Entertainment & Arts

Victoria and Poldark both attract 5 million viewers

Jenna Coleman and Aidan Turner Image copyright Getty Images / PA
Image caption Victoria stars Jenna Coleman as the long-reigning monarch, while Aidan Turner plays Ross Poldark

BBC One's Poldark and ITV's Victoria both attracted about 5 million viewers in a close ratings battle on Sunday evening.

An average of 5.1 million viewers watched the first episode of the second series of Poldark, a drama set in 18th Century Cornwall.

Victoria's third episode was seen by an average of 4.8 million.

However, that figure rose to 5.2 million when viewers watching on ITV+1 were included.

The series stars Jenna Coleman - best known for her role as Clara Oswald in Doctor Who - as Queen Victoria.

The X Factor was the most watched programme on Sunday evening, with an average of 7.6 million viewers tuning in to the third episode of ITV's singing competition.


Critics were broadly positive about the return of Poldark, which stars Aidan Turner.

The Guardian's Sam Wollaston wrote: "Weekends, with the nights beginning to close in, are better places with Poldark back."

Ian Hyland in The Daily Mirror said: "The breathless opener surely calmed any fears that this series of Poldark might not be as good as the first.

He added: "It was great to see all the old favourites back... to be honest, they had me at 'Previously on Poldark.'"

Jan Moir in The Daily Mail said the show was "on cracking form".

She particularly praised the episode for the scenes in which Turner was seen shirtless, adding: "On this show, the Great British Take Off is a sure sign that autumn is here and all is well in the world."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Aidan Turner appears with Eleanor Tomlinson and Jack Farthing in Poldark

But Carol Midgley in The Times gave the show three stars, and questioned whether Turner's character had been made unrealistically virtuous.

"One did start to wonder, are they at risk of overdoing the righteousness of Saint Ross? He's so perfect he's approaching caricature," she said.

"What with standing up for the poor, rescuing and marrying servant girls and defending people's honour... the next step surely is walking on water."

Writing in The Telegraph about the two programmes, Allison Pearson said: "Despite a strong cast, a first-rate script and impeccable historical pedigree, Victoria feels less true than the made-up story on BBC One.

"Of course, that may well change as the young Queen grows up. For the moment, the smart money in the great Sunday-night telly battle has to be on the irresistible Poldark."

The first series of BBC One's Poldark was broadcast in March 2015 and quickly became popular with viewers.

In July, the BBC confirmed a third series has already been commissioned.

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