UK Documentary & Lifestyle Broadcast Ratings. The Top 100 for 1H 2019. Notorious British Crime Delivers

It’s always a pleasure to share the UK’s highest-rated documentary and unscripted programs.

Here is my ratings snapshot for 1H 2019.

  • #1-50 are followed by my brief Takeaways.
  • Then #51-100.

Why UK Matters!

  • The UK is the #2 English-speaking television market.
  • It enjoys a well-funded Factual sector that has been a creative innovator for generations.
  • The data is relevant beyond the UK because many of my readers are seeking international co-pro’s, pre-buys and format licenses.
  • They are responding to the disruptive rise of SVOD, Netflix and other online viewing platforms.
  • For the broadcasters, this dramatic shift translates into slowly shrinking audiences, budgets and commissioning pipelines.

The UK Documentary & Hobbies Top 100
Jan 1 – June 30, 2019

  • The ‘000 P4+’ column refers to viewers 4 years and older in thousands.
  • Its an important measure of audience scale, but not necessarily of value because the commercial channels target specific demo’s.
  • 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.
Channel Programme Title ‘000 P4+ Share Sub Genre
1 BBC 1 Countryfile 6,564 33.5 Natural History & Nature
2 ITV Bradley Walsh & Son: Breaking Dad 6,447 28.5 Factual Entertainment
3 BBC 1 Antiques Roadshow 6,423 32.7 Hobbies/Leisure – General
4 BBC 1 Blue Planet Live 5,745 24.3 Natural History & Nature
5 BBC 1 Countryfile Winter Special 5,665 27.7 Natural History & Nature
6 Channel 4 The Great Celebrity Bake Off 5,183 21.0 Factual Entertainment
7 ITV Harry’s Heroes: The Full English 5,145 24.0 Pursuits – Lifestyle – Personal
8 BBC 1 Masterchef 5,015 22.5 Cookery
9 BBC 1 The Murder Of Jill Dando 4,901 21.4 Crime/Real Life
10 Channel 4 Leaving Neverland: Michael Jackson & Me 4,672 20.8 Celebrity / (Crime?)
11 ITV 63 Up 4,654 19.5 Human Interest
12 BBC 1 Earth From Space 4,494 17.8 Natural History & Nature
13 BBC 1 Celebrity Apprentice For Comic Relief 4,482 19.1 Factual Entertainment
14 ITV Fred & Rose West The Real Story 4,421 18.7 Crime/Real Life
15 ITV Long Lost Family: Born Without Trace 4,321 20.1 Human Interest
16 BBC 1 DIY SOS: The Big Build 4,172 19.2 Pursuits – Lifestyle – Home
17 BBC 1 Kilimanjaro: The Bigger Red Nose Climb 4,166 15.9 Factual Entertainment
18 ITV Long Lost Family 4,159 18.1 Human Interest
19 BBC 2 Top Gear 4,133 18.1 Pursuits – Automotive
20 ITV Martin Clunes: Islands Of America 4,057 16.1 Travel
21 ITV Britain’s Busiest Airport – Heathrow 4,041 22.8 Fly on the Wall
22 Channel 4 Gogglebox 4,034 18.6 Human Interest
23 Channel 4 Celebrity Gogglebox 3,985 19.1 Factual Entertainment
24 ITV The All New Monty: Who Bares Wins 3,985 19.7 Factual Entertainment
25 BBC 1 Ambulance 3,964 18.5 Human Interest
26 Channel 4 The Great New Year’s Bake Off 3,891 14.2 Factual Entertainment
27 BBC 1 The Real Marigold On Tour 3,840 15.8 Human Interest
28 ITV What The Durrells Did Next 3,821 21.3 Factual Entertainment
29 BBC 1 Eat Well For Less? 3,733 17.8 Cookery
30 ITV The All New Monty Ladies Night: Who Bare 3,701 17.7 Factual Entertainment
31 BBC 2 The Great British Sewing Bee 3,692 16.2 Hobbies/Leisure – General
32 BBC 1 The Chelsea Flower Show 3,685 21.1 Gardening
33 ITV Hatton Garden: The Inside Story 3,658 17.3 Crime/Real Life
34 BBC 1 Jack The Ripper – The Case Reopened 3,630 17.1 Crime/Real Life
35 ITV Psychopath With Piers Morgan 3,482 14.6 Crime/Real Life
36 Channel 4 SAS: Who Dares Wins 3,478 13.1 Factual Entertainment
37 ITV The Cruise: Shanghai To Sydney 3,470 16.3 Fly on the Wall
38 BBC 1 Blue Planet II: Oceans Of Wonder 3,392 17.0 Natural History & Nature
39 ITV Hard To Please 3,345 16.1 Factual Entertainment
40 ITV The Junk Food Experiment 3,315 16.3 Science/Medical
41 BBC 2 Race Across The World 3,226 14.0 Factual Entertainment
42 ITV Call The Cleaners 3,163 17.0 Fly on the Wall
43 ITV Jill Dando – The 20 Year Mystery 3,126 15.0 Crime/Real Life
44 ITV Britain’s Busiest Motorway 3,120 14.4 Fly on the Wall
45 ITV Britain’s Top 100 Dogs Live: 2019 3,119 13.7 Natural History & Nature
46 Channel 4 24 Hours In Police Custody 3,092 13.5 Crime/Real Life
47 ITV Victoria’s Palace 3,082 14.8 History
48 ITV Save Money: Good Diet 3,074 17.1 Human Interest
49 ITV Her Majesty’s Cavalry 3,066 15.4 Fly on the Wall
50 ITV Save Money: Lose Weight 2,999 17.1 Human Interest

