'Kath and Kim' set mark with Aussie series debut

2.53 million tune in first episode

The weekend commercial television debut of comedy "Kath and Kim" knocked "Desperate Housewives" off its perch over the weekend as the top-rated new program on Australian TV.

Sunday's season premiere of the Melbourne-based comedy, which depicts "a pair of suburban nightmares living the suburban dream," drew an average 2.53 million viewers, making it the highest-ever first episode figure for any program, beating the 2005 premiere of "Desperate Housewives," which averaged 2.48 million.

The Sunday debut knocked Nine's "60 Minutes" and Ten's "Australian Idol" into 13th and sixth place, respectively, for the night, and drew shares in excess of 50%.

The stellar figures also make "Kath and Kim" the top-rated program on Australian television for the year to date, according to ratings figures from ratings agency OzTAM released Monday.

The show, created by stars Jane Turner and Gina Riley, was wrested away from the Australian Broadcasting Corp. by the Seven Network this year for a reported AUS$3 million ($2.4 million) for the eight-episode series after a successful three seasons on the national pubcaster.