Belfast Telegraph

An arresting sight as Line of Duty smashes records

 

Vicky McClure, Martin Compston and Adrian Dunbar returned on Sunday night in the most-watched episode in the history of the BBC One police drama
Vicky McClure, Martin Compston and Adrian Dunbar returned on Sunday night in the most-watched episode in the history of the BBC One police drama
The Fall: 2.5m
Game of Thrones: 2.04m
Derry Girls: 1.8m
Mark Bain

By Mark Bain

Line of Duty has become the biggest TV show of 2019 with almost eight million people tuning in to watch the opening episode of the police drama's fifth series.

The Jed Mercurio thriller returned on Sunday night and recorded the highest ratings for an episode in the show's history, and the largest on any channel this year.

Overnight figures showed an average of 7.8m viewers watched the drama, filmed in Belfast, unfold on BBC One.

It hit a peak of 8m as the first instalment of series five welcomed new cast members Stephen Graham and Rochenda Sandall - and that figure doesn't take into account those watching later on catch-up TV.

The series five premiere went up against Victoria on ITV, with the period drama attracting a high of 3.1m.

According to the BBC, only the FA Cup coverage from January 25 this year was more popular with younger viewers than the latest episode of Line Of Duty, which enjoyed a 38% overall audience share on Sunday night.

The figures follow the runaway ratings success of another acclaimed Mercurio drama, Bodyguard. The final episode of the gripping BBC thriller had a huge television audience of 14.3m.

In Sunday's Line of Duty, Enniskillen-born Adrian Dunbar, who plays Superintendent Ted Hastings, set social media alight after saying he "didn't float up the Lagan in a bubble".

In what has been a golden age for Northern Ireland film, hit Channel 4 comedy Derry Girls pulled in 1.8m viewers as its second series kicked off last month.

The second series finale of BBC2's serial killer drama The Fall had 2.5m viewers on the edge of their seats in 2014. Starring Jamie Dornan and Gillian Anderson, the opening of series three also pulled in 2.5m - a 12.5% share of the viewing figures.

Despite airing in the middle of the night and on satellite channel Sky Atlantic, the season seven opener of Game of Thrones had 115,000 viewers staying up for the 2am simulcast with the US.

Less impatient fans caught up the next day - bringing the total figure for the episode up to 2.04m through recordings and on demand.

A further 788,000 tuned in for the repeat at the more UK-friendly time of 9pm back in 2017.

Count up all the people who watched the episode from a recording in the first 24 hours and you get a grand total of 2.83m, the largest overnight audience for a Game of Thrones episode in Sky Atlantic's history.

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