TAKEAWAYS

Crime Pays

  • Great British crimes and criminality are revisited in the Top 50: the Hatton Garden heist, The Murder Of Jill Dando, Fred & Rose West, and even Jack The Ripper.
  • Crime and punishment are covered in Psychopaths (35) and Custody / Reality  (46)
  • Celebrity meets criminal behavior in a U.S. import Leaving Neverland: Michael Jackson & Me (10).
  • There’s lot’s more True Crime in the 51-100 list below, beginning with Code Blue: Murder (51) and Serial Killer confessions (52).

Royals Off The Calendar

  • The Windsors have dominated the Top 100 list for years with their births, weddings, birthdays, anniversaries and funerals.
  • But not in 1H19.
  • Meghan’s baby doesn’t rank until #53.
  • Victoria’s Palace is #47, though perhaps this is Victoria Beckham?
  • Cantering in at #49 is Her Majesty’s Cavalry.

Natural History Live

  • Blue Planet Live with David Attenborough scored at #4 with 5.7 million viewers.
  • Channels will rely increasingly on big LIVE events to compete with the vast entertainment inventories of the streamers like Netflix and soon Disney (with Nat Geo).
  • The channels need to crack LIVE formats in genres like Natural History to complement their dominance in Sports.
    • For example, A&E enjoys an international hit with Live PD.
    • And we covered  SafariLIVE, a unique 24×7 operation (Nat Geo Wild U.S.) that engages social media enthusiasts as well as scheduled audiences.
  • It was otherwise a meagre Top 50 half-year for the Wildlife genre, even for popular Pets programs: Britain’s Top 100 Dogs Live is #45. (Note LIVE!).

Celebrity / Pop Culture

  • Celebrity hosted documentaries and fundraisers did well, from Harry’s Heroes, Climbing Kilimanjaro, Celebrity Apprentice to Real Monty spinoffs, and more.

Franchises / Formats

  • I often congratulate the BBC’s lower-cost nostalgic franchises Countryfile and Antiques Roadshow for powerhouse scores, decade after decade.
  • Baking, lost families and other formats continue to thrive, though I’m waiting and waiting for a new British format as fresh as Gogglebox was years ago.
  • Note also that Channel 5 dropped out of the Top 100, with Ben Fogle: New Lives In The Wild at #131.

The Masterpiece

  • 63 Up (#11) is the latest visit to Seven Up (1964), Michael Apted’s revelation of childhood and of how children think about class and society, and of whether our destiny is determined by that tender age.
  • I was first taken in by Seven Up during a teacher training workshop at Erskine House in Lorne, steps off the beach where I had learned to surf and play beach cricket during my own childhood summers.
  • Seven Up has been on my Top 10 Documentary list ever since, and I was just thinking that its on my own Top 10 of all great British creative works of my lifetime.
  • It makes me happy to see that the UK audience in its 2.7 millions still loves to follow the Seven Up children as they approach old age.

