The return this week of The Great British Bake Off could set a new record for the most-watched programme of the year so far.

Audiences for the hit cookery show are among the biggest on British television, with ratings regularly topping 10 million.

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

For Bake Off to become the most-watched show of the year, it needs to beat 12.5 million. This was the total audience for the edition of Britain’s Got Talent broadcast on 16 April.

Bake Off has become one of the BBC’s most precious properties and is incredibly popular with viewers and critics alike.

No fewer than seven episodes made it into the top 10 highest-rated programmes of 2015.

The first episode of last year’s series had a provisional overnight audience of 9.3 million. The official figure, once catch-up viewers had been added, was 11.6 million.

Besides setting a record for the most-watched programme of the year, BBC bosses will be hoping the show also performs strongly enough to top the ratings every week – as it did in 2015.

But it will face competition from ITV’s The X Factor and fellow BBC programme Strictly Come Dancing, both of which are due to return at the end of the month.

This year’s batch of 12 amateur bakers hoping to rise to Bake Off glory includes a pastor, a PE teacher and an aerospace engineer.

The oldest contestant in this year’s line-up will be Lee, a 67-year-old who has worked in various pastoral ministries for the past 30 years, while this year’s youngest contestant is Michael, a 20-year-old from London who is studying politics and economics at Durham and claims he has spent most of the year cooking with a bowl, a wooden spoon and a £5 electric mixer.

Last year’s winner was Nadiya Hussain, who famously made Mary Berry cry during the emotional 2015 final.

She has released her first cookbook, Nadiya’s Kitchen, and has a children’s book titled Nadiya’s Bake Me A Story on the way.

Hussain has made a number of appearances on Loose Women, is a columnist for the Times and Essentials magazine, has filmed a TV series tracing her roots in Bangladesh and appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs. She will also judge CBBC series Junior Bake Off.

The mother-of-three said: “I’ve been busy and having a lot of fun since winning, with some fantastic opportunities. My children say I’m living my dreams.”

Winning the show has led to many unexpected experiences, not least “the privilege of making the Queen’s 90th birthday cake”, she said.

About The Author

Sean Murphy

Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.

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