LONDON — “The Great British Bake Off” is losing one of its main ingredients.
Cookery writer Mary Berry announced Thursday that she will quit as a judge on the hit TV baking competition when it leaves the BBC next year for another channel. Her co-judge, bread expert Paul Hollywood, said he would stay.
Berry, an 81-year-old baking expert, has become one of Britain’s more unlikely TV stars as a judge on the contest, famed for her kindly perfectionism and dislike of “soggy bottoms.” She has also appeared on a U.S. version of the program for ABC.
“My decision to stay with the BBC is out of loyalty to them, as they have nurtured me, and the show,” Berry said.
The BBC announced last week it had lost the rights to “Bake Off,” which it has broadcast since 2010, after rival Channel 4 offered more money to program maker Love Productions.
The news upset some of the program’s millions of fans, because the publicly funded BBC developed and supported the show, taking it from niche curiosity to cultural phenomenon. “Bake Off” — in which amateur bakers compete to create elaborate cakes, tortes, trifles and flans — is broadcast in dozens of countries and has spawned similar local shows in several countries.
Hollywood said the show “has been a huge part of my life in the past few years, and I just couldn’t turn my back on all that.”
Co-hosts Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, who set the show’s tone of gentle but saucy humor, also are leaving.
Despite the loss of three-quarters of its stars, Love Productions said the show “will remain wholly familiar.”
“‘Bake Off’ will be produced by the same team, in the same tent, with the same recipe,” the company said in a statement.