Richard III: The King in the Car Park pulled in 3.27m (13.9%) between 9pm and 10.45pm, adding 443,000 on Channel 4 +1.
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The programme impressively beat BBC Two's new jazz band drama Dancing on the Edge which premiered with 2.26m (9.5%).
However, remarkably, BBC Two still managed to usurp Channel 4 to third place among the terrestrials, thanks to strong performances from University Challenge (2.96m/11.7%) and Food and Drink (2.64m/10.4%) during the 8pm hour.
Over on BBC One, the series three finale for Mrs Brown's Boys amused 6.43m (24.9%), signalling a low but considered decent without the lead-in from Miranda, which finished last week. A repeat of Outnumbered took Miranda's place at 9pm with 3.64m (14.7%).
The channel aired a new comedy in the later 10.35pm slot, as Being Eileen opened with 2.43m (16.9%).
Meanwhile, ITV's penultimate episode of Lewis took 5.81m (23%) as well as 394,000 on +1.
Police Interceptors was easily Channel 5's most-watched broadcast of the day with 1.23m (4.9%) in the 8pm hour.
Overall, ITV won primetime with 24.6% (+1: 0.8%) above BBC One's 19.7%. BBC Two earned third place with 8.6% ahead of Channel 4's 7.5% (+1: 0.7%), and Channel 5 had just 3.3%.
BARB ratings data supplied by Attentional