ITV's flagship £14 million autumn sea epic, based on CS Forrester's tales of Napoleonic war hero Horatio Hornblower, has failed to live up to its hype, attracting just 8.2 million viewers on its first showing.
Hornblower, the first of four £3 million films to be shown, pulled in an audience the same as BBC1's cult interior design programme, Changing Rooms.
The four-part series is ITV's most expensive production. It features lavish special effects, a cast of thousands and a specially-built three-masted frigate. BBC's Changing Rooms costs £60,000 per episode.