Terminator series gives Virgin 1 record audience

LONDON - Virgin 1's 'Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles', which was backed by a heavyweight marketing campaign, debuted with 642,000 viewers last night, giving the channel its biggest audience to date.

The first episode of the hit US import attracted a 4.2% share of the multi-channel audience, according to unofficial overnight figures.

Including the time-shifted audience on Virgin 1+1, the show pulled in 744,000 viewers and a 4.82% share of the multi-channel audience.

The ratings comfortably top Virgin 1's 10pm-11pm slot average for the last 12 months - 116,000 viewers and a 0.77% share. The total audience in this slot, including Virgin 1+1, averages 126,000 viewers and a 0.84% share.

The series is set after the events of 'Terminator 2: Judgment Day' -- the critically acclaimed sci-fi hit film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The TV series features new actors in the parts of Sarah and John Connor, with newcomers Lena Headey and Thomas Dekker playing the roles respectively.

The Connors find themselves once again being stalked by Skynet's agents from the future, and realising their nightmare isn't over, they decide to stop running and focus on preventing the birth of the system before it evolves and manufactures an army of seemingly indestructible cyborgs in the future.

The series, which is sponsored by retailer PC World, was supported by online advertising, press ads, on-air trails and an innovative personalised video campaign on mobiles.

On the terrestrial channels, BBC One's time-warp drama 'Ashes to Ashes' failed to recapture its debut audience of 7m viewers from almost three weeks ago. Last night's third episode won its slot with 5.9m viewers and a 24.4% share in the 9pm slot.

It was up against ITV1's crime drama 'Trial and Retribution', which drew 4.2m viewers and a 17.3% share.

Channel 4 scored an impressive 2.2m viewers and a 9.2% share for a documentary which lifted a lid on the fascinating lives of film maker Sue Bourne's varied collection of West London neighbours.

'My Street', which included among others a music critic with cancer, a schizophrenic drug smuggler and a retired interior designer trying to write a sitcom, brought 2.4m viewers and a 10% share in the 9pm slot.

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