TV Overnights: Combined draw of Downton and The X Factor secures Sunday for ITV1

15 Oct 2012  |  Niall Johnson 

The weekend saw a topsy turvy chain of events leading to EastEnders securing Friday night, Strictly beating The X Factor on Saturday and The X Factor beating Strictly on Sunday.


Friday night's audience peaked early on in the evening, with the regular trip to Walford providing the day's biggest attraction. For the sixth millionth time since her most recent return, Sharon Watts Mitchell Rickman packed her bags to leave Walford, once and for all.

Not to worry drama fans, within half an hour the confused vagrant had changed her mind yet again and decided to move in with Jack Branning. She also decided to celebrate Friday night by informing her six year old son about the messy particulars of his father's death. 6.3 million viewers watched the latest drama on EastEnders (BBC One, 8pm) down slightly from the usual Friday night audience but still managed a 27% share.

No matter how much attention grabbing antics Sharon pulled, there was a core audience she had no chance of securing. England's latest World Cup Qualifier was pretty much a walk through the park. After half an hour of pre-match hype by Adrian Chiles the game kicked off at 8pm on ITV1 - surprisingly it took a whole 35 minutes for England to score against Most Serene Republic of San Marino.

The stunningly beautiful state only has a population of around 35,000, so England's 5-0 win might be something of a hollow victory. Still though, it makes a change. An average audience of 5.5 million viewers watched England sail to conquest, peaking at 7 million for the first of two goals from Wayne Rooney.

9pm on BBC One saw the return of Have I Got News For You for a 44th series. Still fresh after all these years (being a current affairs show helps, though) the new series kicked off with recent national treasure Clare Balding, who you'd think would be on a long holiday after the intense Olympic and Paralympics' coverage. Five million viewers tuned in to see Ken Livingstone prove to everyone he had a great sense of humour, pulling in a 22% share.

Bespectacled goon Alan Carr welcomed the nation's favourite damaged wee pet, Cheryl Cole, on to his sofa on Alan Carr: Chatty Man at 10pm on Channel 4. The 'interview' saw  Cheryl pretending to be like the rest of us, while simultaneously plugging too many projects to mention in one space. Two million people tuned in, resulting in a 12% share.


Strictly Come Dancing (BBC One, 6:30pm) kicked off the big spectacular that is Saturday evening programming. After four weeks of procrastination (and maybe a little training) the competition finally got underway as 14 celebrities danced and smiled for the nation's love and approval. A seriously impressive 9.9 million viewers tuned in for two whole hours of an excessive combination of sharp movement and glittering sequins, attracting a 44% share.

The spectacle saw a drop to 9.2 million viewers in the last ten minutes as the on-going soap opera that is The X Factor (8:20pm) got under way over on ITV1. Fans of drawn out reality shows were in for yet another treat as the live show also lasted two hours.

The real challenge was for the judges though; how many times can they repeat the same statement week after week, year after year and still make it sound so fresh? 8.5 million viewers  (a 36% share) watched to see if Gary Barlow would throw another strop after last week - he was in charge of the old people (aged 28 plus) who simply have no chance against a group of Beiber clones singing songs about subjects 12 year old girls won't find threatening.

Thankfully, BBC One found some time to produce and broadcast drama of the scripted kind too. The second episode in the fifth series of Merlin (8:30pm) was down slightly on last week's opening six million.

5.7 million viewers tuned in to see the concluding part of Arthur's Bane resulting in a 23% share. Reliable hospital drama Casualty followed at 9:10pm and pulled in 3.9 million viewers.

After the BBC News viewers were in for a gritty surprise as Good Cop finally returned for the final episode. The gripping drama was postponed a number of weeks ago, after the murder of two police officers in Manchester, and ended up losing momentum with viewers. This resulted in the fourth and final, brutal episode seeing its usual audience shrink by half, resulting in two million viewers and a 13% share.


The clean-up of Saturday's night's mess began with Strictly Come Dancing at 6:50pm on BBC One which saw celebrity-botherer Richard Arnold and Johnny Ball facing dance off in the Thunderdrome. It was the 74 year old TV presenter that the viewers sent packing, with eight million (a 25% share) of them tuning in to see an old man's heart break. From that point onwards, Sunday night belonged to ITV1.

There was an hour long edition of Coronation Street (you know, just like the double episodes but without a half an hour EastEnders break in the middle) at 7 pm and the residents were still reeling from Our Tracy's revelations. The move to Sunday to accommodate the England game on Friday affected the drama's reach with 'only' 6.3 million viewers tuning in, resulting in a 25% share.

This was followed by The X Factor Results at 8pm - a simple process stretched out over a whole hour. This didn't affect the popularity of the show however as 9.4 million viewers watched as a cringy childband were saved while yet again an actual woman who could sing was culled, resulting in a 35% share.

New totty on the block Ivy Stuart was turning heads in Downton Abbey at 9pm. The hot scrubber gained the attention of footman Alfred Nugent, which in itself brought on the wrath of freaky child-servant Daisy. The latest round of historical goings-on attracted an extremely healthy 9.5 million viewers, resulting in an impressive 36% share.

Channel 4's The Million Pound Drop Live Mini-Weekend Round Up


The Million Pound Drop Live (9pm) 1.3 million viewers.


The Million Pound Drop Live (8:30pm) 806,000 viewers (preceded by many, many episodes of Come Dine With Me).


Weirdly enough, there was no The Million Pound Drop Live but Homeland (9pm) got 1.8 million viewers.

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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