TV Overnights: Head to head drama as ITV1’s A Mother’s Son defeats BBC One’s Accused

05 Sep 2012  |  Niall Johnson 

After the runaway success of hyper-intrusive Channel 4 documentary series One Born Every Minute, it was only a matter of time before the BBC attempted a similarly-foetal focused programme (with a more informative angle, naturally).

The ratings triumph of their own drama series Call the Midwife at the beginning of this year only cemented the acceptance of watching strangers in labour pain as a form of entertainment.

The BBC's effort to quench this particular niche thirst arrived on our screens six weeks ago in the form of The Midwives (BBC Two, 9pm). The candid series, which last night secured a 9% share, broke down the hospital walls of One Born and followed three community midwives from St. Mary's Hospital in Manchester as they made their house calls. The final episode attracted 2.2 million viewers, down -13% on the series opener in July.

Earlier on BBC One was EastEnders (7pm) and Phil Mitchell was still getting the cold shoulder. They say time heals all wounds but stalwart of negativity Shirley just can't get past the fact her ex boyf helped cover up the murder of her best mate. Walford is probably not the best place for the more sensitive among us.

Last night Phil saw his chance to swoop in and save his beloved from an aggressively amorous (and possibly very drunk) admirer. Unfortunately, his heroic and selfless actions failed to soften Shirley's caustic mood. The absence of Coronation Street helped EastEnders stray above the 7 million mark and grabbed a 35% share, resulting in Tuesday's biggest audience.

Things were a bit more pleasant over on BBC Two afterwards, although behind the agreeable scenery the tension could have easily matched an E20 Christmas. The remaining nine brave souls in The Great British Bake Off (8pm) stepped up to the challenge mercilessly dished out by Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry - the dreaded desserts. The fourth episode (out of sixteen!) reached back over the 4 million viewers after last week's slight dip, resulting in an 18% share.

Emmerdale grabbed ITV1's biggest audience at 7pm, with a 31% share. After leaving a gate open two weeks ago, Robbie's evil doings stepped up a notch. What malevolent mind games had he up his sleeve last night?

Well, it turns out he mightn't be the evil genius Emmerdale is calling out for. Tuesday saw him bringing a Katie 'doppelganger' (anyway, I'm sure that was the brief the casting department was given - she actually looked nothing like her) to Home Farm with the sole intention of freaking the real one out. 5.8 million people tuned in for the latest round of rural psychological warfare, securing a 31% share.

Back over on BBC One and Holby City (8pm) was still on our screens. 4.6 million viewers caught up with the latest ward-based dramas, grabbing a 20% share. This was followed immediately afterwards by the final round of harrowing injustice from BAFTA-winning writer Jimmy McGovern.

The final episode in the second series of Accused (BBC One, 9pm) broke from the traditional stand-alone format and was directly linked to last week's distressing crime. Last night the attention was on Tina, a sturdy prison officer charged with looking after last week's perpetrator Stephen.

As you might expect by now, a series of awful events led Tina directly to the dock herself, with viewers hoping in vain to witness some kind of happy ending to the series. Ratings have steadily declined since the opening Sean Bean episode four weeks ago which secured 5.3 million viewers. Tina's story attracted the lowest audience yet, with 3.3 million (a 14% share) people watching. Although it did have ITV1 to contend with.

The concluding part to middle class nightmare, A Mother's Son, also went out at 9pm. Even though the subject matter dealt with the possibility that a mother's teenage son was responsible for the death of a girl, it was probably light relief compared to the last four weeks in Jimmy McGovern's world.

The second part of the tense thriller starring Hermione Norris and Doc Martin was watched by almost the exact same amount of viewers as the previous night, bringing 4.1 million people to ITV1. A 17% share tuned in to see if a Mother knew best against an onset of healthy paranoia.

Overnight data is available each morning in mediatel.co.uk's TV Database, with all BARB registered subscribers able to view reports for terrestrial networks and key multi-channel stations.

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