THIS year’s Great British Bake Off could be axed over safety concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The hit Channel 4 show is the jewel in the network’s autumn schedule and this time last year was already being heavily advertised.
With its usual August start date inching closer, Love productions – who make the show – have admitted they might have to pull the plug until 2021.
A spokesman told The Sun: “We are working hard to deliver Bake Off to the audience this year, the priority is the safety of everyone involved in the production of the series.”
Bosses have already banned coveted ‘Hollywood handshakes’ from being dished out by judge Paul.
The rare moments of recognition have become a popular part of the show but will be scrapped in the next series to avoid any possible transmission of the virus.
Meanwhile last month The Sun revealed pensioners had been banned from Bake Off due to the risk posed to them by Covid-19.
The show had always welcomed wrinklies in their late sixties and seventies.
But younger, less-vulnerable contestants have been lined-up for the new series instead.
TV insiders said execs are terrified of the possibility that a contestant may fall ill during filming.
That would force production to shut down and potentially could cost producers millions of pounds.
A source said: “There’s a real sense of urgency to get the next series of Bake Off in the can, considering it’s one of Channel 4’s biggest draws.
“That means the nation’s baking grans and grandads have been deemed too high risk. Bake Off’s wizened contestants are often the heart of the show.
“Val, who would ‘listen’ to cakes to work out if they were done, and rapping septuagenarian Flo became favourites.
“WI member Diane Beard was responsible for the show’s most iconic moment: Baked Alaska-gate. It’s a shame characters are rejected on account of age.”
Cast and crew on Bake Off will have to quarantine together after judge Prue Leith, who is 80, was refused insurance.
The new edition of Bake Off will have Little Britain comedian Matt Lucas, 46, making his debut as host alongside Noel Fielding, 47, with judges regular Prue and Paul Hollywood.