- guardian.co.uk, Friday 29 January 2010 12.28 GMT
Skins returned with nearly 1 million viewers on E4 last night, Thursday 28 January, easily outdoing the return of Secret Diary of a Call Girl on ITV2.
The start of the fourth series of E4's teen drama attracted 938,000 viewers in the 10pm hour, a 5.1% share of the multichannel audience. A further 164,000 watched an hour later on catchup service E4 +1, according to unofficial overnight ratings.
Secret Diary of Call Girl, the adaptation of the Belle de Jour blog and book starring Billie Piper that is returning for a third series, pulled in 664,000 viewers in its first half-hour instalment at 10pm, a share of 3.3%, while the second episode at 10.30pm drew 640,000. A further 91,000 and 92,000 respectively watched on the catchup service ITV2 +1.
The show was beaten into third place among multichannel offerings at 10pm, with BBC3's repeat of EastEnders picking up 818,000 viewers and a 4% share.
Skins' performance – the best since its launch in 2007 – was an improvement on the last series' average of 890,000 and the first episode's combined audience of 833,000, of which 665,000 was on E4 and the rest on E4 +1.
The launch night of the first series back in January 2007 drew 1.4 million viewers, setting a record for E4's best ever audience for an UK-originated programme other than Big Brother.
On the main channels, the spoils were divided, with ITV1's soaps dominating the earlier part of the evening and BBC1 reigning supreme from 9pm, while Channel 4 was boosted by the continuing popularity of Celebrity Big Brother.
Silent Witness won the 9pm hour comprehensively, matching last week's audience of 6.1 million and a 25% share for the first instalment of a new two-parter, Shadows.
The opposition was split, with ITV1's The Bill pulled in 3.5 million viewers and a 14% share, while Celebrity Big Brother drew 3.2 million and 13%, plus 404,000 on Channel 4 +1 an hour later.
BBC2's Mock the Week pulled in 2.5 million viewers and a 10% share over half an hour from 9pm, while Scottish sitcom Rab C Nesbitt – back after an 11-year hiatus – brought in 1.8 million and 7% at 9.30pm.
The third helping of the channel's comedy night, Bellamy's People, the new show from Paul Whitehouse and Charlie Higson, attracted 1.2 million viewers and a 5% share between 10pm and 10.30pm.
Channel Five had its best audience of the day at 9pm, when the second episode of Extreme Fishing with Robson Green, in which the former star of Soldier Soldier visited the Kenyan coast, drew 1.2 million viewers and a 5% share.
BBC1 comedy drama Material Girl continued to struggle against ITV1's soaps in the 8pm hour, losing 200,000 viewers and one share point to draw 2.6 million viewers and an 11% share for its third episode.
Emmerdale pulled in 8.4 million viewers and a 36% share in the half hour from 8pm, followed by Coronation Street, with 9.3 million and 38%.
Channel 4's new Monty Don series My Dream Farm attracted 1.5 million viewers and a 6% share in the 8pm hour. A further 190,000 watched an hour later on Channel 4 +1.
Five's Build a New Life in the Country drew 1 million viewers and a 4% share, while on BBC2 Jimmy's Global Harvest attracted 1.7 million and 7%.
An earlier instalment at 7pm of Emmerdale drew 7.8 million viewers and a 35% share, beating BBC1's The One Show, with 5.5 million and 25%.
Unsurprisingly, EastEnders won the 7.30pm battle against CCTV – Cashing In on Cameras: Tonight, with 9.7 million and 42% the night's best figures – to the ITV1 documentary's 3.7 million and 16%.
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