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Niall Johnson 

Sewing Bee's big move to 9pm slot not so seamless

Sewing Bee's big move to 9pm slot not so seamless

Last night The Great British Sewing Bee (BBC Two) defied its own limited expectations as it was propelled from its usual safe and cosy post-teatime 8pm slot, all the way up to the dizzying heights of prime time.

Yesterday's instalment of the reasonably popular programme - you know, it's just like The Great British Bake Off but without the tension, fun or cakes - saw the remaining contestants being forced to delve into the antiquated past for inspiration.

After debuting with a little over 3 million viewers in mid-February, the sweatshop extravaganza fell to 2.5 million until slowly crawling up to 2.8 million last week.

As the second series of the 'intense' competition hurtles towards its thrilling finale in two weeks' time, it seems the struggle of the five quarter finalists was deemed worthy of the prestigious 9pm slot by some shady figure in the higher echelons of the corporation.

Not that it made a great deal of difference, mind.

As 91% of the show's audience is over the age of 34 (and therefore more resistant to and frightened of change) it's a small miracle that 2.6 million viewers managed to consult their TV guide, spot the time shift and enjoy the episode all the way through to 10pm.

In the end, an audience share of 12% watched as the competitors were forced to work with dangerous and archaic machinery. While this is impressive enough for a 9pm broadcast on BBC Two, it was nowhere near enough to combat the more exhilarating content on other stations, Midsomer Murders (ITV, 8pm) included.

Perhaps the time-switch was just a valiant effort on behalf of schedulers to balance out the unrepentant misery on offer over on BBC One.

Regional Detective Shows have been part of the television landscape since Midsomer Murders launched back in 1879 but none come bleaker than BBC One's Shetland (9pm). Thanks to the dreary landscape (although it's shot on the Scottish mainland but whatever) grumpy DI Jimmy Perez's cases seem to carry more weight and burden.

After an extremely short run first time round, the expanded second series came back two weeks ago with 5.2 million viewers and has managed to hang on to the majority of them since. Last night 4.5 million viewers tuned in to see Perez deal with the murder of journalist friend, leading to yet another conspiratorial plot being unearthed.

An audience share of 20% was enough to ensure that Shetland was the biggest programme in the 9pm slot.

Although this isn't much of a surprise when ITV's grand evening plan was to once again rely on another repeat of Midsomer Murders.

The episode from March 2011 saw yet another Midsomer killing spree kick off due to past crimes being dug up (it really rivals Emmerdale for picturesque rural places to avoid), with the two hour event pulling in an audience of 2.2 million viewers and a 10% share.

At the same time on Channel 4, friendly-faced James Doherty - him with the sunny disposition and pig farm - attempted to warn viewers about the upcoming doom of civilisation, all in his usually cheery manner.

The shocking statistics behind Food Prices: The Shocking Truth (9pm) is enough to keep anyone awake at night (too many people, not enough resources) but James made it all seem okay thanks to the confusingly light tone of the programme. This secured 1.5 million viewers and a 7% share, Channel 4's biggest hit of the day.

Earlier at 8pm, Holby City - trusted stalwart of BBC One - performed to its usual standard, netting 4.8 million viewers and a 22% share.

Over on BBC Two, the calming sound of youthful bleats could be heard as Kate Humble and Adam Henson got on with a spell of Lambing Live. Similar to Going Live! but with less children and more sheep, the miracle of self-replicating livestock was watched by 2.3 million viewers and a 10% share.

As usual the soaps performed particularly well with Emmerdale (ITV, 7pm) securing a little over 6 million viewers - the night's third biggest audience. Regional News and Weather (BBC One, 6:30pm) did a little with 6.2 million viewers but it was EastEnders (7:30pm) that took the top spot.

6.9 million viewers tuned in to see the life-affirming scenes of a broken Dot Cotton welcoming home the corpse of her son Nick. The joyful teatime affair brought in a 32% share and the day's biggest audience.

Over in the digital netherworld at 8pm, BBC Three courted some controversy as it broadcast a rather heated debate live from Tottenham's Broadwater Farm housing estate, after being postponed two weeks ago for security reasons.

211,000 viewers tuned in to Free Speech for a rather impassioned discussion about being gay and Muslim, resulting in the second most tweeted about show of the day. Right behind the cranium expanding content of The Valleys (MTV, 10pm), naturally.

The Social TV Analytics report is a daily leaderboard displaying the latest social TV analytics Twitter data from SecondSync. The table shows the top UK TV shows as they are mentioned on Twitter, which MediaTel has correlated with the BARB overnight programme ratings for those shows (only viewable to BARB subscribers).

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. Overnight data supplied by TRP are based on 15 minute slot averages. This may differ from tape checked figures, which are based on a programme's actual start and end time.

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