During a week of indecision, ratings stalwarts provided some stability in an uncertain world.
It’s chaos, I tell you. The people have spoken, but apparently it’s all Greek to the politicians. As we mere mortals survey the continued legacy of the Great Borrowing Binge, which stretches from ballot boxes across the land to rioting in Athens, nothing these days is more certain than uncertainty.
So it is with some relief that, in telly at least, that parallel universe where everything is possible, things had a certain continuity and comfort. National treasures can still send us down rivers, murders still happen at a rate of knots in Midsomer and Oxford, while new maverick cops still have what it takes.
Joanna Lumley’s Nile reached an end on Monday, and ITV1 will have seen that it was good; 4.6 million/18% share, which conformed to a solid average across the run (4.5 million/18%) and was too much for a George Gently repeat on BBC1; 3.5 million/14%. Call me Mr Perceptive if you like, but I suspect that won’t be the last we’ll see of Ms Lumley a-travelling. Nepal next, perhaps? ITV will be especially pleased as it gives it a returning brand. If only there were six of them and they came around quicker.
Luther got off to a cracking start on Tuesday. A slot that BBC1 generally expects to win saw the new cop series pull in 5.6 million/24%, reducing the poor, benighted TheBill to 2.6 million/11%. Luther attracted a very good ABC1 demographic (2.7 million/26%) and a strong 35+ profile. The proof is always in episodes two onwards, but that’s a very nice start. Earlier, The One Show began life sans Adrian Chiles and proved that only a few are truly indispensable; a weekly average of 4.6 million was in line with the previous week and, in share terms, spot on with the year to date. Moving on…
Midsomer Murders’ 5.4 million/23% was enough to see off Waterloo Road’s 4.6 million/20% and Motorway Cops’ 3.8 million/16%. Two years ago, Midsomer was a regular and reliable 6 million-plus show. Five-and-a-half million remains respectable and a relief after the slightly scary 4.9 million a couple of weeks ago, but it will be making those ROI decisions more tricky. But honestly, would you rather have Midsomer Murders in your schedule or not? Quite.
Thursday, and the nation decided - or rather it didn’t; it sort of dithered. The Great Vote, or at least the 65% of us who bothered, didn’t arrest the continued increase in viewing and Thursday peak saw well over 1 million more people watching TV than this same Thursday last year. Greatest CitiesWith Griff Rhys Jones hauled 3.3 million/14% to Hong Kong on ITV1. Imagine the queue at check-in.
But it was still not enough to destabilise Outnumbered, which scored 4.7 million/20% at 9.25pm. At 10pm, as the polls closed, BBC1 had 5.6 million/24% tuning in for the election results, while 2.4 million/11% chose ITV1. After almost lynching Parliament a year ago over the expenses scandal, voters hung it for real tonight.
BBC1’s Over The Rainbow is quietly doing a good job, winning both its weekend slots; 5.5 million/25% was enough to see off The Whole 19 Yards’ 4.3 million/20% on Saturday, while on Sunday, 5.6 million/25% was too much for The Seasons: With Alan Titchmarsh (3.4 million/ 15%). Lewis’s latest leisurely ramble through Oxford’s murderous countryside, as well as the weekly ‘Spot Colin Dexter’ competition, proved irresistible as 7 million/28% romped away with the evening. Matisse proved more interesting than Andy Warhol - just - with BBC1’s Modern Masters getting 2 million/8% at 9pm.