BBC lawyers are understood told the corporation that production of a rival show to the Great British Bake Off would not infringe copyright laws, so long as the name and format of any new show were sufficiently changed from the original format.

The Times reported on Sunday that this legal advice could see the BBC rush out a new show before Channel 4 is able to air its own version of the new acquisition.

"We could get something on air before Channel 4 starts its Bake Off in 2018," said a BBC source told The Times.

The BBC lost the rights to broadcast the hit show beyond its current season after refusing to stump up the £25m ($32.42m) fee demanded by its creators, Love Productions.

After offering Love a reported £15m – double the value of their existing contract – the BBC let the Bake Off go, with Channel 4 picking up the new contract.

If the BBC were to launch its own version of the show, they wouldn't have to look too far for presenters, after hosts Mel Geidroyc and Sue Perkins both stood down in the wake of the Bake Off's channel change, stating they would not "go with the dough".Judge

Judge Mary Berry also declined to follow the popular show to its new home out of "loyalty" to the BBC.

"Farewell to soggy bottoms," the 81-year-old said in a statement. It is not clear, however, whether or not the trio would be prepared to host the show under any new guise, as Berry's fellow judge, Paul Hollywood, said he would go with the Bake Off to Channel 4.

The move has divided opinions with some believing the BBC should have found the money for its hugely successful prodigy, while others felt it wrong that Love were able to hold the BBC to ransom in such a way. At last week's Emmy's creator of Sherlock, another successful BBC export,

At last week's Emmy's creator of Sherlock, another successful BBC export, Stephen Moffat weighed in on the debate, saying: "I think the BBC was quite right not to reward greed. It's wrong."

As Great Britain awaits further news on the future of any BBC or Channel 4 incarnations of the national treasure, speculation around possible new hosts has reached fever pitch with Clare Balding, Davina McCall and former Spice Girl Geri Horner (née Halliwell) all touted as possible replacements.