years, and Channel 4 sought to ease any concerns about the programme’s future.

Jay Hunt, chief creative officer of Channel 4, said: “Paul really is the star baker – an exceptional talent with a twinkle in his eye. His wit, warmth and wisdom are vital ingredients in Bake Off’s success.”

Richard McKerrow, co-founder and creative director of Love Productions, wrote: “Paul’s presence will ensure the culture of Bake Off continues in the tent as it makes its move to Channel 4. We want to reiterate to Bake Off fans, that the show they love will remain wholly familiar, and that Channel 4 is a great place to make our show. Bake Off will be produced by the same team, in the same tent, with the same recipe.”

In a statement made shortly after its first, independent production company 70% owned by Sky, added: “We respect Mary’s decision not to join the next chapter of the Bake Off story. We are immensely grateful to her for all her work and for her recognition today that Love Productions had made a ‘unique and brilliant format from day one’ with Bake Off. The whole family, crew and team that made Bake Off for the BBC, and who will now make it just as brilliantly for Channel 4, will miss her.”

In announcing their decision to quit the show rather than leave the BBC last week, Perkins and Giedroyc last week underlined the issue of loyalty and greed, saying: “We made no secret of our desire for the show to remain where it was.”

“The BBC nurtured the show from its infancy and helped give it its distinctive warmth and charm, growing it from an audience of two million to nearly 15 at its peak.

“We’re not going with the dough. We wish all the future bakers every success.”
Some of the reaction from Bake Off fans on Twitter was critical of Hollywood, with some accusing him of “following the money”.

Earlier this week, the Mail reported that the 50-year-old baker has registered his name as a trademark for a huge list of potential products and services, ranging from mineral water to hotel supplies.

Channel 4, understood not to have made the highest offer with its three-year deal worth £75m, can use the hit show to attract advertising.

The publicly owned commercially funded Channel 4 has said that its first Bake Off will be a celebrity version in 2017 in aid of Stand Up for Cancer. It is expected to try to get the BBC to agree to loosen the so-called “holdback” clause in which rival broadcasters cannot broadcast the new version of the show within 12 months.

One source close to Love Productions said: “Should a publicly funded broadcaster really be keeping a much-loved programme off air?”

The BBC is set to broadcast two Christmas Bake Off specials this year and would not comment on further negotiations over timing.

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