Great British Bake Off debut one of Channel 4's most-watched shows

Noel Fielding, Sandi Toksvig, Paul Hollywood and Prue LeithImage copyright
Channel 4

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The new series of The Great British Bake Off has been popular with viewers

The first episode of this year’s Great British Bake Off provided one of the biggest audiences in Channel 4’s 35-year history, new figures show.

Full ratings, which includes those who watched the show up to seven days later, ended up at 9.5 million viewers.

No programme has achieved ratings as high since Big Fat Gypsy Weddings had 9.7 million viewers in February 2011.

Channel 4’s creative officer Jay Hunt said: “Bake Off has well and truly landed.”

She added: “I’m thrilled viewers have warmed to Paul, Prue, Noel and Sandi and are enjoying the exceptional standard of baking.”

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Channel 4

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This year’s contestants hoping to win Bake Off

Bake Off’s viewing figures mean it received a place in Channel 4’s top 10 biggest audiences of all time.

The largest audience in Channel 4’s history was for the final episode of the mini-series A Woman of Substance, which was watched by 13.9 million viewers in January 1985.

Among the 9.5 million who watched this year’s opener were 2.7 million 16 to 34-year-olds, making Bake Off the biggest programme for young viewers on any channel so far in 2017.

The full ratings for last year’s launch on BBC One were 13.6 million.

Analysis by BBC media editor Amol Rajan

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Love Productions/Channel 4

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Some of the personnel may have changed but the recipe is pretty much unchanged

In his Poetics, Aristotle says that tragedy contains six elements, and the first two are the most important: plot and character.

His rules apply beyond tragedy of course, to drama more broadly. And the basic ingredients of story-telling haven’t changed much in the past two millennia.

To a very great extent, top quality television is still a union of these two elements.

In poaching Bake Off from the BBC, Channel 4 had to ensure they retained excellent plots and characters.

The former they could largely leave to Love Productions, the independent company which achieved such success with the format on the BBC.

But there are several reasons for this, and Channel 4 wouldn’t have expected to get anywhere near those dizzy heights with their first episodes.

Read more here.

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