The first episode of the four-part series, which charts the rise and fall of the executed Iraqi dictator, averaged a solid 2.72m (13.2%) for the channel in the 9pm hour. It was just 26,000 viewers behind ITV1's Trinny and Susannah Undress The Nation, which began its new series with 2.75m (13.3%).
BBC One's Panorama special, 'Racing's Dirty Secrets', drew 2.94m (14.2%) at the same time, while on Channel 4, Big Brother interested 2.9m (14.1%) and a further 476,000 on Channel 4+1. Trailing the four-way race for first place in the 9pm hour was Five, which could only muster 747,000 (3.6%) for organ transplant doc Lifesavers.
Earlier, new wildlife documentary Lost Land of the Jaguar opened strongly for BBC One, averaging 4.52m (22.9%) in the 8pm hour. ITV1's The Bill won the slot with 4.99m (25.3%) and Channel 4's Location, Location, Location had 1.98m (10.1%). On BBC Two, a double-bill of Francesco's Mediterranean Voyage managed 1.27m (6.7%) and 1.42m (7%) respectively.
A Room 101 repeat, in which Phillip Schofield revealed pet hates such as Gordon The Gopher, drew 1.73m (9.1%) to BBC Two at 10pm. It finished ahead of Channel 4's new series Dangerous Jobs For Girls, which interested 1.38m (8.3%). Five's Jet Li movie The One averaged 660,000 (4.6%) between 10pm and 11.40pm.
Coronation Street was the day's top draw with 7.71m (44.1%) at 7.30pm, with Emmerdale in second on 5.9m (36.7%).
First-look Home & Away was the top multichannel performer, with an average of 592,000 (4.5%) for Fiver at 6.30pm. ITV2 movie Outbreak, starring Dustin Hoffman, brought in 527,000 (3.5%) between 9pm and 11.30pm. BBC Three's comedy movie Freaky Friday entertained 418,000 (3.1%) over 90 minutes from 10pm, and on Dave, 449,000 (2.6%) watched a Top Gear polar special at 8pm.