So far in 2014, the BBC has been hitting ratings highs with drama, while Channel 4 has had mixed fortunes and Love Productions is in the thick of it on both channels.

Call the Midwife
returned to BBC one on Sunday evening with its third series and its biggest audience yet, clocking an average of 9.6 million during its hour long slot. It was followed by the first episode of new BBC drama The Musketeers, which also did well, with around seven and a half million viewers, while on ITV, the new series of Mr Selfridge attracted closer to five million.

The Great Sport Relief Bake Off, airing across last week, trounced the BBC’s new NHU extravaganza Hidden Kingdoms, which debuted on Thursday at 8pm and coincided with the Bake Off finale. The Bake Off kicked off on Monday, pulling in 3.7 million for BBC Two  and going up against another Love Productions success story on Channel 4, Benefits Street.

Benefits Street has been the biggest TV story this month on many levels, including ratings. Channel 4’s biggest ratings winner in over a year, it beat the other channels in the 9pm slot on Monday and attracted over five million viewers both this week and last week and almost as many on its first week on air. It outperformed drama on BBC One, New Tricks, and on ITV, The Bletchley Circle.

With two more weeks to go and controversy over the programme still raging, Benefits Street will hope to keep those numbers until the end of its five week run.

Channel 4 has had less success with its highly anticipated cook off, The Taste, with Nigella Lawson on a Tuesday at 9pm. The series, made through CPL, started out with 1.8 million viewers, but fell to one million viewers in the second week. It was up against Death In Paradise on BBC One which pulled in seven million.

It’s not just BBC drama that’s been going strong this month, starting with Sherlock getting close to 10 million, there’s also been a boost to key entertainment show The Voice, now in its third series. In the first week, new judge Kylie Minogue appeared to have buoyed numbers by an extra two million, with 8.4 million watching the first Saturday night episode of the current run and a 34 per cent audience share, compared with just over six million for the first episode of the last run in 2013. This week the share was still up, at 32 per cent.

Pippa Considine

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