THURSDAY: Ricky Gervais’ new comedy Life’s Too Short pulled in a sizeable audience for BBC2 as part of a comedy hour that saw the return of religious sitcom Rev post record ratings.

The creator of The Office and Extras’ latest venture with writing partner Stephen Merchant focuses on dwarf actor Warwick Davis, who is forced to appear in a reality TV series.

The comedy amused an audience of 2.39m (9.9%) from 9.30pm to 10pm on BBC2 and drew a further 141,700 (0.59%) on its BBC HD simulcast, according to overnight Barb figures supplied by Attentional.

It built its audience over the period it was on air and was well above BBC2’s slot average of 1.81m (7.76%) viewers for the past 12 months.

However, it is still some way off the ratings for the second series of Gervais and Merchant’s previous comedy, Extras. The show, which featured regular appearances from Hollywood stars, averaged an overnight audience of 3.67m (16.63%) in 2006.

Rev returns

Life’s Too Short was preceded by the second series of Big Talk Productions’ Rev.

Starring Tom Hollander, it blessed the BBC2 schedule with the sitcom’s biggest ever audience, entertaining 2.29m (9.5%) between 9pm and 9.30pm. Another 83,700 (0.35%) watched on BBC HD.

It bettered last year’s series launch audience of 2.18m (10.74%) - when it was scheduled at 10pm on a Monday - and was above BBC2’s slot average of 1.77m (7.51%) viewers for the past 12 months.

The Jury recovers

Meanwhile, the penultimate instalment of drama The Jury won the 9pm slot with an audience of 4.64m (19.23%) on ITV1 and ITV1 HD, while a further 270,500 (1.5%) watched on ITV1+1.

Stripped across this week, the legal drama starring Julie Walters lost more than 2m viewers on Tuesday, but steadied on Wednesday and now its ratings appear to be recovering.

The Jury beat DIY SOS: the Big Children in Need Special, which could muster a below-par audience of 3.92m (16.2%) over the 9pm hour on BBC1 and BBC1 HD.

The penultimate Big Brother of the current run managed an audience of 1.76m (7.3%) for Channel 5 as Tom O’Connell was evicted from the reality series.

A Time Team special on Channel 4, which saw the team scour the banks of the River Thames to discover more about the launch of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s SS Great Eastern, unearthed an audience of 1.46m (6.1%). It picked up another 175,400 (1%) on C4+1.

Jacko doctor doc

C4 then aired a one-off October Films documentary, featuring an exclusive interview with Dr Conrad Murray - was was this week found guilty of causing the death of pop star Michael Jackson.

The Man Who Killed Michael Jackson did not perform well, only attracting an audience of 650,000 (3.8%) to C4 from 10pm to 11.10pm, while another 107,400 (1.2%) watched on C4+1. It was classified by Attentional as a “very poor” performance for a factual show in the slot.