Opinion: What Next For Mel & Sue?

It was interesting this week to see that Mel & Sue decided to quit The Great British Bake Off after it was announced that it will be moving to Channel 4. What will be even more interesting, however, will be to see what they do next.

I assume that their agent’s inbox is currently flooded with offers, overtures and projects. Some of them will be poor copies of Bake Off of course but others will no doubt be very tasty indeed. Giedroyc and Perkins are pretty successful solo performers, but as a package they are invincible. Or are they?

I’ve followed their career since their early days at the Edinburgh Festival in the mid-1990s and what has been curious is how a number of times they have taken three steps forward and then a step or two back. Successes - often grub-based - have boosted their popularity but then things have not always panned out.

Their first big TV break in 1997 was Light Lunch, the frivolous cooking-meets-chat daytime programme on C4. Going out just after noon it was basically breakfast TV for students - a bit of a giggle for late risers. The success prompted C4 to move them to an evening slot, but I’m not sure if Late Lunch captured the same cultish magic. Then ITV signed them up for panel show Casting Couch. Do you remember that? No, me neither. According to Wikipedia it “fared poorly in the ratings and was not recommissioned after its initial 6-episode run.” 

They then built up a steady following as a comedy act and were rewarded with a gig presenting RI:SE, C4’s follow-up to the Big Breakfast that never really had the same Chris Evans/Paula Yates spark. I’m not saying M&S were to blame but the programme was cancelled in 2003.

Then in 2010 after various successful projects together and apart they started co-presenting The Great British Bake Off. Their stock soon gathered pace and ITV had another crack with them, commissioning the daytime chat show Mel & Sue. Once again the response was mixed. My main memory is of a bit of an outcry from animal lovers when they featured a tightrope-walking dog who looked gifted but then struggled to stay up - maybe a metaphor for Mel & Sue’s career?

And so that is where we came in. They are now back on the market and their bargaining power has never been higher. They’ve also scored a lot of brownie points by giving C4 the finger and rejecting the dough. So where will they go next?

If they are really loyal they will do something else with the BBC. But I suspect Sky - and ITV and maybe even Netflix and Amazon Prime and others - are waving virtual cheque books in their direction as we speak. Let’s see if they can a) resist their dough b) find a project that works as well for them as Bake Off. Because what we’ve seen over the years is that with Mel & Sue, despite their obvious talents, some of their projects have been half-baked.

The Great British Bake Off, Wednesdays, 8pm , BBC1. For now anyway.


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