It is fashionable, particularly for middle aged men, to claim that they don’t care about the row over Channel 4 poaching the popular baking show from the BBC. Why is this a news story? Who cares?

Nonsense, I say, even though I have never knowingly watched the programme. But the Bake Off row is absolutely fascinating in the way it reveals how modern Britain works and demonstrates the risks of wanting too much. I am glued to the row, not the programme. It is a contemporary parable.

And lo, two ambitious and astute independent television executives ‎from Love Productions, Richard and Anna, did attend a village fete deep in Middle England. Look at the enthusiasm of the amateur bakers, said Richard to Anna, for the ladies (and men) baking are pretending it is all fun but clearly they hate their rival bakers and will do anything to win.

Indeed, said Anna, is there a way to utilise this village fete baking model in a traditional but multicultural televisual setting? Yes, said Richard. Get Mel and Sue to host it. This is going to be great.

No, said all the broadcasters, who always want a show to be a blend of existing shows – Songs of Praise meets Fawlty Towers meets Match of the Day. The idea of a wholly new show, even with familiar elements such as cakes, is too radical for the BBC where the apparently groovy commissioning editors stick it to the man by refusing to wear a suit but then commission a load of conservative, safe, focus grouped rubbish.

And then a merciful BBC commissioning editor did turn up saying “oh, ok we’ll give your Bake Off thingy a go”. Richard and Anna ‎were commissioned, and Mel and Sue, along with a lady called Mary and an implausibly nice man called Paul.

Bake Off aired for many series, producing numerous spin-offs and  marketing opportunities. Some of the resulting books sold more copies than the bible, until by law everyone in Britain had to produce their own baking or cookery book. It will not be a surprise if Nigel Farage launches a Brexit illustrated guide to British bar snacks in time for the Christmas market.

But the people from Love Productions grew restless. Richard and Anna had sold a large slice (70%) of their company to Sky.‎ Verily they had been heavily incentivised. When the time came to renegotiate the contract with the Beeb they wanted even more money.

No, said the BBC, for we have “nurtured” this show, which is television-speak for putting it on the telly. And it was also an age of austerity in which the BBC management had grown wary of always signing large cheques on demand.

Inexplicably, Channel 4 stepped forward. The “edgy” broadcaster that puts on nude dating shows, signed a cheque for £25m a year for three years and announced with glee that Bake Off was migrating channel. Somehow they had agreed this without any of the original stars definitely being signed up. This was perplexing, agreed all the media experts, for it meant Channel 4 had just spent £75m on a large tent with no presenters.

Mel and Sue being canny types made it look as though they were being public spirited in sticking with the Beeb and declining to switch channel. But they are clever telly people with good agents who will have calculated that this financial sacrifice will earn them several decades of reliable work at the BBC and a guest entry pass to the national treasure lounge. Mary’s husband said that his wife had not signed anything to move to Channel 4. She knows what side her banana cake is buttered on. Paul sat at home stroking his beard thinking of the perfect Victoria sandwich sponge.

Alas, Channel 4 has cocked this up, and much of the allure of the show was always its inherent BBCness, said all bar a few TV writers. Everyone else sensible knew that Love Productions had burnt the cakes. They had deflated their soufflé. Their meringues were in meltdown.

First to nail it, predictably, was the Daily Mail, which with its uncanny genius for taking the temperature of the people of Middle England declared on page 1 on Wednesday: “Bake Off is Doomed!”

The fans of the programme agreed and went into uproar, which really means tutting a bit when they see the row reported on the news. ‎Channel 4 and Love Productions pretended to be nonchalant about the row. They released perky press statements of the kind that are always produced by organisations trying to pretend that all is well when behind the scenes everyone is freaking out

And in this way, Richard and Anna did teach Britain the parable of Bake Off. Don’t mess with Middle England. Be thankful for wot you got. Do not let your eyes get bigger than your belly.

It is such a British story, which reminds me of some of the problems in the deal-hungry City. The Bake Off set-up pre-row suited everyone. The audience loved it. Everyone was doing nicely and good money was being made, but for Love productions here was the “life-changing” deal of the century. One can imagine the advisors and financial people egging them on. You made this show! Not a penny less than £25m! You have created a global bakery brand and now you need to monetise it! And now they have a ruined former top show on their hands, no presenters and the Daily Mail on their tail.‎ But a large cheque, which may help dull the pain.