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Niall Johnson 

Return of MasterChef nets serviceable 4.7m for BBC One

Return of MasterChef nets serviceable 4.7m for BBC One

Long-running culinary cook-off, MasterChef (9pm) returned to BBC One's screens last night after the schedule mainstay deprived the TV viewing nation of John Torode and Gregg Wallace's combined beauty for an agonising eight months.

Kind of like a proto-Bake Off, remerging from a time before competitive BBC reality shows were hit hard by the twee stick, the new run of episode attempted to change things up slightly in a contrived effort to keep viewers awake.

The 11th series (the 22nd really, when accounting for the original format, the revamp and the very 90s-sounding MasterChef Goes Large but excluding the numerous celebrity spin-offs) got under way with a slight change to the recipe, although nothing too revolutionary. It would seem that fans of this conventional show are quite happy with the way things are.

The biggest audience in the 9pm slot tuned in to see Torode and Wallace announce they fiddled about with the rules by fast-tracking one lucky contestant through to the third round right after the first. Exciting times.

Like all sturdy and expectable shows, MasterChef opened up with 4.7 million viewers and a 22% share - the biggest in its time slot - before predictably climbing all the way up to around 5.4 million viewers for the grand finale in mid-May. Probably.

The show also managed to come second in the TV Twitter chart, right behind MTV's Ex on the Beach (10pm) which managed 71 tweets per every 1,000 viewers.

As usual, there was a slightly more cerebral experience to be had over on BBC Two as some scientists went on the hunt for some of those bog standard ripples in space-time. Horizon: Aftershock - The Hunt For Gravitational Waves (9pm) secured 1.2 million viewers and a 6% share.

At the same time on Channel 4, One Born Every Minute returned for a seventh series and moved to Europe's largest maternity hospital, Liverpool Women's Hospital, to ensure the producers will never run out of storylines.

1.8 million tuned in for the birthing trauma, Channel 4's biggest hit of the day, resulting in a 9% share.

Meanwhile, just because Channel 5 hasn't managed to keep up with the nation's demand for gawping at random unfortunates living on the fringes of a welfare society, the broadcaster gave us a brand new two-part documentary about lazy TV producers' favourite topic.

The Benefits Estate (9pm) shook things up a bit by dragging viewers all the way to sunny North Dublin to meet some charming characters battling drug addictions, family responsibilities and the horrors of not getting everything they want for free.


1 million viewers tuned in to meet the suspiciously light-hearted and warm show, resulting in a 5% share.

Earlier on ITV, Live UEFA Champions League (7:30pm) blocked up the commercial broadcaster's evening as Real Madrid faced Schalke 04 in Santiago Bernabéu Stadium in Madrid.

Nowhere near as popular as the previous night's FA Cup game on BBC One, an average audience of 2.6 million viewers and a 13% share tuned in, with the game peaked at 9pm with 3.4 million viewers.

At 8pm Holby City kept BBC One above floating the competitors with 4.6 million and a 22% share tuning in for more tales of careers, blood and lust.

At the same time on BBC Two and two years after the David Attenborough collaborated with Sky for the impressive Galapagos 3D, Natural World brought the explorer back to the archipelago of volcanic islands to study the sad influx of humanity and the inevitable toll it takes.

The extremely beautifully shot - but ultimately depressing and worrying - taste of life on the sunny isles helped Galapagos: Islands of Change (8pm) secure 2.3 million viewers and an 11% share.

Much earlier, Emmerdale (7pm) brought in the day's third biggest audience to ITV as 5.6 million viewers caught up with the agricultural adventures of functioning alcoholics, resulting in a 29% share.

Speaking of which, EastEnders (BBC One, 7:30pm) managed to nab the top spot again, with the further adventures of a drunken Kat Slater. 6.9 million viewers watched as the drunken 'mar sobered up and faced her responsibilities and traumatic past, netting a 34% share for the London soap.

Overnight data is available each morning in's TV Database, with all BARB registered subscribers able to view reports for terrestrial networks and key multi-channel stations. Overnight data supplied by TRP are based on 15 minute slot averages. This may differ from tape checked figures, which are based on a programme's actual start and end time.

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