Bake Off flowered to become ratings smash for BBC

With its two witty presenters, a “good cop-bad cop” judging duo and a variety of contestants, The Great British Bake Off proved to have the perfect recipe for ratings success.

Appearing on screens for the first time in 2010, the BBC 2 programme exploded in popularity to become one of the broadcaster’s most popular shows.

Deftly delivering double entendre and gently teasing contestants week-on-week, presenting double act Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc were joined by veteran celebrity cook Mary Berry and steely-eyed baker Paul Hollywood as the no-nonsense judges.

Each episode saw a crop of amateur bakers tested to the limit in the Bake Off marquee before submitting their efforts to Berry and Hollywood for appraisal, with one unlucky contestant ultimately facing the axe.

As its popularity soared the programme moved to BBC One in 2014 and several spin-off shows were spawned, including companion series An Extra Slice and celebrity editions for Comic Relief.

Meanwhile bosses sought to emulate Bake Off’s success by swapping flour and eggs for needles, thread and clay by borrowing from the format for The Great British Sewing Bee and The Great Pottery Throw Down.

Last October 15 million people tuned in to watch Nadiya Hussain be crowned Bake Off winner, making it the most watched programme of 2015.

In the process it launched the mother-of-three’s career as a celebrity chef in her own right with book deals, a newspaper column and other television shows.

Nadiya went on to be picked by Buckingham Palace to cook the Queen’s 90th birthday cake and presented it to her in person.

When Bake Off returned to screens for a seventh season in August the programme drew an audience of more than 10 million – reportedly more than the Rio Olympics attracted at its peak.

Despite the programme’s light-hearted tone it was not immune from controversy.

In 2014 Ofcom faced – but rejected – calls from viewers to investigate the alleged sabotage of contestant Iain Watters’s Baked Alaska.

The show also received complaints over the use of innuendo, although the stars defended the tongue-in-cheek banter as akin to a Carry On film.

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