Minghella finale 'Agency' attracts a crowd on BBC1

Sun. ratings clobber competition

More than 6 million viewers tuned in to Anthony Minghella's final television project, "The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency," when it aired Easter Sunday on BBC1.

"Agency," which attracted 6.3 million viewers and a 27% share of the audience in its 9 p.m. slot, is slated to air next year as a backdoor pilot on HBO.

Before Minghella's death last week, the U.S. cable network ordered 13 episodes of the potential series from the Weinstein Co. HBO is expected to stick to its plans for "Agency" and will meet with the Weinstein Co. and the producers soon to discuss ways to proceed with the production.

The decision to maintain the Easter airdate for the 105-minute film, co-written with Richard Curtis and based on the book series by Alexander McCall Smith, was supported by Minghella's family.

Starring R&B singer Jill Scott, the drama centers on Precious Ramotswe, who sets up Botswana's first all-ladies detective agency after the death of her father.

The broadcast attracted almost twice the viewing of the nearest competitor, the ITV1 crime thriller "He Kills Coppers," which attracted 3.8 million viewers and a 15% audience share.

Chad Williams in Los Angeles contributed to this report.