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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 25 February, 2003, 11:59 GMT
Street drama hits ratings high
Coronation Street killer Richard Hillman, played by Brian Capron, threatening to make wife Gail, played by Helen Worth, his next victim
Street killer Richard Hillman has given the show a ratings boost
A double bill of ITV soap Coronation Street scored a big ratings hit on Monday, with more than 17 million people tuning in, according to initial viewing figures.

Viewers saw serial killer Richard Hillman admit to his wife Gail that he was a murderer and threaten to make her his next victim after she found out the truth.

An average of 17.2 million viewers saw the first instalment at 1930 GMT, with the second episode averaging 17.6 million at 2030 GMT.

That is two million more than saw Hillman, played by Brian Capron, kill Maxine Peacock, played by Tracy Shaw, in January.

But it is slightly less than the average of 17.9 million who watched the climax of the "Who killed Phil?" storyline in EastEnders in 2001.

Coronation Street's producers, Granada, said the ratings for Monday's shows peaked at 19.4 million during the second episode.

Top notch drama - of course some people will sneer, but this is what TV was made for
Jonathan Fox, UK

A Granada spokeswoman said they were "thrilled" by the ratings.

"The figures are truly staggering. The phones haven't stopped here with fantastic feedback," she said.

"The whole nation has woken up and is talking about it."

The National Grid also reported a massive power surge across the UK as viewers made cups of tea at the ends of the shows.

The serial killer storyline has given a boost to the show's ratings.

Figures up

It has been averaging about 15.1 million in 2003 - one million more than its BBC One rival EastEnders.

Monday's episodes are likely to be among the most-watched shows of the year - the most popular show of 2002, the Only Fools and Horses Christmas special, was seen by 16.93 million.

The most-watched episode of Coronation Street in the whole of 2002 was seen by 15 million.

Viewers have known all along that Hillman is the culprit - but since his marriage to Gail, he has become a respected member of the community.

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