Weekend ratings round-up: ‘Merlin’s return conjures up 5.5m viewers

Merlin filled the Doctor-shaped hole in BBC One’s Saturday schedules this weekend and did so with style, drawing in an impressive 5.5m (23.5%) viewers.

Considering that the opening part of ‘Arthur’s Bane’ partially clashed with the first live show of this year’s X Factor, this is a particular strong start for the young sorcerer as he begins his fifth series on BBC One.

Channel 4 saw two shows return on Sunday 7th with differing fortunes. The launch of Homeland‘s second season, starring Damian Lewis and Claire Danes, entertained 2.3m (8.9%) people and was only slightly down on the 2.8m that saw the finale of the previous season.

The oddly scheduled Friday Night Dinner (on a Sunday?) fared less well with only 1m (5%) tuning in for the debut instalment of its second run. When you consider Series 1 (shown on a Friday) launched with 2.2m viewers last year these figures will be a massive disappointment for the channel.

Finally, as sure as night follows day, Downton Abbey on ITV1 pulled in over 9 million viewers again this week as 9.6m tuned in to the period drama, helping it to a 36.8% audience share.

> Order the Series 5 Volume 1 DVD of Merlin on Amazon.

Watch the trailer for Series 5 of Merlin

All data was supplied by Attentional, Digital Spy and The Guardian.

What did you enjoy on TV at the weekend? Let us know below…

> Read more from Chris in his blog, Boyle’s Law.