Broadcast in the 7:30pm slot vacated by Still Open All Hours after the end of its fourth series last week, the first episode of the new comedy achieved an audience peak of 7.2 million, averaging at 6.21 million over the full half hour.
Written by Charles McKeown, the comedy follows widow Edith (Steadman) and similarly single Phil (Cleese). Youth sweethearts, they are now neighbours and find their romance being rekindled in old age. Just as they decide to formalise their relationship and begin a new life together, Edith's middle-aged son, Roger (Watkins), turns up at the house, wanting to move back in and recapture his youth. Undergoing a mid-life crisis of sorts and having left both his job and own family, his presence immediately upsets Edith and Phil's plans - much to the frustration of both parties.
The overnight ratings reveal the comedy has become one of the biggest sitcom launches of the decade. The figures place the comedy higher than the launch of Peter Kay's Car Share in 2015 (5.68 million), and in recent times only bettered by the original Still Open All Hours special, which attracted more than 12 million viewers on Boxing Day 2013.
More generally, the statistics reveal it as the 37th most-watched programme in its timeslot over the last 52 weeks, with a 29.1% audience share.
Shane Allen, Controller Comedy Commissioning says: "This is a superb launch for a show that is awash with comedy acting royalty and cements the BBC's unique ongoing commitment to delivering mainstream popular comedy on BBC One."
For Edith (Alison Steadman), life is pretty good. She's been a widow for some years now, but her children live locally and drop by regularly, and she enjoys daily visits from Phil (John Cleese), an old boyfriend who now lives across the road.
Phil dreams of marrying Edith, and the pair of them upping sticks and moving abroad to the sunshine. But after months of turning him down, on the happy day Edith finally says "yes", there's a knock on the door - and there on the step, with a large suitcase, is her 50 year old son Roger (Jason Watkins). He announces that he's left his wife, his kids and his good job at the bank, and come home in an attempt to find his lost happiness again. And in a blink, to Edith's dismay and Phil's fury, all dreams are on hold.
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