Comedy Central scores biggest ever audience

Thanks to a naked Ashton Kutcher

Comedy Central scored its biggest ever audience last night – when it screened the first episode of Two And A Half Men since Charlie Sheen left the show.

Replacement Ashton Kutcher’s debut episode was seen by 803,000 viewers at 9pm last night. That represented 3.4 per cent of the entire TV audience at the time – and more than five and a half times Comedy Central’s usual audience for the slot.

The episode’s success was even greater in the States, where 28.7million tuned in on Monday, the highest ratings for the show since it began in 2003 and twice the audience of the previous season’s opening episode.

Sheen's character Charlie Harper was killed off comprehensively by producers, who had been publicly, and very bitterly, berated by their former star.

Viewers learned Harper had slipped from the platform of a Paris Metro station into the path of an oncoming train and ‘exploded like a balloon full of meat’. The opening scenes were set at Charlie’s funeral... but his remains met an even more ignominious end, as his bother Alan dropped the ashes, and they were sucked up into a Dust Buster.

Kutcher’s character is called Walden Schmidt, an internet billionaire who showed up naked, walking through the dust of the scattered ashes, after failing to kill himself in the freezing Malibu ocean.

Sheen, who left the show amid a series of sex and drug benders, is said to have been impressed with his successor, with gossip website reporting that he told friends: ‘I thought it was the best intro for a new a character on a TV show of all time.’

Sheen is currently negotiating a settlement over his departure, which could net him up £16million up front and up to £64million in syndication rights.

Published: 21 Sep 2011

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