Here’s a familiar sounding story – a talent show followed by a period drama pulling in big ratings for ITV on a Sunday evening. However, last night it wasn’t the tried and tested X Factor/Downton Abbey double bill that punters were flocking to the commercial broadcaster for, it was the return of Dancing on Ice plus all-new glossy period drama Mr Selfridge.
An average of 8.1m viewers watched the opening episode of the ice skating talent show between 6:15pm and 7:45pm, with 7.2m also tuning in to see Baywatch star Pamela Anderson become the first contestant to exit the rink in the skate-off show at 8:30pm.
Immediately afterwards, the first instalment of new ten-part period drama Mr Selfridge – starring Entourage’s Jeremy Piven as the department store pioneer and former Coronation Street favourite Katherine Kelly as his financial backer – drew an average audience of 7.3m viewers across it’s 90-minute slot from 9pm.
Can the new pairing provide regular Sunday night success for ITV? That could depend on how much damage has been done by the early departure of Dancing on Ice’s biggest name and how well Mr Selfridge stacks up against last year’s BBC1 drama The Paradise, with which it has drawn widespread comparisons.