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The easiest decision in television? The Walking Dead renewed for a fifth season

The show is a bigger ratings hit than Breaking Bad

US network AMC has confirmed that popular zombie drama The Walking Dead will return for a fifth season in 2014.

The broadcaster's decision can't have been too difficult: 16 million US viewers tuned in to the season four premiere, a figure which rises to 20 million when time-shifted playback is factored in.

By comparison, Breaking Bad scored 10.3m viewers for its acclaimed finale on the same channel.

The Walking Dead is also the number one TV show in the US among the all-important 18-49 demographic.

The horror series has so far won two Primetime Emmys for outstanding prosthetics, and was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Television Series in 2011, but lost out to Boardwalk Empire.

AMC president Charlie Collier said: "Its expanding base of passionate fans has grown every season, most recently – and most notably – with the season four premiere earlier this month, which broke viewership records for the series and became the biggest non-sports telecast in cable history.

"On behalf of the incredible team on both sides of the camera, thank you to the fans and here's to more Dead."

Based on a comic book co-written by the show's executive producer Robert Kirkman, the show launched in 2010 with a six-episode run, and follows the survivors of a zombie apocalypse.

It stars British actors Andrew Lincoln, as deputy sheriff Rick Grimes, and David Morrissey as the Governor, the villainous ruler of the settlement where the survivors live.

The network has also confirmed a spin-off series for 2015 with a completely new cast of characters.