The Great British Bake Off: How do they keep the winner a secret?

There is arguably no better kept secret than the winner of one of the country’s most loved reality television shows, the BBC’s ‘Great British Bake Off’ (“GBBO”), which reached its climax on Wednesday with Nadiya Hussain being crowned the winner. With the final having been filmed several months ago, Mrs Hussain has reportedly, until now, kept the trophy hidden under her bed. Furthermore, the cast and crew of the BBC and the Production Company, ‘Love Productions’, along with any friends and family that attended the tea party final, have had to keep the public in the dark as to her triumph.


Now that GBBO has come to an end for another year, and with another pre-filmed reality show, ‘The Apprentice’ about to begin, we summarise below some steps that may have been taken to keep the winner a secret so that you too can keep what matters to your business, confidential:

  1. There is no doubt that information such as the winner of GBBO is information that the BBC’s and Love Production’s employees would have been bound to keep confidential under the term of ‘mutual trust and confidence’ that is implied into every employment contract. However, if you want to take further precautions, you should consider either an express term of confidentiality in the employment contract or a separate agreement that imposes obligations in relation to confidentiality and non-disclosure. You should also consider any other policies that may be appropriate, as well as training to ensure staff are aware of their obligations and the potential consequences of breaching them.

  2. If, like the television industry, you deal with contractors and those contractors are likely to have access to or become aware of confidential information, you should ensure that, as with employees, confidentiality is adequately dealt with in contracts or that all contractors sign a confidentiality agreement before their contract begins.

  3. You may have dealings with third parties with whom your business has no legal relationship, such as was the case with the friends and families of GBBO contestants, but who you wish to ensure keep sensitive information confidential. In such circumstances, consider a confidentiality agreement. Depending on the circumstances, these can take the form of a simple one page agreement or a detailed and formal non-disclosure agreement. Whichever form you choose, ensure that the confidential information is accurately and adequately defined and that the agreement offers you sufficient protection and remedies.

  4. As well as contracts with staff, contractors and visitors, the team behind GBBO will also have had agreements in place with other entities such as the owners of Welford Park in Berkshire, where GBBO is filmed. In such circumstances, and where appropriate, your commercial agreements should contain tightly drafted confidentiality clauses. As well as confidentiality clauses, you may want to consider other clauses, such as data protection clauses and intellectual property clauses, that also restrict the use and disclosure of confidential information.

  5. In order to limit the risk of a leak, there will have been people and entities involved with GBBO who did not need to know the identity of the winner until the airing of Wednesday’s final. This will no doubt be something the BBC and Love Productions takes even more seriously in light of, as yet unsubstantiated, concerns raised by Ladbrokes that insiders have been gambling on the winner. You should consider carefully who needs to know what within your business and limit access to sensitive information accordingly. This may involve a review of your IT systems, consideration of how and where confidential information is stored and consideration of any insurance policies that you may wish to take out to protect you against losses.

  6. Sometimes confidential information is disclosed, intentionally or unintentionally – take, for example, Mary Berry’s disclosure on the Chris Evans’ Radio 2 breakfast radio show (before the GBBO episode was aired) that Dorret Conway would be the third contestant to leave the show. If this happens, act quickly to limit the damage caused and seek early legal advice. Assess the potential damage, who needs to be notified of the breach, and what remedial action is required. You should consider this even if the information is disclosed by someone with whom you have no legal relationship as you may still have a cause of action if the person disclosing the information was or should have been aware that the information was confidential. This duty of confidentiality can be imposed on third parties, if the circumstances are right, independent of any pre-existing relationship.

Despite Mary Berry’s slip up, and possible attempts to cash in on the secrecy surrounding the winner, GBBO is a great example of confidentiality provisions working – after all, 13.4 million viewers tuned in to see who would be crowned the best baker of them all.