'Great British Bake Off' Judge Mary Berry to Quit, Paul Hollywood to Continue When Show Leaves BBC

The Great British Bake Off: 5 - Love Productions 2014 - Mary Berry - Publicity - H 2016
Courtesy of © Mark Bourdillon

Hosts Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc had previously thrown in the towel ahead of the U.K. hit show's move to Channel 4.

The Great British Bake Off will lose judge Mary Berry when the U.K. ratings hit moves from the BBC to Channel 4, but Paul Hollywood on Thursday announced his plans to continue for three seasons when the ratings juggernaut moves after the end of the current season.

“Since I was a kid, baking has been part of my life," said Hollywood in a statement. " The seven [seasons] inside the tent have created some great memories. Best of all, I have felt so pleased to experience other people getting the baking bug, just as I did when my dad helped me make my first loaf. The Great British Bake Off has brought baking to the nation and we’ve seen people from all walks of life and backgrounds, experience the highs and lows of competition, and more importantly helping each other. It’s been a huge part of my life in the past few years and I just couldn’t turn my back on all that — the bakers themselves, the bakes, the team that makes it, and of course the tent, the bunting, and who could forget … the squirrels."

The BBC had announced the news of Berry's departure just an hour before the Channel 4 deal with Hollywood was disclosed. Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc previously said that they would quit as hosts of the show.

“What a privilege and honor it has been to be part of seven years of magic in a tent — The Great British Bake Off," Berry said in a statement issued by the BBC. "The Bake Off family — Paul, Mel and Sue have given me so much joy and laughter."

She explained: "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 program, crew and future bakers every possible success and I am so very sad not to be a part of it. Farewell to soggy bottoms.”

Charlotte Moore, director of BBC content, said: "Mary is an extraordinary woman, loved and adored by the British public, and the BBC is her natural home. 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."

Richard McKerrow, creative director of Bake Off producer Love Productions, said: “Paul’s presence will ensure the culture of Bake Off continues in the tent as it makes its move to Channel 4. We want to reiterate to Bake Off fans that the show they love will remain wholly familiar, and that Channel 4 is a great place to make our show. Bake Off will be produced by the same team, in the same tent, with the same recipe.”

Added Channel 4 chief creative officer Jay Hunt: “Paul really is the star baker — an exceptional talent with a twinkle in his eye. His wit, warmth and wisdom are vital ingredients in Bake Off’s success. I’m so delighted he’s coming to Channel 4.”

The hosts of the show had said in recently announcing their departure: "We were very shocked and saddened" to learn that Bake Off would be moving. "We made no secret of our desire for the show to remain where it was." They concluded: "We're not going with the dough. We wish all the future bakers every success."

Channel 4 had announced a three-year deal for the show, estimated by some to be worth 75 million pounds ($99 million). It said the first Bake Off content planned is a celebrity version of the show in 2017.

But the departure of a big part of the on-air team raises major questions about the future of the franchise.

A modest hit when it premiered in 2010 on BBC Two, the show was later moved to flagship channel BBC One and now ranks among the biggest shows in U.K. history.

The good-natured cooking competition (known, due to copyright issues, as The Great British Baking Show in the U.S.) returned for its seventh season on Aug. 24, drawing a whopping 10.4 million live viewers for a 47.5 share. That means nearly half of British TVs on during the hour were tuned in. That was a bigger percentage than the Rio Olympics. Nothing, save the Super Bowl (a 73 share) and the NFL conference championship games, match that level of saturation with U.S. audiences. The Oscars and NBC’s most-watched night of Olympics coverage couldn’t reach a 40 share.

Love Productions is controlled by pan-European pay TV giant Sky, in which 21st Century Fox owns a 39 percent stake.