TV Overnights: Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony peaks at 10m viewers for Channel 4

30 Aug 2012  |  Niall Johnson 

Channel 4 stole the show last night as the Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony (8pm) attracted an unprecedented audience. Quick to build on the buzz surrounding Danny Boyle's impressive recent effort, the Channel has been heavily publicising the event in a way that seems to have paid off.

'Enlightenment' was just as spectacularly mental as 'Isle of Wonders' but received bonus points for having Professor Stephen Hawking, Sir Ian McKellen and a giant exploding Christmas pudding right at the centre of the action. An average audience of 7.6 million viewers stayed tuned in for the three plus hours event, resulting in an impressive 39% audience share. The audience peaked at 10.7 million people in the 15 minute time slot leading to 9pm. After a very successful launch night, it will be interesting to see if Channel 4 can keep the momentum going over the next 11 days.

ITV1 peaked very early in to the night with Emmerdale at 7pm. It was the day of the custody battle as Marlon and Rhona locked horns over baby Leo. The rural soap pulled in 5.5 million viewers (a 29% share), the channel's biggest audience of the day.

If you fancied an emotional balance after the first hour of the opening ceremony, BBC One was dutifully on hand to provide a harsh come down. It was Sir Patrick Stewart's turn on the Who Do You Think You Are? (9pm) merry-go-round of buried heartache. The former Starfleet Captain's sights were firmly focused on recent history and, in particular, the messy details of his abusive father's life. Once again there were genuine revelations and tears as the Yorkshire man laid some ghosts to rest.

The journey of discovery was affected by Channel 4's hyperactive offering, with the genealogy show down 1.3 million people since last week's episode; Stewart's rummaging through dusty books attracted 3.6 million viewers in total.

Meanwhile back over on ITV, it looked like someone swapped programing options with Channel 5. Knowing they were well and truly defeated by the bright sparkly explosions on Channel 4, the commercial broadcaster brought out the very definition of filler television. It was, apparently, so hopeless that a repeat of Lewis of Midsomer Murders would have simply been wasteful.

First up was a repeat of The Corrie Years (7:30pm) which once again took us on a stroll down memory lane via the most treacherous street in the country. Last night featured far too much focus on useless-in-life Curly Watts and his unconventional relationship with Raquel. Surprisingly 3.3 million people watched the clip show, bringing about in a 17% share.

Going right up against the opening ceremony was an hour long documentary made of 100% fluff. Super Tiny Animals (8pm) was a hard hitting piece narrated by Jane Horrocks exploring the hidden world of really small dogs that are forced to wear clothes and look cute. Most of the television audience escaped the gravity of the black hole made out of puppy dogs tails and general vacantness.

1.3 million viewers (a 6% share) watched the parade of miniature misery before vacating the room in time to miss nostalgiafest Britain Then and Now (9pm). The show forced residents of an East London street to replicate the celebration of the Queen's coronation in 1953. All with the help of Cheryl Baker. For some reason. 600,000 viewers watched the blatant grab at wistfulness, pulling in a 2.5% audience share.

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.

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