Channel 4 has begun discussions about the presenting line-up and look of Junior Bake Off following its transfer from the BBC.
Speaking at RTS event Why We Love…Food Channel 4 head of features and formats Sarah Lazenby said she had a meeting on Tuesday about the children’s version of the hit series, Great British Bake Off, which has followed its parent to the commercial broadcaster.
When asked how Channel 4 would make Junior Bake Off its own, Lazenby said “We’re really excited that’s coming to us. Obviously we’re not a children’s broadcaster…16-34 year olds is our target but…there’s a format that’s there but there’s also a Channel 4 tone.”
When asked if the junior version would include the same presenters Lazenby said: “We’re literally at first meeting today; everything as ever is conversations.”
When Junior Bake Off aired on CBBC it had different hosts - Aaron Craze, then Sam Nixon and Mark Rhodes - from the adult version; which was fronted by Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc.
And whilst the first series was judged by Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood others including Nadiya Hussain were used on next three.
Click here to watch the event in full.
On the day that Jamie Oliver said he was “devastated” as his UK restaurant chain has gone into administration, Lazenby also confirmed Channel 4 is making a new vegetarian series with him and looking back at his 20 years on TV.
“We’re going to do something about Jamie 20 years on this year - he’s going to do a new vegetarian series because everyone’s wanting to go meat-free,” said Lazenby.
With food shows a staple of TV globally Lazenby explained its popularity: “Food always rates it’s great, everyone needs to eat. It’s about how you innovate. I think you can make food programmes for everyone. We’ve got some amazing cornerstones in our schedule…but I still feel like there’s room for this new generation of Instagram food shows.”
Masterchef makers Shine managing director Tanya Shaw said new talent and a digital strategy are key to bringing in young audiences to food TV shows who are used to seeing chefs on social media; although the panel agreed that no major social media food talent has yet moved over to hosting their own broadcast show.
“Masterchef keeps us quite busy and we also do things with Mary Berry and we are starting to look at new talent…these things are cyclical…every so often there is the next Jamie, or there is the next person who does capture the nation’s imagination because they feel really passionately about an issue that feels of the moment, or because they are really extraordinary in terms of their character.”
Chair Pritesh Mody, founder of artisan food producer World of Zing questioned whether restaurant culture is being driven by TV or vice versa?
Restaurateur Nisha Katona, who is a judge on BBC Two’s Top of the Shop said: “I don’t think you could possibly commission programmes at the speed we as consumers evolve our food on the street. What TV does is produce something which provides a comfortable place for us as middle class food intelligentsia to come and sit and unwind and think this is a safe and noble place for me.”
The panel agreed that making cookery shows was hard and required specialist skills, such as using the right lenses and getting the “sound of the sizzle” as chef Melissa Hemsley put it.
Hemsley said sustainability and thrifty tips are current trends, “what can I do with peelings… I wish there was more shows where the farmers were shown cooking the meal.”
"Why we love... food" was an RTS early evening event held at Kings Place in London on 21st May. It was produced by Sarah Booth. A longer report of this event will appear in Television magazine.