- guardian.co.uk, Friday 5 June 2009 11.35 BST
Big Brother returned for its tenth series last night, Thursday 4 May, winning its slot with nearly 5 million viewers.
The Big Brother Launch Show attracted 4.8 million viewers, a 22% share of the audience between 9pm and 10.35pm, according to unofficial overnight figures. A additional 293,000 watched an hour later on the catchup service Channel 4 +1.
Big Brother's Channel 4 ratings were 400,000 viewers and two share points down on last year's launch show, which attracted 5.2 million viewers and a 24% share between 9pm and 10.40pm.
But last night's programme saw off all the opposition, although there was admittedly not too much of it.
A Taggart repeat on ITV1 in the 9pm hour attracted 3.3 million viewers, a 15% share.
At the same time on BBC1 the documentary Calendar Girls: Ten Years On drew 3 million viewers, a 14% share.
Channel Five's US import The Mentalist had 2.4 million viewers, an 11% share.
Also in the 9pm hour, BBC2 documentary A World of Pain: Meera Syal on Self-Harm averaged 1 million viewers and a 5% share.
Earlier in the evening, Springwatch on BBC2 had 3.3 million viewers and a 16% share over the 8pm hour.
The best-rated programme at the same time was BBC1's Traffic Cops with 4.2 million and a 21% share of viewing.
Next up was the second instalment of The Bill's two-parter on ITV1, which pulled in 3.9 million viewers, a 19% share over the hour.
Preceding Big Brother over the 8pm hour was on Channel 4 was The Home Show, with 1.7 million viewers and an 8% share. A further 133,000 watched on digital catchup service Channel 4 +1 an hour later.
Also at 8pm Five showed a repeat of Paul Merton in India, pulling in 500,000 viewers and a 2% share over the hour.
Later in the evening, the BBC1 and ITV1 10pm bulletins were scrambling to cover news of work and pensions secretary James Purnell's shock resignation from the government, which broke minutes before they went on air.
BBC1's 10pm news averaged 5 million viewers, a 24% share between 10pm and 10.35pm, while News at Ten at the same time on ITV1 pulled in 2.3 million viewers and a 11% share.
Both programme were competing with the Big Brother launch night coverage, which averaged 4.9 million viewers over the half-hour from 10pm on Channel 4.
On BBC2 a Room 101 repeat featuring Sir Alan Sugar attracted 1.2 million viewers and a 6% share between 10pm and 10.30pm.
In the 10pm hour, Five's US import Law & Order: Special Victims Unit pulled in 1 million viewers and a 5% share.
BBC1's Question Time attracted 3.4 million viewers and a 24% share from 10.35pm, while over on BBC2 Newsnight drew 800,000 and 6% from 10.30pm.
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