- guardian.co.uk, Monday 16 February 2009 11.31 GMT
Jeremy Paxman's first series for BBC1, The Victorians, began with more than 4 million viewers but lost out to ITV1 opposition including Dancing on Ice last night, Sunday 15 February.
The first instalment of a four-part documentary series, which began with a look at Victorian painting, attracted an average audience share of 17% in the 9pm hour, according to unofficial overnight figures.
Paxman's show was beaten by ITV1's drama Wild at Heart, with 7.8 million viewers and a 28% share between 8.30pm and 9.30pm; and the results show of Dancing on Ice, with 8.1 million and a 32% share between 9.30pm and 10pm.
This weekend's Saturday Night Takeaway debut was also up 1.3 million viewers and six share points compared with the start of the last series in February 2008.
Earlier, the main part of Dancing on Ice pulled in 9.1 million viewers and a 36% share between 6.55pm and 8.30pm.
BBC2's new series Richard Hammond's Engineering Connections attracted 2.9 million and an 11% share between 8.30pm and 9.20pm. BBC1's costume drama Lark Rise to Candleford drew 5.7 million and a 21% share in the 8pm hour.
Channel 4's terrestrial movie premiere of Mission: Impossible III had 2.6 million viewers and a 13% share between 9pm and 11.20pm, with a further 320,000 on Channel 4 +1 an hour later. Channel Five's movie repeat of The Dirty Dozen picked up 1 million and a 4% share between 8pm and 10.55pm.
A new series of US drama Damages launched on BBC1 with 1.7 million viewers and an 11% share between 10.20pm and 11.20pm.
Earlier, live coverage of the Six Nations rugby union clash between Italy and Ireland brought 2.9 million viewers and a 22% share to BBC2 between kick off at 2.30pm and 4.30pm. Overall coverage of the match, including pre- and post-match comment and analysis, averaged 2.6 million viewers and a 20% share between 2pm and 4.30pm.
Live coverage of ITV1's FA Cup match between Derby County and Manchester United pulled in 5.6 million viewers and a 30% share between 4.30pm and 6.30pm, with full coverage between 4pm and 6.45pm averaging 5 million and a 27% share.
Sky1 continued to do well with Lost pulling in 875,000 viewers and a 3.7% multichannel share at 9pm, while Ross Kemp: Return to Afghanistan gained 793,000 and a 4.7% share between 10pm and 11pm.
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