TOWIE returns for series five with 1.3m viewers

ITV2's structured reality behemoth continues to attract big numbers, and helps the channel to a record ratings evening

The Only Way Is Essex returned to ITV2 last night with 1.33 million viewers (a 6.8 per cent audience share) between 10pm and 10:45pm, according to overnight ratings.

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Now in its fifth series, the structured reality show continues to attract big numbers for the commercial broadcaster, despite losing many of its most famous characters throughout the last year

Last night’s figures beat every show from series four, which peaked with 1.31 million viewers for the finale on 29 February 2012.  Overall the series averaged a very respectable 1.13 million (6.8 per cent share) viewers across 10 episodes.   

Although the season five opener is down more than half a million viewers from the very top of TOWIE-mania at the end of series two, the show remains a very solid property for ITV2, and a class leader in British structured reality. 

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Indeed, it was good news for ITV2 in general last night. Thanks to repeats of Britain’s Got Talent, BGMT and Benidorm, the digital channel managed to keep their viewership above a million between 6:45pm and 10:45pm, recording an average audience share of 4.6 per cent.  This helped the channel achieve its best rating day since Christmas 2009, and ITV2’s best primetime Sunday since it was launched in 1998.