'What the BBC Knew', an hour-long broadcast into the corporation's handling of the Savile revelations, gave Panorama its best audience of the year.
Some 5.09 million, a 38.9% share, chose to stay up after the BBC News to watch the programme which aired between 10.35pm and 11.40pm - way above than the 1.7m figure for ITV's original scoop.
Earlier on the channel, New Tricks posted a solid 7.42m (30.4%) in the 9pm hour, prior to which an unadvertised Fake Britain had 3.58m (14.6%) in Panorama's normal pre-watershed slot of 8.30pm.
University Challenge hit a series high of 3.23m (13.2%) for BBC Two at 8pm, perhaps benefiting from the departure of Paul O'Grady from ITV's schedule.
Meanwhile, Monroe's troubles deepened as the ITV medical drama sunk to a new series low of 2.72m (11.2%) at 9pm (+1: 189k/1.1%).
999: What's Your Emergency continued with a decent 2.14m (8.8%) for Channel 4 (+1: 367k/2%) at the same time, and 1.03m (5.1%) watched Channel 5's screening of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.
Overall, BBC One topped primetime with 24.6%, beating ITV1's 20.4% (+1: 0.7%). BBC Two claimed third place with 8.3%, ahead of Channel 4's 5.3% (+1: 0.9%), and Channel 5's 4.2% (+1: 0.2%).
Made in Chelsea (403k/2.2%) overtook Switch (383k/2.1%) in 10pm's E4 versus ITV2 ratings battle, though both ended up losing viewers.
Only Connect, however, soared to a new series high of 995k (4.1%) for BBC Four, while the UK premiere of US action drama Arrow dazzled 888k (3.6%) for Sky1.
BARB ratings data supplied by Attentional