“Twelve seasons in and MasterChef Australia is still loved by so many people,” she said. “Food is a universal theme, particularly in times like these, and our show has always been about the food. The cooking, passion and energy in MasterChef Australia this year is amazing and it is going to be a really thrilling season.”

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Media analyst Ian Warner, from Moonlighting Media, said the figures were extraordinary and would have been helped by the extensive coverage of Preston, Mehigan and Calombaris’ departure. Preston and Mehigan have since filmed a new cooking show for the Seven Network called Plate of Origin, which is due out later this year.

“I reckon a lot of people were watching to see if the new guys were really weak,” Mr Warner said. “But they’re not. I think they’re really good. They’ve casted really well.

“In a lot of ways, they’ve been fortunate with their timing. There’s never been a better time to launch a TV show than at the end of a long weekend when everyone’s forced to stay at home. But you can’t put it all on that. Especially considering they’ve got no sport [right now], which is the cornerstone of promoting yourself. So it’s a great result.”

Mr Warner added that Network 10 had a “lot riding” on MasterChef’s success.

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“They’ve put a lot of money into promoting the show,” he said. “As we’ve seen with My Kitchen Rules, these shows have a lot of episodes in the can. If they tank early, they’re stuck with it. If three quarters of the people who watched [on Monday] night out of curiosity stay, then that’s an awesome result.”

The ratings come after MasterChef producers put in place several measures to continue filming during the COVID-19 pandemic. From March, contestants – all of whom have appeared in previous seasons – were told to wear gloves while selecting pantry items and using shared equipment.

Back-slapping and high-fives were also banned and the judges were told not to share food. Viewers will start to see the changes take effect from halfway through season 12, due to the majority of episodes being filmed in advance.



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