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Monday, 3 September, 2001, 16:57 GMT 17:57 UK
Absolutely fabulous ratings for return
Absolutely Fabulous
EastEnders' Michael Greco featured in the show
The first new episode of comedy Absolutely Fabulous for five years attracted 7.5 million viewers when it was screened on Friday night.

The hit BBC One show scored a victory over ITV1's The Bill spin-off, Beech Is Back, which was watched by 5.9 million people, according to unofficial overnight figures.

Absolutely Fabulous's return was hotly anticipated, and the first episode of the new series has been praised for recreating the show's winning formula after its break from the screens.

The comedy, which stars Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley, was one of the most successful new sitcoms of the 1990s.

Overhaul

It attracted 35% of the available audience between 2100-2130 BST, according to the overnight figures.

The Bill: Beech Is Back won 28%.

My Family
My Family: Successful start to second series
In the new series of Absolutely Fabulous, Edina's kitchen has been overhauled into the 21st Century and so have the characters.

Edina, played by Saunders, is now a TV producer, with her "fingers in many pies, darling", while her straight-laced daughter Saffy, played by Julia Sawalha, works for New Labour.

The show featured guest appearances from Twiggy, Richard and Judy, Lady Victoria Hervey, EastEnders actor Michael Greco and former Boyzone star Stephen Gately.

Fall back

The return of My Family, another BBC One sitcom, was also described as a success, attracting 6.4 million viewers, or 32% of the audience.

Starring Zoe Wannamaker and Robert Lindsay, the show began its second series at 2030 BST on Friday.

It beat ITV1's Holiday Airline, which drew 5.7m viewers.

But BBC1's audience fell back to 5.3 million viewers when Absolutely Fabulous finished and documentary There's Only One David Beckham started.

See also:

31 Aug 01 | Reviews
Absolutely spot on
31 Aug 01 | Reviews
Absolutely Fabulous: Your views
23 Aug 01 | TV and Radio
New season starts here
30 Aug 01 | Film
Ab Fab? Pas du tout
04 Jul 01 | TV and Radio
BBC revives classic sitcoms
06 Dec 00 | Entertainment
Absolutely Fabulous returns
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