Did a secret legal dispute sour relations between 'The Great British Bake Off' and the BBC?

The makers of GBBO are reported to have accused the BBC of ripping off their format with other shows...

Amateur baking enthusiasts were left in disarray on Monday when news emerged that the phenomenally successful Great Britsh Bake Off (GBBO) is to leave the BBC - before Channel 4 confirmed that it will air the show from 2018.

Love Productions said negotiations with the BBC had been taking place for a full year, with a last-ditch meeting on Monday failing to result in a breakthrough.

Reports today cite a number of sources who claim that the relationship between GBBO makers Love Productions and the BBC had been strained for some time and that the company had taken legal action against the broadcaster for "ripping off" its format.

Business Insider has been told that Love Productions felt that an in-house produced BBC show called 'Hair' stole their format as it sought-out Britain's best amateur hair stylist. A number of reviews of the show highlighted the similarities between the two.

Love also complained that the BBC's 'The Big Painting Challenge' also borrowed the GBBO formula.

One person familiar with the issue told the website said that the BBC, "p***ed Love off," and that when it sought legal advice a format lawyer said that "it was the clearest cut case they’d seen of a format infringement."

The Telegraph says that the BBC paid Love a financial settlement avoid further legal action over the 'Hair' allegation - while 'The Big Painting Challenge' claims are reported to have not resulted in a similar settlement.

The BBC is understood to have offered Love a deal worth £15m to secure the future of the show. The agreement which will see the show skip a year and move to Channel 4 is worth £25m.

Presenters Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins have confirmed that they will not take part in future series.