The BBC has lost its contract to broadcast The Great British Bake Off.

The current series of the popular baking show will be the last to air on the BBC after Love Productions, the company behind the programme, ended talks over renewing the contract.

It is rumoured the programme – with judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood – could now move to ITV.

The Great British Bake Off (BBC/Love Productions/Mark Bourdillon)

Love Productions said: “After an extraordinary six-year journey with the BBC, Love Productions announces with regret that it has been unable to reach agreement on terms to renew the commission of The Great British Bake Off.

“We will now be focusing on finding a new partner to develop the familiar show that the British public turn to in their millions.

“Love Productions would like to thank the BBC for the role it played in making this show such an enormous hit, and the faith they showed in us over the years to develop it.”

A BBC spokesperson said the corporation would love to keep the baking programme.

They said in a statement: “Working with Love Productions, we have grown and nurtured the programme over seven series and created the huge hit it is today.

“We made a very strong offer to keep the show but we are a considerable distance apart on the money. The BBC’s resources are not infinite. GBBO is a quintessentially BBC programme. We hope Love Productions change their mind so that Bake Off can stay ad free on BBC One.”

Statement on Great British Bake Off:

— BBC Press Office (@bbcpress) September 12, 2016

There have long been rumours that ITV was lining up to poach the series when the current contract with the BBC was up.

Last year’s Bake Off final was the most-watched show of 2015, with 15.1 million people seeing Nadiya Hussain crowned champion.

The return of the show in August set an audience record, as 10.4 million people tuned in for the first episode of the seventh series.

The programme, currently airing on BBC One on Wednesday evenings, is hosted by Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins.

Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc (Mark Bourdillon/BBC)