The Hairy Bikers quest to lose weight was recorded by nearly half a million BBC2 viewers taking it to the best audience of the series.

Down the aeons, leaders seeking to impose their will on nations have sometimes sought to copy societies deemed to be more successful. In 1698, Russian Tsar Peter the Great decided that his country’s relative backwardness was down to beards, so he taxed them. Beards, it was decided, were “a useless burden” not borne in the West.

The success of the Hairy Bikers would have alarmed anti-beardy Pete, but BBC2 will be unequivocally chuffed with the hirsute duo.

There’s no beard in sight on The X Factor, though Louis Walsh’s new hairdo does make him look like a grandpa. Meanwhile, Channel 5 launched its new US procedural Person Of Interest, while Asian channel Star Plus is getting some decent numbers for its daily soap.

BBC2: Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food And Lose Weight

On Thursday 14 August at 8pm, BBC2’s latest Hairy Bikers outing, Hairy Dieters: How To Love Food And Lose Weight, achieved 3.6 million/15% after nearly 500,000 recorded and watched: the best of this series and ninth in the Hairy Bikers telly lexicon.

The duo’s best ever was Hairy Bakers’ 4 million/16% at 8.30pm on a Monday night in August 2008.

ITV1: The X Factor

In its usual August slot, and on an unfeasibly hot day in some parts of the country, The X Factor returned to ITV1 on 18 August. After 900,000 recorded, it achieved a rating of 9.8 million/44%, which is, you know, big. But The X Factor’s and ITV’s home-made rod is that this wasn’t as big as last year’s launch of 12.7 million/50%.

Then there was the curiosity of life without Simon Cowell, which may also help explain 2012’s smaller start. It’s still a beast, clearly, but because it occupies so much of ITV1’s schedule and budget, any movement southwards has a disproportionate effect on the channel; and that six-point share difference will be exercising ITV1’s brain and wallet.

Channel 5: Person Of Interest

Channel 5’s new CBS police drama Person Of Interest launched off the back of the season finale of stalwart CSI. The new show began with 2.2 million/11% after around 600,000 recorded and watched – not far behind CSI’s 2.5 million/10%.

Star Plus: Iss Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon

Star Plus is getting some very decent numbers for its most popular show, daily soap Iss Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon. On 14 August at 8pm, it achieved a consolidated rating of 305,000/ 1.4%. That is more than Sky Atlantic’s The Newsroom achieved at 10pm on the same night (278,000/1.5%).