By this point, we’ve likely all heard the news – the BBC’s popular teatime show The Great British Bake Off will be moving to Channel 4 for its next season, and in the move it’s going to lose presenters Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc. At time of writing, there’s no news as to whether Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood will be making the move – the new deal with Channel 4 didn’t include them, and so their contracts will need to be renegotiated – but it’s already becoming clear that The Great British Bake Off, when it does return next year, will be returning in a significantly different capacity.
This speaks of a larger, systemic problem in terms of attitudes to the BBC, though – the manner in which it is so criminally underfunded, and the lack of care given to it. In 2010 we saw the licence fee frozen; the television centre in London was closed not long after that; earlier this year, BBC Three was forced to become an online only platform. Most pertinent in terms of Bake Off was the regime change instituted recently, stating that 25% of the BBC’s content has to be guaranteed to independent companies, and a further 25% open to competition between independent companies and BBC producers. It’s essentially this stipulation – and further meddling from the current Conservative government – that leads to the BBC losing programs such as The Great British Bake Off or The Voice.
Tragedy struck yesterday, as no doubt everyone heard. Bake Off is moving channel! Mel and Sue are leaving! It’s the end of the world! More importantly, though, it reveals something worrying about how the BBC is treated…
(“Criminally underfunded” is probably a bit much, and I suspect I was reaching for things without the fullest understanding of the bigger picture. Still, though, I am very pro-BBC.)