The Great British Bake Off returned to Channel 4 last night and the general public certainly had an appetite for it.
In total, 7.9 million people tuned in to the series premiere, which saw the 12 new Great British Bake Off contestants put their unique spin on a Battenberg before attempting a tricky technical challenge.
However, the main event was the showstopper task in which they were challenged to create a cake sculpture of someone they admire, with predictably hilarious results.
It’s the biggest Great British Bake Off launch Channel 4 has ever seen, beating last year’s premiere by a whopping 1.3 million viewers, and surpassing the broadcaster’s first ever episode by 500,000.
The peak of 7.9 million (average audience 6.9 million) marks Channel 4’s biggest broadcast of 2020 to date and the channel’s highest rating broadcast since the series nine final of Bake Off in 2018.
Of course, we can’t ignore the backdrop of this series; there’s no doubt that a trying year dominated by the pandemic will have boosted interest in Bake Off’s signature brand of friendly optimism.
It appears Channel 4 made the right decision in taking steps to protect the usual format of the competition show, asking its hosts, judges and contestants to form a contained social bubble for the duration of the series.
This allowed them to deliver the same close quarters cooking that fans have become accustomed to, bringing back the iconic Bake Off tent (albeit in the new location).
In a year where most entertainment competitions, including Britain’s Got Talent, Strictly Come Dancing and I’m A Celebrity 2020, have had to significantly alter their format, Bake Off stands out in the schedules as a welcome exception.
This mammoth ratings win is also a promising start to comedian Matt Lucas’ time on the programme, taking over for Sandi Toksvig, who left Bake Off earlier this year.
The former Little Britain star is joining Noel Fielding on the presenting team, while Prue Leith and Paul Hollywood have returned to critique the elaborate bakes.
Originally scheduled to air at 8pm, there was some concern when the Prime Minister’s latest coronavirus briefing was scheduled for the same time.
Fortunately, Bake Off was later delayed by 15 minutes to ensure there was no clash, with almost three million people watching the PM’s message on Channel 4.
The Great British Bake Off continues next Tuesday on Channel 4, catch up on All4. If you’re looking for something else to watch, check out our TV Guide.