Entertainment & Arts

Casual Vacancy beats Indian Summers in TV drama ratings

Sir Michael Gambon in The Casual Vacancy Image copyright Steffan Hill
Image caption Sir Michael Gambon plays parish council chairman Howard Mollison in The Casual Vacancy

BBC One's adaptation of JK Rowling's The Casual Vacancy has beaten Channel 4's Indian Summers in a head-to-head battle for Sunday night drama ratings.

The small-screen version of Rowling's first novel for adults had an average of 6.6 million viewers, according to overnight figures.

Channel 4's colonial drama, starring Julie Walters, had 2.5 million viewers.

However it was pushed into third place in the time slot by ITV's Mr Selfridge, which attracted 3.2 million viewers.

All three dramas were broadcast at 21:00 GMT.

The Casual Vacancy is set in the fictional and seemingly idyllic English village of Pagford, where tensions surface over plans to turn a community centre into a luxury spa.

The drama, starring Michael Gambon, Rory Kinnear and Keeley Hawes, drew a peak audience of 7.3 million and was watched by 27.5% of the overall TV audience.

Image copyright Channel 4
Image caption Indian Summers, starring Julie Walters, had a budget of £14m

It was revealed last week that the story's ending has been changed for TV to feature a "redemptive moment", after scriptwriter Sarah Phelps decided the novel's conclusion was a little too "grim".

Despite the tweaks, Harry Potter author Rowling has said she is "thrilled" with the adaptation.

Meanwhile, Channel 4 said Indian Summers, which had a budget of £14m, had recorded its "highest drama launch since Elizabeth I" in 2005.

Set in the foothills of the Himalayas, the 10-part saga attracted a further 400,000 viewers when +1 viewing was taken into account, taking the programme's overall average audience to 2.9 million.

"I'm thrilled that three million people were hooked by Indian Summer's unique mix of political intrigue and raw passion," Channel 4's chief creative officer Jay Hunt said.

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