Henry VIII - Press Archive - Overnight ratings

Source: The Guardian
Blaine release takes Sky high
Claire Cozens
Monday October 20, 2003

Blaine: release from fast drew 2.5m viewers

David Blaine's anti-climactic exit from his suspended Perspex box last
night helped Sky One achieve one of its highest ever viewing figures
with more than 2.5 million viewers tuning in.

Blaine finally stumbled out of his cage last night at the end of an
hour-long show that was almost as much of an endurance test for
viewers as the illusionist's own 44-day ordeal had been.
Even the countdown to the end of his 44 days failed to bring his ordeal
to a climax - instead of being released, he stayed in his cage for another
25 minutes and was not lowered to the ground until minutes before
the hour long show ended at 10pm.
But heavy advance promotion ensured David Blaine: Above the Below
was still the fourth most popular show ever on Sky One, with a peak
audience of 2.53 million.
The show averaged 1.93 million in the ratings, a 13% share of the
multichannel audience. Only an episode of Friends, a Michael Jackson
documentary and Diana: Her True Story had bettered Blaine's ratings,
and the show was only slightly less popular than the start of his
experiment on Channel 4.
An estimated 250,000-strong crowd gathered on the banks of the
Thames to witness the end of Blaine's 44-day fast, which has been
shown live on Sky One since it started.
But spectators and Sky One viewers got only a brief glimpse of the
famous illusionist, who tried to deliver a speech only to break down in
tears before he was whisked off to hospital.
Sky One's record ratings came despite stiff competition form the
terrestrial channels, with Five attracting nearly 4 million viewers
for its terrestrial TV premiere of the hit film Gladiator.
Nearly one in five viewers watched the Russell Crowe movie, which
averaged 3.8 million in the ratings and peaked at 4.5 million at 11pm,
putting it well ahead of all the other terrestrial channels at that time.
Earlier in the evening BBC1 and ITV battled it out for top slot in peak
time, with the second half of a two-part Silent Witness on BBC1 just
beating the second half of historical drama Henry VIII on ITV. Silent
Witness pulled in 7.5 million while Henry VIII averaged 7.1 million.
But BBC1's ratings plummeted after Silent Witness and the news,
when a Panorama debate on university tuition fees failed to hold viewers
with just 2.3 million staying tuned.
BBC2 also enjoyed strong ratings for its line-up of documentaries, with
a Correspondent special following US special forces in Afghanistan
averaging 1.7 million.
Concorde: a Love Story, a 50-minute homage to the iconic plane,
performed even better with 2.6 million, or one in 10 viewers, watching.
This was more than twice as many as watched Sam Kiley's documentary
on Iraq, showing on Channel 4 at the same time.


Return to Henry VIII Press Archive

Return to Henry VIII Main Page

Return to The Compleat Sean Bean