MasterChef fans have criticised the BBC for the show’s revamped format, complaining that it’s turned into an ‘X Factor-style competition’.

Viewers have accused the BBC of dumbing down the programme by introducing the new talent-show type auditions in which aspiring chefs have to cook in front of judges Gregg Wallace and John Torode for a place in the competition.

Criticisms have also been made about the new set looking like a nightclub as well as sequences involving interviews with family and friends for being ‘silly and humiliating’.

The new series saw around 20,000 people applying for just 20 places in the final stages of the competition.

Viewers watched the second episode on Wednesday as hopefuls attempted to cook under pressure before facing a critique from John and Gregg and then awaiting their decision as to whether they were good enough to progress to the next stage.

John Torode admitted that the audition process was ‘heartbreaking’ saying: “They want to change their life, MasterChef can change your life. But they know in the audition process if they blow it, then that is gone.”

The BBC said it had received 40 formal complaints about the show, with a spokeman saying the new format gave more people a chance to cook their own food from the outset, and presented a ‘bigger challenge’.

He added: “With such a high standard of cooks coming through the doors, it’s vital that John and Gregg have an informed discusion and agree on the right people to go through to the final 20.”