TV viewers had a difficult choice to make on Sunday evening as ITV’s ‘Victoria’ went head-to-head with the return of the BBC’s ‘Poldark’ in the 9pm slot. Both period dramas were a big hit with viewers, but somewhat surprisingly ‘Victoria’ managed to win the ratings war, narrowly beating Aidan Turner’s return.

Aidan TurnerAidan Turner is back as Captain Ross Poldark

According to early viewing figures from Overnight TV, 'Poldark' scored 5.1 million viewers on the BBC, taking 22.7% of the audience share. But ‘Victoria’ managed slightly better on ITV, with 5.3 million viewers and a 23.5% audience share.

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‘Victoria’, which stars ‘Doctor Who’s’ Jenna Coleman as the young queen, is on its third episode and follows the monarch from her accession to the throne at the age of 18 through to her courtship and marriage to Prince Albert.

‘Poldark’, which was a huge hit with viewers last year, returned for its second series, with Aidan Turner back as the often shirtless Captain Ross Poldark. Critics welcomed the show’s return, which left fans with a shock cliffhanger ending.

The Guardian’s Sam Wollaston praised the episode writing: "Weekends, with the nights beginning to close in, are better places with Poldark back”. Gerard O'Donovan in The Telegraph added: "There were no signs here of nerves or second album syndrome. Picking up from exactly where we left off... Poldark came out all guns blazing.”

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Fans on Twitter were also happy to see the show back and to once again be treated to Turner’s famous torso. “So it only took him 20 minutes to get shirtless this season. We're making progress. #Poldark,” tweeted one viewer. Another added: “Sunday nights just got so much better topless mining is the way to go #Poldark.”