Almost seven million people tuned in to watch the first instalment of Cilla, a three-part drama about the Liverpudlian songstress.
An audience of 6.7 million viewed the ITV biopic, which stars Sheridan Smith as “Anyone Who Has a Heart” singer Cilla Black - making it the biggest drama launch since last year’s murder mystery Broadchurch.
That figure accounted for a 29.7 per cent share of the audience between 9pm and 10pm on Monday night. Broadchurch opened to 7.43 million viewers.
The broadcaster confirmed the news on Twitter:
6.7 million viewers watched the opening episode of Cilla on ITV last night (ave inc+1) pic.twitter.com/r4yg9ZrarJ; ITV Press Centre (@itvpresscentre) September 16, 2014
Written by Jeff Pope, the mini-series also stars Aneurin Barnard as Cilla’s husband Bobby and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein.
Cilla achieved chart success in the Sixties with number one singles “Anyone Who Has a Heart” and “You’re My World”.
The programme depicts the excitement surrounding the Merseybeat music scene as a yet-unknown Cilla rubs shoulders with the young Beatles.
Smith was widely praised for her performance and has already been tipped for a Bafta.
And she was clearly thrilled by the response, tweeting:
Can I just say,then I'll shut up,but I am so overwhelmed by your lovely comments about Cilla!U made me bloody cryso chuffed u enjoyed it X; Sheridan Smith (@Sheridansmith1) September 16, 2014
Cilla returns to ITV on Monday at 9pm.