Paul Hollywood has come under fire from fans of The Great British Bake Off for moving to Channel 4 – after his co-host Mary Berry and presenters Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins opted not to follow the dough.
After days of speculation, Berry, who has been at the heart of the BBC One show since it began in 2010 with little expectation that it would become a huge hit, announced she was saying “farewell to soggy bottoms”.
The baking queen, 81, who gained national treasure status on the back of Bake Off, decided not to move to the rival broadcaster and said she would stay with the BBC out of loyalty.
But Paul, 50, famous for his steely gaze and dubbed a “silver fox”, said he could not “turn my back” on Bake Off and that the white tent is where he belongs.
“Since I was a kid, baking has been part of my life. The seven series 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,” he said.
“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 split of one of TV’s most famous pairings has been compared to the divorce of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.
And Paul was criticised for failing to mention Berry in his initial statement – despite thanking the BBC, Mel and Sue and even referring to Bake Off’s famous squirrels.
“I want to thank the BBC and Mel and Sue for making my time in the tent great fun and really rewarding,” he initially announced.
He later tweeted to say how much he would miss Berry:
I'm staying in the tent with the bakers where I belong. I want to thank Mary. I'll miss her but she has made the right decision for her.— Paul Hollywood (@PaulHollywood) September 22, 2016
And he added in a further statement: “Let there be no doubt: I have loved every minute of my time working with Mary. I have learned so much from her and we are great friends inside and outside the tent…I will miss her.”
Mary and Paul have been judges on the show, which sparked a nationwide craze in baking and became amous for its innuendos, since it first aired on BBC2, alongside the presenters.
Now Paul, who is believed to be getting a pay rise, has come under flak on Twitter for moving to Channel 4, which outbid the BBC to poach the programme.
Some fans of the show said that he had made the wrong move.
Mary, who even sparked a fashion for floral bomber jackets, issued a statement saying that she would stay with the BBC, which has “nurtured me”.
She said she felt “sad” for the audience who do not want the show to change.
“What a privilege and honour it has been to be part of seven 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.
“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. Farewell to soggy bottoms.”
Mel and Sue previously revealed that they would not make the move, saying: “We made no secret of our desire for the show to remain where it was.
“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 (million) at its peak..”We’re not going with the dough. We wish all the future bakers every success.”
Love Productions’ creative director Richard McKerrow attempted to reassure fans that Bake Off would not change substantially, despite the loss of its hosts and one of its judges.
“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,” he said.
The BBC is believed to have offered Love Productions £15 million a year to keep the programme, but the amount is reported to have fallen £10 million short.
The first Bake Off to be broadcast on Channel 4 will be a celebrity version of the show in 2017, in aid of Stand Up To Cancer.
Around 15 million watched as Nadiya Hussain was crowned winner in 2015.