In terms of back story and behind-the-scenes politicking, the first part of the next sentence will mean almost nothing to Americans, but hang on for the second half and try not to cry: The Great British Bake Off is leaving the BBC for Channel 4, and, in the ensuing kerfuffle, hosts Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins have quit the show and Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood's future on the program is uncertain, at best.
"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," Mel and Sue said in a statement. "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."
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Deep breath. How could this have happened?
The baking competition show, now in its seventh season, is produced by Love Productions. According to a report in the Telegraph, the production company has been in negotiations with the BBC for "more than a year"—and demanded the public television network pay £25 million a year (about $33 million annually) for rights to air the show. The BBC refused and Channel 4—a commercial channel—seized the opportunity. Channel 4 has confirmed to British media outlets that none of the four hosts have thus far signed on for a new season.
Since its debut on BBC Two in 2010, and subsequent move to BBC One in its fifth season, the baking contest has been one of the network's greatest hits. It's spawned eight top-selling books, several spin-offs starring celebrities and children, as well as launched several professional careers of season winners—Edd Kimber, Joanne Wheatley, John Whaite, Frances Quinn, Nancy Birtwhistle, and Nadiya Hussain, whose children's book Nadiya's Bake Me a Story was released last week and is currently the no. 1 selling baking book on Amazon's UK charts.