The ceremony, featuring appearances from Stephen Hawking and Sir Ian McKellen, averaged 7.57 million (38.9%) between 8pm and 12.30am.
Meanwhile, ITV crashed to a record low in the 9pm slot, mustering just 599k (2.5%) for Britain Then and Now. Fellow documentary Super Tiny Animals had 1.35m (5.9%) an hour earlier.
BBC One fared slightly better at 8pm with The Flowerpot Gang interesting 1.7m (7.4%). Who Do You Think You Are? followed with 3.57m (14.6%).
Celebrity Big Brother maintained a solid 1.8m (7.4%) on Channel 5, adding 155k (0.8%) on +1. John Barrowman's Dallas managed 814k (3.8%) at 10pm.
Overall, Channel 4 claimed a historic primetime victory with a share of 30.4% (+1: 0.6%). BBC One finished in the runner-up spot with 13.1%, while ITV1 had 8.4% (+1: 0.5%), BBC Two followed with 4.6%, and Channel 5 averaged 4.1% (+1: 0.2%).
BARB ratings data supplied by Attentional