The first episode of the new series - starring Marshall Lancaster as DC Chris Skelton - was seen by 7.01m (29.2%) during the 9pm hour.
Last year, the first series of the Life On Mars sequel debuted to 7m on February 7.
The latest visit to Hell's Kitchen pulled in 4.48m (18.6%) during the hour, and the third in Channel 4's Henry VIII: Mind Of A Tyrant series attracted 1.64m (6.8%).
The final episode of Five's Extreme Fishing With Robson Green was seen by 1.45m (6%), while 1.28m (5.3%) tuned in for the latest Heroes on BBC Two.
Earlier, at 8pm, Dispatches: Crash - How The Banks Went Bust pulled in 1.17m (5.2%) for Channel 4, and 1.11m (5%) watched The Gadget Show on Five.
Over on BBC Two, a new series of Wainwright Walks opened to 1.85m (8.6%). The audience then dropped to 1.72m (7.4%) during the 8.30pm screening of Nigella Express.
The Truth About Immigration: Tonight took 2.87m (13.5%) for ITV1 between 8pm and 8.30pm, and Panorama drew 3.86m (16.7%) for BBC One at 8.30pm.
Overall, BBC One led primetime with an average share of 26.2% to ITV1's 23.6%. Channel 4 was third with 5.3% (+1: 0.6%), followed by BBC Two's 5.8% and Five with 4.5%.
Elsewhere, a new episode of Heroes put in 623k (5%) for BBC Three between 10.30pm and 11.15pm, and the latest 24 was seen by 508k (2.3%) on Sky1 during the 9pm hour.
BBC Four weather documentary Snow interested 469k (2.2%) at 9pm.
Ratings data supplied by Attentional