Will return of The Great British Bake Off set most-watched record?

GBBO's 2016 contestants gather in the baking tent (Picture: BBC)

GBBO's 2016 contestants gather in the baking tent (Picture: BBC)

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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 a whopping 15.1 million people seeing Nadiya Hussain crowned Bake Off champion.

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For this year’s debut 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 April 16.

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 smash hit 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 in Durham.

• The Great British Bake Off returns to BBC One on August 24 at 8pm.

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