Entertainment & Arts

Great British Bake Off: More than 10 million tune in to first episode

Warning: this story contains spoilers.

Bake Off contestants

The Great British Bake Off attracted an average of 10.4 million viewers as it returned for a seventh series - a record opener for the BBC One show.

The episode was watched by 47.5% of all television viewers with a peak audience of 11.2 million at 20:50 BST.

That means it beat the most-watched moments of the Rio Olympics, which peaked at 11.1 million viewers.

Judge Paul Hollywood said the show was going "back to basics" this year, with critics praising its winning recipe.

Twelve new bakers were seen entering the Bake Off tent on Wednesday, tackling drizzle cakes, Jaffa cakes and a genoise sponge.

Jane Beedle was named the first star baker of the series while church minister Lee Banfield - the oldest contestant at 67 - was the first to leave after Hollywood said one of his cakes was too dry.

Image caption Jane Beedle was the first contestant to be judged star baker

Banfield said: "I've always enjoyed baking and at church I do regular baking demonstrations. I won't show the congregation how to make a Jaffa cake, I am not going to repeat that experience - I'll buy them a pack instead."

Beedle, 61, seemed shocked to be first to receive the star baker accolade, after impressing with a lemon and poppy seed drizzle cake and a chocolate and orange cake in the final round.

'Well-oiled machine'

Michael Hogan, in the Telegraph, noted the series had arrived "in the nick of time to haul the nation out of its post-Olympic slump".

He said: "The judges slipped straight back into their good cop/bad cop routine, while presenters Mel and Sue pepped up proceedings with double entendres and downright silliness.

"Bake Off's format is a well-oiled (well-buttered?) machine and it would be foolish to change a winning recipe."

Image caption Lee Banfield, seen with host Sue Perkins and judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, was the first to leave the show

Jan Moir, in the Daily Mail, said it had been a "triumphant return" for the show.

"Beautifully edited, winningly constructed, it remains a cinnamon-scented, familiar old friend which has lost none of its charm or flair," she said.

She also noted the innuendo for which the programme has become famous - both from the contestants themselves and hosts Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc - was "present and correct".

The Guardian's Tim Dowling said the "gas had been turned up a notch" for the series opener.

"While it remains every inch the cosy affair you remember from past seasons, it sometimes has the feel of a wildly popular spectator sport desperately clinging to amateur status," he said.

"Over the years GBBO has evolved into a ratings champion, a celebrity mill and a major driver of weird-ingredient panic buying. No amount of bunting can disguise the pressure-cooker atmosphere."

In The Independent, Sally Newell said: "What I love about this show, apart from its warm predictability, is that for an hour, the only problems in the world are Bake Off."

She mused: "If only every day could be a Bake Off day."

Some 13.4 million people tuned in to see Nadiya Hussain win the last series, making it the most-watched programme of 2015.

Last year's opening episode was watched by 9.3 million viewers, according to overnight figures, peaking at 10 million.

The Chronicles of Nadiya, a two-part series about Bangladesh hosted by Hussain, debuted straight after Bake Off and was seen by 4.5 million, a 20.5% share of the audience.

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