Mary Berry was praised as ‘an extraordinary woman’ today as she announced she is quitting The Great British Bake Off.
The BBC today reported that the presenter, who co-stars with Paul Hollywood, is leaving after the announcement that the show is moving to Channel 4.
Shortly after the Mary Berry announcement, it was confirmed that Paul Hollywood has signed a deal with Channel 4 to host The Great British Bake Off.
Mary Berry said: ‘What a privilege and honour it has been to be part of 7 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 in a statement.
“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.
“I wish the programme, crew and future bakers every possible success and I am so very sad not to be a part of it.
She added: “Farewell to soggy bottoms.”
Her decision follows the shock announcement by hosts Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins to stay with the BBC.
As one former GBBO contestant compared the news to being as dramatic as the Queen abdicating, Charlotte Moore, director of BBC content, welcomed the baking queen’s decision, which comes after days of speculation about whether she will move.
“Mary is an extraordinary woman, loved and adored by the British public, and the BBC is her natural home,” Ms Moore said.
“I’ve been very lucky to have had the pleasure of working with Mary over the last seven years and I’m so pleased that relationship will continue.
“She is an inspiration to generations, a real icon and I can’t wait to cook up more unmissable shows with her in the future.”
Berry’s fellow judge Paul Hollywood has not yet commented on whether he will be making the move to Channel 4.
The BBC is believed to have offered Love Productions, the producers of the popular baking show, £15 million a year to keep the programme.
But the amount is reported to have fallen £10 million short of what the corporation would need to retain it.
Channel 4 has signed a three-year agreement with Love Productions.
The BBC had said it “made a very strong offer to keep the show but we are a considerable distance apart on the money”.
Perkins and Giedroyc released a joint statement last week to reveal they were not moving.
“We made no secret of our desire for the show to remain where it was,” they said. “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’ve had the most amazing time on Bake Off, and have loved seeing it rise and rise like a pair of yeasted Latvian baps.
“We’re not going with the dough. We wish all the future bakers every success.”
Former Great British Bake Off contestant Martha Collison has compared the news that Mary Berry will not follow the show to Channel 4 to the abdication of a queen.
Collison, who at 17 was the youngest contestant on the show when she made it to the quarter-finals in the fifth series, wrote on Twitter: “The queen of baking has abdicated. Will the world ever be the same again?”
Richard Burr, who was a finalist in the same series, added: “Crikey! That tent @Channel4 have bought is looking emptier and emptier...”
The Hunger Games star Sam Claflin lent his support to Berry, writing: “The Great British Baker is Off? My egg is broken. Mary Berry is just pure class. Class move.”
Former deputy prime minister Lord Prescott cheered Berry on with a reference to co-judge Paul Hollywood’s nickname for her, saying: “Well done Mary Berry! Or can I call you Bezza?”