Entertainment & Arts

War and Peace tops ratings and wins rave reviews

Paul Dano as Pierre Bezukhov, Lily James as Natasha Rostov and James Norton as Prince Andrei
Image caption War and Peace sees three young people experience life, love and loss against the epic backdrop of Russia's wars with Napoleon

The first episode of the BBC's new costume drama War and Peace was watched by more than six million viewers.

The drama, which stars Paul Dano, Lily James and James Norton, has also won rave reviews.

The adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's novel averaged 6.3 million viewers, peaking at 6.7 million.

It was up against ITV's Endeavour and spy drama Deutschland 83 on Channel 4, which averaged 4.4 million and 1.2 million viewers respectively.

War and Peace picked up 25% of the audience share, against 19% for Endeavour, 6% for Deutschland 83 and 4.1% for My Mediterranean with Adrian Chiles on BBC Two.

The costume drama has been written by Andrew Davies, who is best known for his 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice starring Colin Firth.

'Sweeping victory'

In the Daily Telegraph Serena Davies gave it four stars, calling it "an excellent adaptation" and "smart storytelling on a truly epic scale".

Christopher Stevens in the Daily Mail called the opening hour-long episode "nothing less than a sweeping victory".

While The Guardian's Viv Groskop said: "It's hard to imagine how the BBC could have done a better job."

Downton Abbey star James plays Natasha Rostov in the drama, with Dano - who starred in 12 Years a Slave - as Pierre Bezukhov and Grantchester star James Norton as Prince Andrei.

The classic novel follows the three as they experience love and loss against the backdrop of Russia's wars with Napoleon.

It also stars Gillian Anderson, Rebecca Front and Stephen Rea, who were also praised for their performances.

The show has been made by the BBC in collaboration with The Weinstein company and will premiere on Lifetime, A&E and History channel in the US on 18 January.

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