‘Bake Off’ a rat­ings hit for Chan­nel 4 as 6.5m tune in

Irish Examiner - - News - Kerri-Ann Roper and Ian Jones

The Great Bri­tish Bake Off’s de­but on Chan­nel 4 at­tracted a big­ger au­di­ence than any of the show’s launch episodes on BBC Two — but was well down on last year’s opener on BBC One.

An av­er­age of 6.5m peo­ple tuned in to Tues­day night’s episode, giv­ing Chan­nel 4 its high­est overnight au­di­ence for five years, the broad­caster said.

The fig­ure in­cludes those who watched the episode on Chan­nel 4+1.

Bake Off’s big­gest overnight au­di­ence for a launch episode on BBC Two was 5.6m in 2013.

By con­trast the show’s launch on BBC One last year won an overnight av­er­age of 10.4m —al­most 4m above the fig­ure for Chan­nel 4.

The series re­turned to tele­vi­sion screens with three new faces in its line-up: pre­sen­ters Sandi Toksvig and Noel Field­ing, as well as new judge Prue Leith.

Paul Hol­ly­wood was the only mem­ber of the orig­i­nal team to move with the show.

Jay Hunt, Chan­nel 4’s out­go­ing chief cre­ative of­fi­cer, said: “I was ex­cited by the fan­tas­tic re­cep­tion that the show got. It’s fan­tas­tic to see peo­ple warm­ing to Noel from episode one, think­ing that Prue very nat­u­rally stepped into Mary’s shoes and was ex­cel­lent as a judge, and that Sandi was warm and funny and brought her own par­tic­u­lar hu­mour to the tent as well.

“It’s al­ways chal­leng­ing when you launch a new team and it’s re­ally thrilling to see peo­ple warm to them so quickly.”

Dur­ing the Ed­in­burgh In­ter­na­tional Tele­vi­sion Fes­ti­val last week, Hunt re­vealed it was her idea to re­cruit Field­ing.

“I’ve al­ways thought he has huge main­stream ap­peal, he’s just un­known to a large TV au­di­ence be­cause he’s worked in smaller come­dies, so it was thrilling to see an au­di­ence warm­ing to him and to see he has real em­pa­thy for the bak­ers.

“He has got a par­tic­u­larly charm­ing, sur­real turn of phrase that I think works very well in the tent.”

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