Lilyhammer, BBC4’s new Scandinavian crime drama, which stars Sopranos actor Steven Van Zandt as a New York mafia boss hiding out in Lilyhammer, Norway, opened to a respectable audience of over 400,000 people last night.
The show averaged 402,000 viewers and a 2.3% audience share between 10-10:45pm. It debuted in front of 419,000 people (2.4%) at 10:00pm but had shed 50,000 viewers by the end of last night’s episode, the audience down to 370,000 (2.4%) as the credits rolled.
While the show earned more viewers than Danish crime drama The Killing’s first episode (393,000 in January 2011), Lilyhammer’s opening instalment enjoyed a far smaller audience than the BBC4 debuts of rival Scandi serials Borgen (629,000) and The Bridge (1m) earlier this year.
Which is perhaps surprising, considering Lilyhammer broke Norwegian viewing records when it was first shown there in January, when a fifth of the country’s total population tuned in.
However Lilyhammer faced some stiff prime time competition last night in the form of England v Ukraine on ITV1, which courted a fifth of the TV audience, some 4.5m viewers, and overlapped with the Norwegian drama’s first ten minutes.
But having earned only lukewarm reviews and seen its viewership decline over the course of the first episode, it’ll be interesting to see whether or not Lilyhammer’s fortunes will improve over the coming weeks…