The Great British Bake Off was as successful as winner Candice Brown’s chocolate cake and sausage rolls as the final episode of the seventh series scored its highest viewing figures ever.
An average of 14 million TV fans tuned in to watch as Brown was named Bake Off champion, compared with the overnight average of 13.4 million who watched Nadiya Hussain take the crown last year.
The popular programme peaked with an audience 14.8 million in overnight figures, although numbers are set to rise as people watch later on catch-up services.
Charlotte Moore, director of BBC Content, said: “BBC One brought over half of the British viewing public together to watch the final of The Great British Bake Off, delivering the highest ever ratings!”
She congratulated the Bake Off team and thanked the “loyal fans over the last seven series” before adding that there will be two Bake Off specials at Christmas ahead of its move to Channel 4 next year.
The final marked the last time Mary Berry will serve as a judge and Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins as hosts before judge Paul Hollywood switches channel with the programme, apart from the forthcoming festive specials.
PE teacher Brown, 31, took the coveted title ahead of rivals Jane Beedle and Andrew Smyth.
Following the keen baker’s win, eagle-eyed fans spotted a ring on the third finger of her left hand in a recent picture on Instagram and suggested she might be engaged to her long-term boyfriend Liam.
He featured in the episode, hugging and kissing her as he congratulated her, but she was not wearing an engagement ring during filming.
After the winner was announced at a celebration attended by the family and friends of the three finalists, as well as the other nine bakers knocked out in previous rounds, Brown admitted: “When they said my name that means more to me than anyone will ever realise.
“I have low self-belief, even though my friends and family constantly build my confidence up. So it was a big moment in my life, probably the biggest so far.
“I felt that everything happens for a reason, and I did it, and that makes me smile so much. In fact, I can’t stop smiling.”
Brown, Rolls-Royce aerospace engineer Smyth and garden designer Beedle appeared to be neck and neck throughout the final, during which they tackled a showstopper challenge hailed by the hosts as “the biggest ever final challenge in Bake Off history”.
To fit in with the royal theme of the week, to mark the Queen’s 90th birthday, the bakers were tasked with creating a picnic fit for the monarch - one chocolate celebration cake, 12 puff pastry sausage rolls, 12 mini quiches, 12 savoury scones and 12 fruit and custard tarts.
Brown’s picnic was universally praised, with even her bacon, mushroom and black pudding sausage rolls getting a seal of approval, and her chocolate cake was also deemed delicious.
After the final Brown revealed she had hidden her winner’s trophy in an antique chest.
She added: “I love baking and this has increased my love of baking. If I can get my little vintage shop selling tea and cakes with random antiques that would be my ultimate dream.
“Let’s wait and see what will come my way but I will be grabbing it with both hands and running with it, that’s for sure. It would be crazy not to, wouldn’t it?”