This weekend on BBC One, it feels as though viewers of Les Miserables found themselves dealing with a rather-shocking surprise — there’s a difference between an adaptation of a book and a musical.
Given the widespread popularity of the musical at this point all over the world, we’re looking at a fairly-rare case here of an adaptation that is actually infinitely more popular than the original work. With that, you do have a deluge of people who feel, for whatever reason, as though every iteration of the work from now on has to have songs in it. Clearly, Les Miserables writer Andrew Davies disagrees with said notion. There were no musical numbers in the first hour and there won’t be any others moving forward — though it does seem as though some familiar music cues will pop up in the background here and there.
If there are enough viewers who can overcome the fact that this limited series is not meant to be a musical, down the line it should prove itself to be more than fine. Otherwise, there could be a little bit of trouble here.
As for the premiere viewership, the first episode generated in total 4.5 million viewers — that’s a decent number, but it does fall below many other recent BBC productions including The Little Drummer Girl and Bodyguard. Given that this was not a cheap show to make, we do think that it could need a little bit of catch-up viewership in order to be deemed a true success for the network. One of the things that was working against it clearly was that it aired over the holiday season — while holiday viewing in the UK is a little bit more common than it is here in America, it’s still not something that everyone out there is necessarily on board with. The next new episode on Sunday is going to prove to be an interesting test for the show, largely because the holidays will be over, but there is also a chance that the series loses some viewers who were not necessarily in love with the premiere. Given some of the blowback we’ve already discussed here, we wouldn’t be surprised to see the numbers overall dip down to around 4.2 million people watching as a whole.
Expect some big viewing on the BBC in general over the next few days — after all, tomorrow brings with it the Doctor Who – New Year’s Day special and there is also going to be the premiere of Luther season 5 to go along with it.
What do you think about this first batch of Les Miserables ratings for BBC One? Be sure to share right now in the attached comments! (Photo: BBC One.)