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Simon Cowell helps Britain's Got Talent fend off The Voice with 11.5m viewers

'Britain's Got Talent' returned with a peak audience of 11.5 million people on Saturday night, beating both the first episode of BBC talent show 'The Voice', and last year's launch audience, according to unofficial overnight figures.

Britain's Got Talent: judges Dixon, Walliams, Holden and Cowell

Britain's Got Talent: judges Dixon, Walliams, Holden and Cowell

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The return of Simon Cowell as a full-time judge on the show helped it to a peak audience of 11.51 million viewers on ITV1 and ITV1 HD at 9.10pm, ahead of last year’s peak of 10.94 million across the two channels.

When the contribution of ITV1 +1 is included, the peak audience was 12.2 million viewers, beating the combined peak audience of 11.6 million viewers for the first show last year.

Cowell was joined on the 'Britain’s Got Talent' panel by long-standing judge Amanda Holden and two newcomers – comedian David Walliams and singer and former ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ judge, Alesha Dixon. The show is sponsored by Virgin Media.

Between 8pm and 9.20pm, ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ had an audience of 9.31 million viewers, a 38.8% share of the available audience. An additional 557,200 watched the show on ITV1 +1, putting the total average at 9.86 million.

The ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ average audiences were down slightly on last year when an average of 9.95 million viewers watched the first show on ITV1 and ITV1 HD and the show had an average of 10.44 million across ITV1, ITV1 HD and ITV1+1.

‘The Voice’, the high-profile new talent show, where contestants sing while the judges' backs are turned, so the judges’ decisions are made on the voice alone, had a peak audience of 9.82 million viewers at 7.55pm on BBC One and BBC One HD.

Between 7pm and 8.20pm ‘The Voice’ had an average audience of 8.43 million viewers on BBC One and BBC One HD, a 37.6% share of the available audience.

However, when the talent shows went head-to-head between 8pm and 8.20pm ‘The Voice’ was the most-watched show with an average of 8.95 million viewers, ahead of 6.58 million for ‘Britain’s Got Talent’.

Titanic debut

Last night the first episode of the Julian Fellows drama ‘Titanic’ managed an average audience of 6.89 million viewers, a 26.7% share, between 9pm and 10pm. An additional 476,400 watched the show on ITV1 +1.

The peak audience for ‘Titanic’ was 7.7 million viewers on ITV1 and ITV1 HD (and 8.3 million including ITV1 +1), ahead of ‘Scott and Bailey', the next biggest ITV drama launch this year.

‘Dancing on Ice’, meanwhile, bowed out with an average audience of 7.02 million viewers between 6.45pm and 9pm, a 29.7% share. An additional average of 322,900 viewers watched the show on ITV1 +1.

The peak audience for ‘Dancing on Ice’ was 8.4 million viewers (a 31% share) across ITV1 and ITV1 HD. Including people watching an hour later on ITV1 +1 the peak was 8.8 million viewers.

Last night’s ‘Dancing on Ice’ performance failed to surpass last year’s final, which had an average audience of 9.0 million viewers and a peak of 9.8 million viewers.

Follow Maisie McCabe on Twitter @MaisieMcCabe

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