The heady promise of a live, double-length episode, featuring two births, the aftermath of a double wedding and the murder of a key character, was enough to secure Emmerdale its biggest viewing figures since January 2010.
An average of 9.2m, a 42% audience share, tuned in to the rural soap across ITV1, +1 and HD between 7pm and 8pm last night to see Carl King meet his maker, courtesy of Chas, Cameron and a polystyrene brick.
That compares with an episode-average for the year so far of 6.5m and 32% in the soap’s usual 30-minute slot, and is half a million more than its previous best for 2012, a New Year episode watched by 8.7m (34%).
Emmerdale’s audience dwarfed that of all its competitors in the 7pm-8pm slot, with The One Show its closest rival, drawing an average of 4m viewers (an 18.1% share) on BBC1 and BBC1HD.
The Yorkshire soap could not, however, match the ratings pull of ITV’s Coronation Street 50th anniversary live episode which attracted an average audience of over 14m viewers (52% share) in December 2010 as part of the tram crash “Corriegedden” week. Nor could it surpass the EastEnders 25th anniversary whodunit live special, watched by 15.6m viewers (58% share) on BBC1 in February 2010.