Shirley, featuring Ruth Negga portraying the acclaimed singer's early career, averaged a tuneful 2.64m (11.7%) for BBC Two between 9pm and 10.15pm. A further 152k (0.7%) watched the drama on the BBC HD channel.
Over at Sky1, season three of Glee continued with 481k (2.1%) in the 9pm hour, down 158k on its debut episode last week.
Also on the multi-channels, The X Factor USA entertained 814k (3.6%) on ITV2 from 8pm, along with 198k (1%) on +1. Afterwards, comedy panel show Celebrity Juice amused 1.3m (7.1%) from 10pm and 163k (1.6%) on timeshift.
Back on the terrestrials, Billy Connolly's Route 66, featuring the comic travelling down the iconic US highway, had 4.15m (18%) on ITV1 in the 9pm hour and 248k (1.5%) on +1.
The show performed admirably against tough competition from BBC One's comedy hour, with Outnumbered and Would I Lie To You? pulling in 4.3m (18.4%) and 2.89m (12.8%) respectively from 9pm.
Elsewhere on BBC One, Watchdog was seen by 4.1m (17.9%) in the 8pm hour and Question Time quizzed 2.31m (18.8%) from 10.45pm.
Country House Rescue built 1.16m (5.1%) on Channel 4 in the 8pm slot and 180k (0.8%) on +1. New series Educating Essex educated 1.32m (5.8%) and 205k (1.2%) on timeshift. Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares served up 850k (5%) from 10pm, and 202k (2.2%) on +1.
If Walls Could Talk captivated 1.19m (6.1%) on BBC Two in the 7pm hour, before The Marvellous Mrs Beeton with Sophie Dahl delighted 1.38m (6%) from 8pm. Mock The Week amused 1.91m (10.5%) from 10.15pm.
Live coverage of Tottenham Hotspur's Europa League clash with Shamrock Rovers scored with 1.72m (7.7%) on Channel 5 between 7.30pm and 10pm. Afterwards, Big Brother entertained 1.29m (8.3%) from 10pm and spinoff Big Brother's Bit On The Side had 397k (4.9%) from 11pm.
Overall, ITV1 edged primetime with 20.4% (+1: 0.7%) against BBC One's 19.8%. BBC Two ranked in third with 8.3%, ahead of Channel 5 with 7.1% and Channel 5 with 4.7% (+1: 0.7%).
Elsewhere, Young Soldiers captivated 361k (1.6%) on BBC Three from 9pm. Lee Nelson's Well Good Show entertained 434k (2.8%) from 10.30pm.
BARB ratings data supplied by Attentional