The first episode of the BBC’s lavish adaptation of the Victor Hugo classic Les Miserables was watched by 4.5 million people, according to overnight ratings.
The drama gave BBC One a 23.2% audience share, with viewership peaking at 4.7 million to win the 9pm timeslot, the corporation said.
The six-part drama stars The Affair’s Dominic West as prisoner Jean Valjean and David Oyelowo as Javert, the police inspector pursuing him.
It also stars Lily Collins in the role of Fantine, a part which landed Anne Hathaway an Oscar for the big-screen musical version in 2012.
On Sunday night devotees of the musical commented online that it was difficult to view the BBC drama without expecting one of the classic songs to begin.
Fans took to Twitter to voice their dismay at the straight playing of the work, including Conservative MP Anna Soubry.
She said: “Blimey #LesMiserables is a barrel of laughs …. not even a song to enjoy.”
Another viewer said: “Can someone please explain to me why they’ve made a Les Mis series with no singing? What is the point? Why can’t we Hear The People Sing?”
“Anyone else providing musical accompaniment in their head whilst watching?” asked another viewer.
Another posted: “Oh god my mind can’t take it … I’ve started singing every #LesMiserables song whenever their line makes a reference to the songs!”
Not everyone was so dismayed by the lack of songs and some corrected a misconception among some audience members.
One posted: “To those #philistines demanding songs in the new @BBC adaptation of #LesMiserables- it was a literary work long before the West End and Hollywood got their hands on it.
“As much as I love a song it’s not the be all and end all.”
The drama also won praise from presenter Gaby Roslin, who wrote: “That was so beautiful. Transported us into another time and another place.
“Can’t wait for next week. In every way that was superb. If you haven’t seen it, then catch up quickly it’s worth every single minute.”
Les Miserables continues on BBC One next Sunday at 9pm.