It seems everyone wants a slice of Channel 4’s action, whether homemade or imported. But what exactly is the attraction?

Last week a visitor to the Great British Bake Off set was on the phone to her mother in South Africa. “She was having her hair done at the time, and she said to the hairdresser, my daughter is on the set of The Great British Bake Off,” says its co-creator, Richard McKerrow. “And quick as anything the hairdresser said: ‘Does she know Paul Hollywood? I love him!’”

The story is testament to the extraordinarily successful international reach of the programme, which returns to UK screens this week. It’s now licensed for home-baked productions in no fewer than 35 countries, with Morocco, Mexico and Uruguay the latest in the line-up; in Morocco, the series premiere achieved a lip-smacking 40% audience share. Denmark, France and Sweden all celebrate their 10th season this year, and more than 1,500 episodes have been made across the world, featuring 1,300 bakers.

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