The Great British Bake Off’s move to Channel 4 was “not a snatch” from the BBC, C4's boss has claimed.

Chief executive David Abraham blamed market forces for the high £75 million purchase of the rights to the hit show which caused controversy and lost three of its stars.

He told MPs: "We didn’t steal Bake Off from the BBC... We only intervened at the point the decision was being made to leave the BBC. This was not a snatch."

He claimed that viewers love the new-look Bake-off, which retained one of the judges, Paul Hollywood, but lost Mary Berry, and presenters Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc. In came Sandy Toksvig.

Speaking to Commons Culture Committee, the outgoing chief executive called said the series was a “commercial hit” and said it was helping to pay for “other parts that are not profitable.

He said revenue from adverts linked to the show was essentially covering the budget of the flagship Channel 4 News programme.

Tory MP Rebecca Pow labelled the channel's version of Bake-off “old hat”.

But Charles Gurass, Channel 4's chair, a defended the reported £75 million acquisition of “the biggest show on television”, saying millions of pounds of ad money would have gone to rival channels otherwise.