Saturday 26 May 2018

Hollywood jumps channels to stick with Bake Off

Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry are taking different paths (BBC/PA)
Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry are taking different paths (BBC/PA)
Flowers are delivered to Mary Berry's home address in Buckinghamshire

Paul Hollywood decided to join The Great British Bake Off on Channel 4 despite being approached by the BBC about Top Gear.

The judge, 50, is jumping ship for the rival channel even though co-judge Mary Berry, and presenters Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins are staying put.

A TV source said: "He was offered a significant role on Top Gear. It was serious money. The word is he would only get it if he signed up exclusively to the BBC."

Top Gear relaunched earlier this year with Chris Evans at the helm, but the Radio 2 DJ later quit following falling viewing figures.

A BBC source said there were discussions about Top Gear, but not for a full presenting role.

"There were discussions about a guest presenting role for Top Gear. It was not a full presenting role," the source said.

Hollywood has come under fire from fans of the show for moving to Channel 4 - after his co-host Berry and the presenters opted not to follow the dough.

The star is getting a pay rise, with reports that he could be earning £300,000 by making the move.

Until now, he is said to have been paid around £60,000 per series.

After days of speculation, Berry announced she was saying "farewell to soggy bottoms".

The baking queen, 81, who gained national treasure status on the back of Bake Off, decided not to move to the rival broadcaster and said she would stay with the BBC out of loyalty.

But Hollywood, famous for his steely gaze and often dubbed a "silver fox", said he could not "turn my back" on Bake Off as the white tent is where he belongs.

He said: "Since I was a kid, baking has been part of my life. The seven series inside the tent have created some great memories. Best of all, I have felt so pleased to experience other people getting the baking bug, just as I did when my dad helped me make my first loaf.

"The Great British Bake Off has brought baking to the nation and we've seen people from all walks of life and backgrounds experience the highs and lows of competition, and more importantly helping each other.

"It's 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."

Hollywood has faced flak on Twitter for moving to Channel 4, which outbid the BBC for the programme.

Jess Taylor ‏wrote: "Badly done Paul Hollywood... badly done. #GBBO."

James Williams said: "Channel 4 have paid £25 million for Paul Hollywood and a tent."

Joey1970 tweeted: "Paul Hollywood I thinks it's the wrong decision but good luck to you," while Andy Jacksson added: "Not watching Bake-Off just for Paul Hollywood. It's all four of them or nothing."

But Helen McCarthy ‏wrote: "Don't slag off Paul Hollywood, as if you'd turn down millions to eat cake and judge people," and ZlatOnPitch was also supportive: "Meanwhile everyone in the UK is angry at Paul Hollywood for... well... earning a living."

The split of one of TV's most famous pairings has been compared to the divorce of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

Hollywood was also criticised for failing to mention Berry in his initial statement about his future, despite thanking the BBC, Giedroyc and Perkins.

"I want to thank the BBC and Mel and Sue for making my time in the tent great fun and really rewarding," he initially announced.

He later tweeted to say how much he would miss Berry, saying: "I'm staying in the tent with the bakers where I belong. I want to thank Mary. I'll miss her but she has made the right decision for her."

In a further statement, he added: "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... I will miss her."

Berry and Hollywood have been judges on the show, which sparked a nationwide craze in baking and became famous for its innuendos, since it first aired on BBC Two in 2010, alongside Giedroyc and Perkins.

Berry earlier issued a statement saying she would stay with the BBC, which has "nurtured me", and she added that she feels "sad" for the audience who do not want the show to change.

"What a privilege and honour it has been 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," she said.

"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 wish the programme, crew and future bakers every possible success and I am so very sad not to be a part of it. Farewell to soggy bottoms."

Giedroyc and Perkins revealed last week that they would not make the move to Channel 4.

Richard McKerrow, creative director at Bake Off makers Love Productions, attempted to reassure fans the show will not change substantially, despite the loss of its hosts and one of its judges.

"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," he said. "Bake Off will be produced by the same team, in the same tent, with the same recipe."

The BBC is believed to have offered Love Productions £15 million a year to keep the programme, but that is reported to have fallen £10 million short.

The first Bake Off to be broadcast on Channel 4 will be a celebrity version of the show in 2017, in aid of Stand Up To Cancer.

Around 15 million watched as Nadiya Hussain was crowned winner in 2015.

Jamie Oliver - who has been mooted as a potential replacement judge as the show moves to Channel 4 - congratulated Hollywood on his move.

He posted on his Twitter account: "Welcome @PaulHollywood I know you and the team will do an amazing job on bake off big love j."

Press Association

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