BBC4's heavily promoted adaptation of Michael Frayn's award-winning play Copenhagen has been a ratings flop, attracting just 18,000 viewers.
Despite glowing reviews and heavy advance publicity on BBC1 and 2 and Radio 4, the play put on hardly any extra viewers for the channel when it was shown between 9pm and 10.40pm last Thursday.
When BBC4 screened an adaptation of the controversial Falklands Play in April it peaked at more than 170,000 viewers - nearly 10 times the number that watched Copenhagen.
Frayn's play, based on a 1941 meeting between two physicists who were on opposite sides during the second world war, proved hugely popular when it was performed at the National Theatre in the late 1990s.
The television adaptation was almost universally praised, with the Guardian's Gareth McLean describing it as "a case study of how to transfer a stage play to the small screen with aplomb and dignity, giving proper writing and proper acting the care and attention they deserve".
But even heavy advance publicity and a star-studded cast that included Francesca Annis, Stephen Rea and Daniel Craig could not bring in the viewers.
The play's poor performance is bound to reignite criticism of the BBC for spending licence fee payers' money on programmes that appeal to so few people.
BBC4, which is available only on digital networks, made scarcely a dent in the viewing figures when it launched, attracting an average of 11,000 viewers on its first night on March 3.
In August it averaged only a 0.1% share of multichannel viewing - less than for the specialist channels Men & Motors and UK Food.