David Reviews

 Biting the hand that feeds us since 2002.

JAY HUNT BAKES OFF AND BOWS OUT.

At the annual Edinburgh TV Festival, Jay Hunt vigorously defended Channel 4's decision to take over 'The Great British Bake-Off' in a typically feisty performance in the 'Meet the Controller' session.

In her final appearance in this slot before she leaves her job, Channel 4's fast-talking Chief Creative Officer twice drew attention to the breakdown of the BBC's relationship with Love Productions (who produce it). She explained that she hadn't, as had been widely reported, poached the programme so much as generously provided shelter for it after it was made homeless.

Asked what success looks like for the revamped Bake-Off, she dampened expectations of matching the BBC's audiences of thirteen million viewers. She reminded the audience that Channel 4 has already revealed they need only three million viewers for the programme to break even and anything between five and seven million viewers would prompt riotous celebrations at their Victoria HQ.


I'm not going to be retraining as a dry cleaner.

 ”

The positive reviews appearing after newspapers and broadcasters were offered an advanced screening of the first episode of Channel 4's Bake Off has clearly buoyed her mood and she revealed that "something magical" had happened between new presenters Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding. Unlikeliest First Dates ever?

Hunt's valedictory appearance provided Boyd Hilton with an opportunity to reflect on the triumphs and tragedies of her reign. Unsurprisingly, Hunt feels there have been a great deal more of the former than the latter and she referred several times to the perilous situation she'd inherited.

Asked why she'd decided to leave, she jokingly placed the blame squarely at the feet of David Abraham, whose own decision to leave his role as Chief Executive had prompted her to acknowledge that she should either apply for his job or move on. Boyd Hilton didn't press her on whether she had received any indication about the likelihood of succeeding Abraham as Chief Executive but the timing of her decision to quit - just days before a decision on the new appointment was due to be made - strongly suggests her horse was not in the race.

Despite a falling-out when 'Black Mirror' was moved from her channel to Netflix, she spoke approvingly of the co-productions with the entertainment company which have occurred on her watch, as well as those with Amazon and HBO. She takes particular pride in the success of The Handmaid's Tale. But she foresees an existential crisis for Channel 4 if they don't retain a focus on their remit.

There was - as there always is with Jay Hunt - a weariness in addressing criticism and she hit a withering note of condescension when answering comments made by Michael Grade - once of her parish - about the Bake-Off decision. And while she wears her position as a major Daily Mail hate figure as a badge of pride, she also projects an air of exasperation about it. Indeed, she makes it clear that her role has - at times - been one of ongoing crisis management and she's plainly looking forward to a period of calm before rejoining the fray.

That she will be back is guaranteed - as she assured the audience, she "won't be retraining as a dry cleaner" - and we can probably expect the mystery of her next move to be resolved very soon.

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David Reviews - Lovely Lenzie Ltd, Woodbourne House, Seven Sisters, Lenzie, G66 3AW. Telephone: +44 141 776 7766. Editor: Jason Stone.