Agatha Christie's Poirot beats Tess with 5.1m viewers

LONDON - 'Agatha Christie's Poirot' on ITV1 narrowly beat BBC One's Thomas Hardy drama 'Tess of the D'Urbervilles' on Sunday night with 5.1m viewers, according to unofficial overnight figures.

ITV1 pulled in 5.1m viewers and a 24% share of the 9pm-11pm audience for the third episode of 'Agatha Christie's Poirot', starring David Suchet, Zoe Wannamaker and Jemima Rooper.

It pipped the third episode of the BBC's four-part adaptation of 'Tess of the D'Urbervilles', starring Gemma Arterton, which attracted 5m viewers and a 20.2% share of the 9pm-10pm audience.

The first episode of 'James May's Big Ideas', featuring the 'Top Gear' presenter exploring inventions to beat traffic jams, drew 3m viewers to BBC Two and an 11.9% share of the 9pm-10pm audience.

Five's airing of the Will Smith comedy 'Hitch' pulled in 1.5m viewers and a 7.8% share of the 9pm-11.30pm audience, narrowly beating 'Pan's Labyrinth' on Channel 4, which attracted 1.3m viewers and a 6.5% share. Including Channel 4+1 figures it reached 1.5m viewers.

Earlier in the evening the second boot camp instalment of 'X Factor' netted 8.9m viewers and a 37.9% share of the 7pm-8pm audience on ITV1, while the 'Strictly Come Dancing' results show drew 8.1m viewers and a 31.5% share of the 8pm-9pm audience on BBC One.

The Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix, the first ever night race, attracted 3.8m viewers and a 39.3% share of the 12pm-3pm audience.

The race, which was won by Renault's Fernando Alonso after Felipe Massa dropped out of poll position when he drove out of the pits with the fuel hose still attached, peaked at 4.9m viewers between 2.45pm and 3pm.

On Saturday night BBC One's 'Strictly Come Dancing' beat ITV's 'X Factor' for the first time with 8.7m viewers tuning in, a 41.3% share of the 6.45pm-7.45pm audience.

The first boot camp episode of 'X Factor', which narrowed the contestants down to 16 acts, netted 8.2m and a 35.9% share of the 7.45pm-8.45pm audience. This was down over 1m viewers on the last episode of the auditions stage last Saturday.

The second episode of 'Merlin' on BBC One dropped 1.6m viewers from its debut last week to 5m and a 30.4% share of the 6pm-6.45pm audience.