TV Overnights: The X Factor and Downton Abbey secures a huge Sunday for ITV1

01 Oct 2012  |  Niall Johnson 

The combined power of the hyper talent show and period dramas result in a very strong end to the weekend for ITV1.


Friday evening's viewing was dominated by the usual array of soaps and a nice sit-down with Piers Morgan, who may have finally ran out of decent connections.

Emmerdale (ITV1, 7pm) was the first show to see a surge in viewers on Friday, with 6.2 million people tuning in for the latest drama from the Yorkshire Dales. The first visit of the day to Coronation Street followed straight afterwards and Tyrone's week was shaping up to be up there with the worst of them.

Dealing with a violent partner with ferocious mood swings, a new-born baby and a mother-in-law on the run is enough for the best of men, let alone the Street's resident simpleton. Tyrone kicked off another happy weekend by finding out that baby Ruby had disappeared from the house. 7.3 million viewers (a 36% share) caught up with the mechanic's latest bout of wide-eyed panic, securing the biggest audience of the night for ITV1.

Over on BBC One at 8pm was the last trip of the week to Walford. The blatantly obvious romantic tension continued between Syed and Danny but, as is tradition in soapland, Christian remained oblivious. Even when he interrupted them and they proceeded to act in an amazingly awkward manner. EastEnders managed to secure 6.6 million viewers, resulting in a 31% share.

It was back over to Weatherfield's cobbles at 8:30pm and something good and bad awaited Tyrone as he returned home from his frantic baby searching. The good news; Baby Ruby was alive and well, waiting there with Kirsty's estranged father. The bad news; Kirsty's father is also a mentalist and proceeded to slap seven shades out of Tyrone, with the fight tumbling out on to the street (which is also soap tradition). Ah well, this week might be more relaxing. The second episode was down on the first, with 6.8 million viewers tuning in for spud-headed Tyrone's latest round of beatings.

It would appear viewers were mentally exhausted after all that excitement, as Piers Morgan's Life Stories pulled in 3.5 million viewers. I'm sure when he dreamt up the show, Piers imagined a non-stop line of former Bonds, European royalty, Murdochs and 60's it-girls, all willing to confide in moon-faced Uncle Piers.

Friday saw him truly scraping the bottom of the barrel - his guest was Denise Welch, a woman who redefined the term 'overshare'. If there was something you didn't already know about the presenter and Big Brother contestant's private life then this was your opportunity to lap up all the grimy details of the loose woman's extremely messy life. The interview, which veered towards heights of the journalistic experience, attracted a 17% audience share.


Saturday sounded the death knell for the Pond's time travelling adventures after two and a half series in the TARDIS.  The Eleventh Doctor, Amy and Rory arrived in Manhattan, to save the city from the childhood scarring Weeping Angels. This was the final episode before the Christmas special, which will see the introduction of new hyper-annoying Dalek assistant Oswin. 5.9 million viewers watched the latest time travelling hitch hikers reach the end of their journey, in a genuinely harrowing fashion, with an audience share of 27% waving Amy and Rory farewell.

Many have alluded to the fact that the arrival of Simon Cowell's talent show heralded the end of days but this now may be a tangible fact. Saturday's episode of The X Factor alone ensured that the sea levels will devastate humanity as climate change was speeded up transporting the show to four of the judge's 'homes'.

Boasting a carbon footprint bigger than the UK, Saturday saw the judges fly their hopefuls to the most vulgar, tasteless places on Earth, giving them a taste of the empty lifestyle that awaits them if they jump through enough flaming hoops. Also on board were top artistes of the day like Cheryl Cole, Ne-Yo and Tinie Tempah who had some tatty wares to promote.

8.3 million viewers watched the desperate, over excitable competitors scream their way around Dubai and Vegas, resulting in an impressive 36% share.


The madness spilled over in to Sunday because the format just begged to be strung out for as long as possible. In a glorious cull to appease the god of ratings, the remaining contestants were viciously cut in half. There were tears, HIGH emotions and more script writers than is needed on a year of Home & Away. The results show actually did better than Saturday's offering, with 9.4 million tuning in to see who will make it to the live shows. Lots of eyes will be watching how the audience translates to the even more repetitive live shows as viewers have been lower than usual this year.

A world away from the overblown hysteria was Downton Abbey on ITV1 at 9pm. The third episode of the third series saw the Crawley's financial struggles continue, with talk of the Abbey being downsized. The episode also saw the arrival of Lady Edith Crawley's big day, although there were whispers that her marriage to an elderly Sir Anthony wasn't strictly for love. A whopping  9.6 million viewers watched as plans were made to move to grubby Downton Place, up 1 million viewers from the series debut two weeks ago.

Coverage of the Ryder Cup 2012 teed off at 4pm on Sky Sports 1 and viewers built steadily throughout the day as the Europeans stole a surprise victory from the Americans. An average audience of 1.3 million viewers stayed tuned for the entire coverage with the audience peaking to 2 million viewers around 10:30pm as Olazabal went all X Factor and was overcome with emotion, dedicating his win to his dead mate Seve Ballesteros. Everyone has a sob story.

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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