As Bake Off kicks off tonight poll shows it’s our all-time favourite reality talent show

Our all-time favourite reality talent show. Photo: EmmanuelD - Fotolia

Our all-time favourite reality talent show. Photo: EmmanuelD - Fotolia

Since its humble beginnings on BBC 2 in 2010, Great British Bake Off in the last six years has become a national institution and a ratings juggernaut, with last year’s final attracting more than 15 million viewers and making it the biggest television event of 2015.

And with the culinary classic hitting our screens again tonight, not only are TV insiders predicting it will be the most watched hour of television in 2016 so far, but a poll shows it’s by far and away the nation’s favourite reality talent show, completely outshining the likes of Strictly, Britain’s Got Talent and the X-Factor and well ahead of its biggest foodie TV rival MasterChef.

The survey by digital retailer Very also found that it is the show we are most likely to take to social media to tweet or talk about on Facebook.

It’s the show’s controversial moments, as well as some superb baking and fantastic baking-banter between hosts Mel and Sue, and the wonderful Mary Berry, that make it such a ratings smash. And it seems the show is also having a positive impact on retailers, with some even noticing a surge in television sales ahead of the show’s return that rivals demand usually seen ahead of big sporting events.

“Big TV events such as the Olympics often result in a peak in sales of televisions as people want to feel like they’re part of the action. But it’s not just sport on the box that can lead to a spike and last year we actually saw an increase in searches for TVs in the run up to The Great British Bake Off,” said Brendan Shepard from digital retailer Very.

“With Bake Off now probably the biggest TV show in Britain, we expect to see this trend again this year, with everyone getting ready for another autumn of exciting telly.”

The survey also shows whether it’s Bake Off or box sets, we are still a nation of TV addicts, with a third of Brits saying they would prefer to stay in and watch TV than go out, while one in ten have not left the house for an entire weekend because they are so engrossed in a TV series or boxset.

Game of Thrones was voted the best boxset or series of all time ahead of Downton Abbey, Breaking Bad, Sex and the City and Band of Brothers.

The fantasy smash hit was also rated as the TV show those who haven’t watched it need to see, ahead of Breaking Bad, House of Cards and Orange is the New Black.