'Mosque' full on opening night

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TORONTO -- The debut of Canadian Broadcasting Corp.'s "Little Mosque on the Prairie" drew more than two million viewers Tuesday night, beating out its U.S. network competition.

Launched amid a media circus that included worldwide coverage from CNN, BBC and the New York Times, the sitcom about a Muslim community in rural Canada drew an average 2.1 million viewers in its Tuesday 8:30 p.m. slot, according to BBM Nielsen numbers.

In a TV market where 1 million viewers spells success and homegrown series rarely crack the top 20, "Little Mosque on the Prairie" won out against Fox's "House" on Global Television and CTV homegrown drama "Degrassi: The Next Generation."

"We're absolutely thrilled," Kirstine Layfield, the CBC's executive director of network programming, said Wednesday.

She added that viewing for the homegrown sitcom, created and written by Zarqa Narwaz, was helped by leaders of the Canadian Muslim community who told followers to tune into the show because it was funny.

"We're told the clerics were telling people to view the show, in a positive way," Layfield said.

The sitcom's debut was preceded by extensive media attention to a show that the CBC billed as a comic take on ordinary Muslims in a post-9/11 world.
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