The new four part series which saw chef Jamie Oliver try to cook the school lunch for pupils on a strict budget of 37p each averaged a sizeable 4.3 million (17.7%) from 9pm. The show slowly built its audience from a base of 3.8 million (15%) at the start over its 60-minute run.
The TV chef has proved to be an attraction for viewers with his previous series, Jamie's Kitchen, where he set-up a new restaurant staffed by unemployed people, launched in November 2002 with 5 million (21.4%) with the series ending with 6.2 million (26.5%). The entire series averaged 5.3 million (22.7%).
Last night, BBC1's 55-minute Crimewatch UKcould manage 4 million (16.5%), rising to 4.3 million (18%) at the end. The 10-minute update at 10.35pm got 3.3 million (19%).
Jamie's School Dinnersalso had an impact on ITV1's ratings hit Life Begins, also in the 9pm slot. The second episode of the drama series starring Caroline Quentin averaged 6.9 million (28.1%) with a peak of 7.3 million (30%) at 9.05pm. Last week the opening episode of the second series averaged 8.7 million (37.5%).
Five's film Eraser, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, thrilled 2.2 million (10.9%). BBC2's The Apprentice slipped slightly from its opening show last week, down by 100,000 to 1.8 million (7.2%).
Over the past two weeks C4's Desperate Housewiveshas appeared to lose some of its shine with viewers although viewing figures still remain healthy. Last night's episode at 10pm attracted 3.6 million (20.4%) with a peak of 4.5 million (20%) at the start, well above the channel's average audience for last year of 10.1%. When the US series began though in early January it attracted 4.6 million (24%).
A repeat of Have I Got News for Youon BBC2 at 10pm got 1.5 million (7.1%).
Earlier in peaktime, ITV1's The Billdominated the 8pm slot thanks to its terrorist attack storyline with a strong 8.1 million (32.7%). BBC1's documentary Ellen MacArthur: Taking on the World, in the same 60-minute slot, averaged 3.5 million (14%).
The BBC1 show was level pegging with C4's 30-minute You Are What You Eat, also at 8pm, with 3.5 million (14.3%). C4's ensuing 10 Years Youngerat 8.30pm took 3.6 million (14.2%).
BBC2's What The Ancients Did for Ushad 2.5 million (10%) at 8pm while Five's Nigel Marven's Animal Detectivesinterested 700,000 (2.9%).
Peaktime shares for Wednesday 23 February: ITV1 - 34%, BBC1 - 17%, C4 - 13%, BBC2 - 8%, Five - 5%, multichannel - 23%.