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Great British Bake Off's return set to see its ratings lift off as Northern Ireland jet engineer makes debut

By Ian Jones

Published 22/08/2016

Bake Off judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry
Bake Off judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry
Andrew layering up his sponges for Bake Off judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry
Andrew layering up his sponges for Bake Off judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry

A young jet engineer from Northern Ireland could be seen by a record-breaking television audience when he hits our screens this week.

The return of The Great British Bake Off could set a new record for the most-watched programme of the year so far.

Hoping to impress judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry will be Co Down Rolls-Royce employee Andrew Smyth.

The 25-year-old former pupil of Sullivan Upper in Holywood, who now lives with friends in Derby, is the son of CBI Northern Ireland director Nigel, a leading voice in the world of business.

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.

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 hit Strictly Come Dancing, both of which return at the end of the month.

Bake Off returns to BBC One on Wednesday at 8pm.

Belfast Telegraph

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