The Great British break off: Mary Berry leaves show

Celebrity chef Mary Berry, 81, said her decision to quit the television baking competition was out of loyalty to the BBC.
Celebrity chef Mary Berry, 81, said her decision to quit the television baking competition was out of loyalty to the BBC.

LONDON • The Great British Bake Off, the wildly popular baking reality television show that pits amateur bakers against one ano- ther, has burnt its fingers after losing its celebrity judge Mary Berry when the show's producers left BBC where it was originally aired for another channel.

The departure of Ms Berry is the British Academy of Film And Television Arts award-winning show's latest setback after its presenters, Ms Mel Giedroyc and Ms Sue Perkins, announced last week that they were "not going with the dough" as they refused to join Channel 4 which bought over the rights to air the show. The British broadcaster said the show will be back on the screen next year.

"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," said Ms Berry in a statement yesterday.

"I am so very sad not to be a part of it. Farewell to soggy bottoms."

The 81-year-old Berry is adored by viewers for her grandmotherly charm and for tearing up when the culinary series' first female Muslim contestant, Ms Nadiya Hussain, won Series 6 of the show last year.

The other judge on the show, Mr Paul Hollywood, is staying on after signing a three-year contract with Channel 4, which reportedly paid £75 million (S$133 million) to poach Love Productions, the independent production company behind the seven-year-old baking programme.

To retain the show, the BBC reportedly offered a price of £15 million per year to Love Pro- ductions. But it is £10 million short of the minimum £25 million demanded by the company, BBC News reported.

The turmoil in Britain's most popular television programme points to shifts in the entertainment industry, with production companies wielding greater influence at the expense of broadcasters, which are facing increased competition and budget cuts, according to Financial Times.

"The fate of Bake Off was decided when we allowed it to contract out its programme-making to someone else. The public lost ownership of Bake Off," said Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who had suggested nationalising the programme.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 23, 2016, with the headline 'The Great British break off: Mary Berry leaves show'. Print Edition | Subscribe