More than 12 million Coronation Street fans tuned in to watch the final emotional moments of Mike Baldwin after 30 years on the show.
Audience viewing figures show a peak audience of 12.6m people watched Baldwin die in the arms of his long-time rival Ken Barlow.
The dramatic finale to Baldwin's slow decline from Alzheimer's Disease drew 58% share of the audience.
The 46-year-old soap usually attracts an audience of about 11 million.
An ITV1 spokeswoman said: "This was a historic moment in the Street's history and we are delighted that so many viewers tuned in to bid Mike Baldwin farewell."
Baldwin, played by Johnny Briggs, has been one of the soap's most enduring characters since he arrived in 1976.
He first appeared as a boyfriend of then Rovers barmaid Bette Lynch. He later fell in love with single mother Deirdre Langton. They dated for two years, but when they split she married Ken Barlow.
Mike Baldwin and Deidre Barlow rekindled their romance two years later, but their passionate affair was discovered by her husband, marking the start of their bitter rivalry.
Mike Baldwin had been suffering from Alzheimer's for several months and had been in hospital suffering from pneumonia.
Friday's episode saw him leave hospital and find his way back to the street in a daze, where he was found by Barlow.
His demise inspired the Radio Times to recreate the famous Death of Nelson painting, featuring Baldwin in the Nelson pose surrounded by fellow soap characters.
Briggs is also backing an Alzheimer's Society fundraising appeal to help those affected by the disease.
Now 70, he has been acting since the age of 12. His previous credits include small roles in Carry On films and BBC police series Z Cars.