How a secret legal dispute damaged the BBC's effort to keep 'Great British Bake Off'

The BBC’s hopes of hanging on to “The Great British Bake Off” were damaged in 2014 after an enormous dispute with Love Productions, the company which owns and makes the baking show.

Three separate sources told us about the secret legal row between the BBC and Love Productions over a hairdressing competition, which was produced in-house at the broadcaster and originally aired on BBC3.

Love complained that “Hair” effectively “ripped-off” the “The Great British Bake Off” format. It engaged Jonathan Coad, a TV copyright specialist at law firm Lewis Silkin, to sue the BBC.

The matter was resolved out of court, with the BBC compensating Love. Our sources were unable to put a figure on the financial settlement.

A Love Productions spokesman declined to comment. Business Insider has contacted the BBC for comment.

The BBC ‘p****d’ Love Productions off.

“They p****d Love off,” said one person familiar with the matter. “The formats lawyer said it was the clearest cut case they’d seen of a format infringement.”

Another source acknowledged that relations between Love and the BBC never properly recovered and the legal dispute damaged the BBC’s chances of renewing “The Great British Bake Off.”

Talks over the show dragged on for months before breaking down on Monday afternoon. Hours later, Channel 4 announced it had poached “Bake Off” in a £75 million ($100 million) deal.

“Hair” launched on BBC3 in 2014 and was billed as a “competition to find Britain’s best amateur hair stylist.” TV trade magazine Broadcast compared the format to “The Great British Bake Off” when it was commissioned in 2013.

“Hair” moved to BBC2 last year and the show was revamped, while presenter Steve Jones was replaced by Canadian comedian Katherine Ryan.

Separately, The Daily Telegraph reported on another dispute between the BBC and Love over “The Big Painting Challenge,” presented by Richard Bacon and Una Stubbs.

The newspaper said that the BBC “enlisted an official mediation service to try to settle the claim,” but “in the end, no settlement was reached.”

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