UK History Programs: Top 25 in the Year of COVID (1st Half 2020)

Here is a breakout of the Top 25-rated UK History programs in 1H 2020.

  • Read my interview notes with BBC History buyer Simon Young at Sunny Side, including his insights concerning A House Through Time
  • And see my post capturing the Top 100 UK Factual in the COVID Era.

Channel 4’s VE Day in Colour

UK Broadcast Audience
History Category
Top 25, 1H
2020

Rank Channel Program ‘000 Share
1 BBC 2 A House Through Time 3,816 17.5
2 ITV Captain Tom’s War 2,876 14.4
3 BBC 2 Back in Time for the Corner Shop 2,600 12.7
4 C5 Princess Anne: The Daughter… 2,163 12.0
5 BBC 2 Villages by the Sea 2,085 10.7
6 ITV Our Queen at War 2,078 9.2
7 BBC 2 Keeler, Profumo, Ward and Me 2,022 13.7
8 ITV Return to Belsen
2,017 8.3
9 BBC 2 Belsen: Our Story 1,709 6.6
10 BBC 2 Little Ships – The Miracle of Dunkirk 1,628 9.7
11 C4  VE Day in Colour: Britain’s Biggest Party 1,457 6.4
12 C5 Portillo’s Empire Journey 1,450 5.5
13 C4  Secrets of Egypt’s Valley of the Kings 1,396 5.4
14 C4  Lost Pyramids of the Aztecs 1,387 7.1
15 C5 The Yorkshire Steam Railway: All Aboard 1,360 6.1
16 C5 King George VI: The Accidental King 1,350 7.5
17 C5 Tony Robinson’s History of Britain 1,348 6.8
18 BBC 2 Timewatch 1,347 8.2
19 C5 VE Day: The Lost Films 1,344 6.2
20 C5 Queen Mary: How She Saved the Royals 1,327 7.9
21 C5 Princess Margaret: Rebel Without a Crown 1,302 8
22 C5 The Royals: A Family in Crisis 1,298 6.9
23 C5 Royals in Wartime 1,295 5.9
24 BBC 2 Dig WW2 with Dan Snow 1,295 6.9
25 C5 Royals on Tour 1,279 5

Notes on the Data

  • The ‘000 P4+’ column refers to viewers 4 years and older in thousands.
  • Share refers to the program’s share of television sets in use at that time.
  • The data refers to highest single episode in a series.
  • The categories come from BARB, and titles are sometimes incomplete.

Comfort Food

  • A friend sent this comment on Food trends during COVID and pointed to its relevance to television entertainment.

Tasting on Familiar Foods: During the outbreak, many consumers are seeking comfort and familiarity in the pantry. Thirty-seven per cent of UK consumers are revisiting dishes from their childhood in lockdown (Co-op, 2020). Traditional quick-fix packet desserts have also seen an uptick – including a 336% increase in custard powder sales (Co-op, 2020). 

  • On the other hand, the combined audience for the BBC and ITV programs on the Belsen concentration camp does capture the UK viewer’s interest in the toughest of subjects.
  • And the “Land & Country” theme that I described in my Top 100 Takeaways is picked up here with multiple stories that showcase British heroism.
  • The Royals are not making waves in the Top 100, but they are subjects of eight of the Top 25 in the History list.

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