Britain's Got Talent takes a bow as the top TV show in an otherwise quiet Easter for viewers.

The Easter holiday is a time for chocolate and big family-oriented shows dominating the schedules.

Over the four-day break viewing traditionally rises because potential viewers have more free time, but this year saw a year-on-year decline of 12.4%. The average viewer watched 229.6 minutes of TV compared with 262.2 minutes for the Easter period (21-24 March) last year across all hours. Peaktime viewing, between 6pm and 10.30pm, wasn't so badly affected, falling 7.5% from 109.5 minutes to 101.3 minutes. All of the five main terrestrial channels saw declines in viewing in both all hours and peaktime share.

Despite the general decline there were plenty of big shows making their mark. BBC1 and ITV1 had their customary Saturday night tussle, as they dusted off ratings blockbusters.

First up at 6.45pm on 11 April was an Easter special of BBC1's sci-fi drama Doctor Who, featuring Michelle Ryan and Lee Evans as well as David Tennant. The hour-long show hit a high of 8.6 million/40.4% at 7pm.

The show exceeded the channel's slot average for last year by 2 million and saw off ITV1's drama opposition. The hour-long Primeval at 6.15pm fell to its lowest-ever audience of 2.7 million/14.3%.

Once Doctor Who finished at 7.45pm, fortunes were reversed. A significant 1.2 million viewers migrated from BBC1 to ITV1 for the return of the smash hit show Britain's Got Talent. The 90- minute talent contest gained its highest-ever audience for a debut show, with 10.3 million/45% tuning in for the start of the third run. The show gained a 15-minute peak at 8.45pm with 11.1 million/47.6%.

Last year, the channel had an average performance of 6.6 million/29.4%. The show started last year on 12 April with 8.8 million/37% in a similar 7.45pm slot.

In recent years, Easter has also seen the smaller digital channels attempt, usually successfully, to make their mark with high-profile shows and this year it was no exception. Making the biggest impact of any of the entertainment channels was Dave's three-part resurrection of the hit sci-fi sitcom Red Dwarf. The first half-hour episode pulled in a staggering 2.1 million/10% at 9pm on Good Friday (10 April), more viewers than BBC2 and Five at that time. It also gained 341,000 on the time-shifted Dave Ja Vu. No other show on the channel has ever hit the million mark.

The second episode in the same slot on the following day totalled 1.2 million/5.9% (including the +1 audience) and the finale had a similar 1.2 million/5.6%. The three episodes had a total average audience of 1.6 million/7.7%.

Sky 1 also made its presence felt, if not quite to the same degree, with its big feature-length drama Skellig. The two-hour drama pulled in a relatively disappointing 936,000/4.7% on Easter Sunday (12 April) at 7pm.

While the show easily smashed the channel's slot average for last year of 409,000/2% it was some way behind last year's Easter drama offering. Terry Pratchett's The Colour of Magic, on 23 March 2008, attracted 1.5 million/ 7.9% for two hours in a 6pm slot.

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