Channel 4 has opened the doors to sponsors for The Great British Bake Off as the show airs on the commercially funded channel for the first time.

The broadcaster said it had already been swamped by interested companies after it announced it was looking for an exclusive sponsorship partner on Thursday.

The hit baking show will return to screens in autumn after moving over from the publicly funded BBC last year.

Bake Off
Channel 4 promised viewers won’t be short-changed on the full hour of drama (Mark Bourdillon/BBC/PA)

It will extend the running time of the traditional one-hour episodes to 75 minutes each to allow for commercial breaks, without cutting any baking drama.

Channel 4 sales director Jonathan Allan said: “As soon as Channel 4 was announced as the new home of Bake Off, we’ve been inundated with interest from advertisers keen to get involved with the biggest show on TV.

“We’re looking forward to working with an exclusive sponsor and a whole host of brands to get creative with their communications around the show to entertain and delight Bake Off viewers.

“As a commercially funded, not-for-profit broadcaster, this advertiser investment will ensure that we can keep quality British shows like Bake Off free to air for viewers.”

Jo Brand will also be returning with her Extra Slice spin-off.
Jo Brand will also be returning with her Extra Slice spin-off (Jon Cottam/PA)

The chosen sponsor is expected to be agreed by July and will be involved with the regular show as well as all connect programmes that have been planned so far, including two Christmas specials, one celebrity special, Jo Brand’s spin-off show Extra Slice and judge Paul Hollywood’s new series, A Baker’s Life.

A spokeswoman for the channel said creators were also thinking of ways to add a “bonkers” twist to the ad breaks themselves.

“We are known for messing about with ad breaks,” she said.

“We are looking at ways of including some of that.”

The channel move kicked off a series of changes for the much-loved baking show, with Mary Berry, Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins stepping down from their roles.

They will be replaced in the new series by Masterchef South Africa star Prue Leith and new presenting duo Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding.