New BBC board boss does not want to see a Bake Off remake
Sir David Clementi has said he would be “disappointed” to see the BBC try to reproduce The Great British Bake Off after losing the popular cookery show to Channel 4.
The new chairman of the corporation’s unitary board, which replaces the BBC Trust, said he was a fan of the show but would not like to see it recreated.
Speaking at a hearing before his official appointment to the new role on Tuesday, he gave his views on BBC programming.
Asked if he thought it would be wrong to introduce a copycat version of Bake Off, which ran on the BBC for seven series, he said: “Yes, if it was precisely similar, but I don’t think that’s intended.”
Describing the programme, which saw a selection of amateur bakers put through their culinary paces by Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, as a “great show”, he said: “It would need to be a different format.
“To put an absolutely similar programme on would be very disappointing.”
Sir David voiced his admiration for Bake Off contestant-turned-television chef Nadiya Hussain’s work with the BBC as he wished Channel 4 “good luck” developing the show.
The former deputy governor of the Bank of England was also quizzed on his plans to build “distinctiveness” into the channel’s programming.
While praising original dramas such as Sherlock and Line Of Duty, he showed a hint of scepticism about repetitive reality shows.
Commenting on the latest reality singing contest, Let It Shine, airing in BBC One’s prime Saturday evening slot, he said: “It isn’t a new concept, but it’s quite warm-hearted.
“We need to allow it a few more Saturdays before making a judgment and see how Gary (Barlow) brings it together.”
He added that he was “not sad” the BBC had lost rival singing show The Voice to ITV.
But, while he described himself as a BBC “enthusiast” and an expert on its programming between 8pm and 11pm, he made clear that the new board will not play a part in individual programming and commissioning decisions.
He said the government organisation’s role would be to oversee general schedules and balance across the channels.
Entering the position at a difficult financial time for the BBC, he said he planned a five-year cost-saving plan with an emphasis on spreading products overseas, as well as improving “originality, creativity and risk-taking” in content.
“We are coming under increasing competition from independent producers,” he said.
“The Graham Norton Show and Poldark, for example, are made by ITV Studios. So we can only judge the quality of BBC content when we see it being played on other channels.”
Adding that a fundamental role for the BBC is to reflect Britain as a whole, he said: “If we don’t get the public purpose right, then there is no future.”