The Great British Bake Off's return cooks up record 10.4m audience

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The return of the Great British Bake Off set an audience record, as 10.4 million people tuned in for the first episode of the seventh series.

Provisional overnight figures show the popular BBC One baking show pulled in 47.5% of television viewers for the return of judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood and presenters Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins.

The figure is higher than for previous launch episodes, with last year's first instalment attracting 9.3 million viewers and 2014´s opening show drawing an audience of 7.18 million.

Bake Off (BBC Pictures)

This year's launch episode had its fair share of drama as church minister Lee Banfield, 67, became the first person to leave.

His bakes failed to impress against the other 11 contestants, with Hollywood telling him: "It's very sad but ... you are one of the 12 best amateur bakers in the country. You should be very proud of yourself."

Last year's baking champion, Nadiya Hussain, continued her popularity streak as she debuted the first episode of her new TV show, The Chronicles Of Nadiya, on BBC One immediately after Bake Off.

The travelling cookery show follows the baker and mother-of-three as she travels to Bangladesh to explore her culinary roots, and was watched by 4.2 million people.

Nadiya & Jamir Ali (Nadiya's Father) (BBC/LoveProductions)

Last year's Bake Off final was the most-watched show of 2015, with a whopping 15.1 million people seeing Nadiya crowned champion.

When catch-up viewers are added, the total ratings for this year's opening episode are likely to be even higher.

More than two million people watched last year's debut in the week after its transmission.

A similar number this year could push Bake Off's ratings above 12.5 million, making it officially the most-watched programme of the year so far.