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Rowan Atkinson's Maigret praised by fans but Line Of Duty wins ratings battle

It was a clash of the TV titans on Sunday evening, but one show smashed the competition.

Rowan Atkinson’s Maigret failed to match up to rival drama Line Of Duty in the ratings as it returned on Sunday night.

The crime drama, which aired on ITV at 8pm for two hours, was praised by fans, although it only scored an average audience of 3.8 million viewers according to overnight ratings.

This number includes those watching on catch-up channel ITV +1.

Line Of Duty’s dramatic episode, the fourth of the current series, was the highest rated show of the night.

According to overnight data, 5.7 million viewers tuned in to watch the hour-long episode at 9pm, with a 27.3% audience share compared with Maigret’s share of 18.5%.

It has previously been beaten in the ratings on a weekly basis by ITV’s Vera, which finished last week.

The numbers for Line Of Duty are expected to rise when those watching on iPlayer are later taken into account.

The first episode of the fourth series had been watched by an average of five million viewers in the overnight figures, but consolidated numbers later showed it had been seen by 7.4 million.

Rowan reprised his role as the pipe-smoking French detective Maigret after receiving mixed reviews upon his debut last year, and was this time given a thumbs-up by viewers.

Fans were delighted with his performance in the episode, entitled Night At The Crossroads, and many said they would happily forget the actor’s famous comedy roles Mr Bean and Blackadder for the drama.

Meanwhile, Line Of Duty viewers were enthralled by the episode, which saw DS Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) wake up after being brutally attacked and falling down several flights of stairs in the previous instalment.

Over on BBC Two, one million viewers watched the grand finale of Robot Wars at 7pm – which saw Team Carbide crowned the champion.

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