BBC One's Bodyguard has become the biggest new drama on British TV for more than a decade.
The new series has proved so popular that the channel is extending the series finale later this year.
The six-part run will end with a 75-minute special, pushing the News Of Ten out of its slot.
An insider told The Sun newspaper: “Giving an episode of any drama series more than a 60-minute slot is a rare event on the BBC, so this proves just how much they value Bodyguard.
“Viewers are unlikely to complain, given that the audience response tends to be that they’ve usually been left wanting more every time."
They added: “This should ensure that Bodyguard’s climax is unforgettable, particularly as the tension has been continually rising over the last three episodes.”
Episode one of BBC One’s Bodyguard received a consolidated figure of 10.4 million viewers, with a 40.9% share.
This is the highest launch figure for any new drama across all UK channels since 2006.
Bodyguard’s showrunner Jed Mercurio, said this week: “The success of Bodyguard is a tribute to the magnetism of our two leads, Richard Madden and Keeley Hawes. I'm exceedingly grateful to World Productions and to the BBC who have supported the project throughout production, and to the viewers who’ve responded with such enthusiasm.”
Charlotte Moore, Director of BBC Content, added: “I’m thrilled with the response to BBC One’s new Sunday night drama Bodyguard, the figures are extraordinary and all credit to the mastermind creator and writer Jed Mercurio who is surprising the audience at every turn.”
Simon Heath, CEO & Creative Director of World Productions, commented: “We’re all delighted. These figures reflect how Jed’s terrific scripts in combination with Richard and Keeley’s brilliant performances made Bodyguard appointment to view TV”.
Bodyguard continues on BBC One this Sunday at 9pm. The first three episodes are all available on BBC iPlayer.