Entertainment & Arts

ITV's Victoria reigns over BBC's Are You Being Served? and Porridge revivals

Jenna Coleman as Queen Victoria (left) and Sherrie Hewson as Mrs Slocombe Image copyright ITV/BBC
Image caption Jenna Coleman as Queen Victoria (left) was up against Sherrie Hewson as Mrs Slocombe

Queen Victoria has beaten Mrs Slocombe to the TV ratings crown as ITV's new regal drama drew more viewers than BBC One's revival of classic sitcom Are You Being Served? on Sunday.

Overnight figures showed an average of 5.4 million people watched Jenna Coleman in Victoria, excluding +1.

Are You Being Served?, in which Sherrie Hewson donned Mrs Slocombe's pink wig, was seen by five million viewers.

It was followed by an updated Porridge, which attracted 4.4 million.

Image caption Jason Watkins' performance as Mr Humphries divided opinion

'A turgid half-hour'

The new versions of Are You Being Served? and Porridge are part of a season of BBC programmes to mark the 60th anniversary of the birth of the TV sitcom.

Are You Being Served? originally ran from 1972 to 1985. The one-off new episode was set in 1988.

Loose Women star Hewson played Mrs Slocombe, the character made famous by Molly Sugden, and Bafta Award winner Jason Watkins starred as Mr Humphries, originally played by John Inman.

But the show was described as a "turgid, interminable half-hour" by the Daily Telegraph's TV critic Michael Hogan.

'A spirited one-off homage'

It had a "lazy reliance on lavatorial humour and casual misogyny", he wrote, with Watkins' performance "the biggest misfire".

"Watkins is a fine actor, but here he was doing a toe-curling tribute act, cartoonishly camp and straining too hard for laughs. It made one appreciate Inman's iconic portrayal even more."

The Times' James Jackson was kinder on Watkins. He wrote: "You could forgive him for stealing the show, since the real crime here was the show itself."

The Guardian's Stuart Jeffries described it as "a spirited one-off homage", but added: "Thank heavens it's only a one-off, though."

Image caption Kevin Bishop played Norman Stanley Fletcher's grandson Nigel in Porridge

The new version of Porridge, meanwhile, was written by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, who were behind the original.

Sunday's episode was set in the present day and featured Kevin Bishop as the grandson of Norman Stanley Fletcher, famously played by Ronnie Barker in the 1970s. It got a slightly better reception.

The Telegraph's Michael Hogan wrote: "If one of last night's one-off revivals is to get a full series - and bearing in mind the recent ratings success of Still Open All Hours, you strongly suspect that is the BBC's intention - I'd much rather it was this one.

"Porridge left me with an indulgent grin on my face, rather than an Are You Being Served? cringe."

X Factor's figures drop

Earlier, ITV's The X Factor narrowly beat BBC One's Antiques Roadshow in its timeslot.

The second instalment of the talent show's 13th series was seen by 5.7 million people on ITV at 20:00 BST on Sunday - not including +1 and catch-up.

Antiques Roadshow pulled in 5.6 million, while the final of Robot Wars on BBC Two was watched by 1.4 million.

The ratings for X Factor's second episode were down on the 6.3 million who had tuned in for the first instalment on Saturday night.

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