Did ‘secret legal dispute’ prompt Bake Off’s exit from the BBC?

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By Katie King on

Producers reportedly engaged Lewis Silkin lawyer and threatened to sue TV broadcaster


An alleged legal bust-up between the BBC and producers of The Great British Bake Off (GBBO) may explain why the show is moving to Channel 4, an online business magazine has claimed.

This week really has proved tough for ardent fans of the much-loved baking show.

First, it was announced Channel 4 had paid £75 million for a three-year deal with the popular primetime TV show which, until now, had always been aired by the BBC.

Then, if that wasn’t shocking enough, yesterday resident hosts Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins revealed they would not be “going with the dough” and will be leaving the show. Speculation is already beginning to bubble over as to whether judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry will be next to go.

Given the hefty sum paid by Channel 4, distraught Bake Off fans assumed the TV channel move was wholly motivated by money.

But, Business Insider UK has come forward with an alternate theory, claiming a “secret legal dispute” between the show’s producers, Love Productions, and the British broadcaster may be at least partly to blame.

According to the online magazine, the BBC was involved in a “secret legal row” with Love Productions back in 2014 over a hairdressing competition called Hair, which originally aired on BBC3.

Produced in-house by the BBC, the show documented the quest to find the country’s best amateur hair stylist through a series of hairdressing challenges, a bit like GBBO does with bakers.

The magazine reports Love Productions was “pissed off” about the BBC3 show, and said Hair effectively “ripped-off” the GBBO format. It also reports the production company engaged lawyer Jonathan Coad, of Lewis Silkin, to sue the BBC. One source commented:

The formats lawyer said it was the clearest cut case they’d seen of a format infringement.

The matter never reached the courtroom, but Business Insider UK speculates whether this legal row damaged the Beeb’s relationship with Love Productions, and ultimately its relationship with the GBBO.