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The Victorians debuts with 4.3m but ITV1 shines brighter

LONDON - Jeremy Paxman's Sunday night history series 'The Victorians' kicked off with 4.3m viewers on BBC One, but ITV1 hogged the best primetime ratings over the weekend, according to unofficial overnight figures.

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The first part of the four-part series, in which Paxman brings to life the misery of early industrial Britain through neglected paintings by 19th century masters such as John Atkinson Grimshaw and William Powell Frith, attracted a 17% share of the 9-10pm audience.

ITV1 drama 'Wild at Heart', starring Stephen Tompkinson and Dawn Steele, won the primetime slot with 7.6m viewers and a 28% share of the 8.30pm to 9pm slot.

The first part of 'Richard Hammond's Engineering Connections', which saw the 'Top Gear' presenter set out on a quest to find the engineering connections behind the Airbus A380, the largest passenger airliner in history, pulled in 2.9m viewers and an 11% share of the 8.30pm to 9.15pm audience on BBC Two.

Channel 4's airing of Tom Cruise action film 'Mission Impossible III' netted 3m viewers and a 14% share of the 9pm to 11.15pm, including Channel 4+1 figures, while Five's showing of war movie 'The Dirty Dozen' drew 1m viewers and a 4% share of the 8-10.45pm audience.

Earlier in the evening ITV1's celebrity ice-dancing competition 'Dancing On Ice' attracted 9.1m viewers and a 36% share of the 7pm to 8.30pm audience. The 9.30pm results show, which saw former rugby league player Ellery Hanley voted off, scored 8.1m viewers (32%).

ITV1 reasserted itself as a Saturday night draw by delivering three 7m+ rating shows between 7.30pm and 10pm.

The first of a new series of 'Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway' at 7.45-9pm was watched by 7.3m people, equivalent to 31.6% of the total TV audience.

It followed 'Harry Hill's TV Burp' - 7.4m viewers and a 33.1% share - and preceded a documentary on ice skating pair Torvill and Dean's perfect score for their 'Bolero' routine at the Winter Olympics 25 years ago.

'Dancing on Ice: The Story of Bolero with Torvill and Dean' scored 7.2m viewers and a 31.9% share at 9-10pm.

BBC One fell short of ITV's ratings with 6.1m viewers (26.6%) at 7.30-8.30pm for 'The National Lottery: In It To Win It' and 5.6m (23.8%) for 'Casualty' at 8.30-9.15pm.

Half-hour sitcom 'The Old Guys' followed 'Casualty', managing 2.6m viewers and a 23.8% share.

BBC One's biggest audience of the day was for its Wales vs England Six Nations rugby coverage at 5.15-7.30pm. Almost a third of the audience, 6.6m viewers, tuned in to see Wales run out 23-15 winners.


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