The UK Documentary & Hobbies Top 100
Jan 1 – June 30, 2019

Rank Channel Programme Title ‘000 P4+ Share Sub Genre
51 ITV Code Blue: Murder 2,984 14.0 Crime/Real Life
52 ITV Confessions Of A Serial Killer 2,956 11.9 Crime/Real Life
53 ITV Secrets Of The Royal Babies: Meghan… 2,955 12.9 Human Interest
54 BBC 2 The Planets (BBC2) 2,950 13.2 Science/Medical
55 BBC 2 Billy Connolly: Made In Scotland 2,935 10.8 Celebrity
56 ITV What Would Your Kid Do? 2,932 15.1 Factual Entertainment
57 ITV Easyjet: Inside The Cockpit 2,925 14.0 Fly on the Wall
58 ITV Love Your Home And Garden 2,897 13.1 Hobbies/Leisure – General
59 ITV Fraud: How They Steal Your Bank Account 2,882 14.4 Crime/Real Life
60 ITV The Death Of Aimee Spencer 2,874 11.5 Crime/Real Life
61 ITV Death Row: Countdown To Execution 2,801 12.3 Crime/Real Life
62 BBC 2 Winterwatch 2,795 13.2 Natural History & Nature
63 ITV The Kyle Files 2,795 13.4 Crime/Real Life
64 ITV Joanne Dennehy: Serial Killer 2,794 13.0 Crime/Real Life
65 BBC 1 Danny Dyer’s Right Royal Family 2,792 12.1 Factual Entertainment
66 BBC 1 The Repair Shop 2,790 21.3 Hobbies/Leisure – General
67 BBC 2 Dragons’ Den 2,777 9.6 Factual Entertainment
68 ITV Love Your Garden (Cut Downs) 2,754 14.4 Gardening
69 BBC 1 Inside Out 2,745 13.3 Human Interest
70 Channel 4 Three Identical Strangers 2,745 14.0 Human Interest
71 BBC 2 Inside The Factory 2,728 13.3 Hobbies/Leisure – General
72 BBC 2 Gardeners’ World 2,700 14.2 Gardening
73 ITV 7 Up & Me 2,681 12.0 Human Interest
74 ITV Planet Child 2,667 11.9 Human Interest
75 ITV Jeremy Wade’s Mighty Rivers 2,640 12.8 Natural History & Nature
76 Channel 4 Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins 2,625 9.8 Factual Entertainment
77 ITV The Paras: Men Of War 2,623 10.3 Fly on the Wall
78 BBC 2 Forensics: The Real Csi 2,619 11.7 Crime/Real Life
79 Channel 4 Kirstie And Phil’s Love It Or List It 2,570 12.6 Pursuits – Lifestyle – Home
80 BBC 2 Mississippi: Earth’s Great Rivers 2,532 9.3 Natural History & Nature
81 BBC 1 The Truth About Antibiotics 2,526 11.6 Science/Medical
82 BBC 2 Back In Time For School 2,522 10.7 Factual Entertainment
83 ITV Australia With Julia Bradbury 2,521 11.7 Travel
84 ITV Countrywise 2,482 11.1 Human Interest
85 BBC 1 Antiques Road Trip 2,477 20.2 Hobbies/Leisure – General
86 Channel 4 Hunted 2,475 9.8 Factual Entertainment
87 ITV Martin Clunes: My Travels And… Animals 2,460 12.7 Travel
88 ITV John Bishop’s Ireland 2,454 12.3 Travel
89 ITV Bear’s Mission With David Walliams 2,431 11.4 Factual Entertainment
90 BBC 1 Escape To The Country 2,425 14.6 Human Interest
91 Channel 4 Grand Designs: The Street 2,425 11.3 Pursuits – Lifestyle – Home
92 BBC 2 Mary Berry’s Quick Cooking 2,414 11.4 Cookery
93 BBC 1 Nadiya: Anxiety And Me 2,413 10.8 Human Interest
94 Channel 4 Bake Off: The Professionals 2,353 11.1 Factual Entertainment
95 BBC 1 Life Of Pies – Our Lives 2,345 13.5 Human Interest
96 Channel 4 24 Hours In A & E 2,345 11.2 Fly on the Wall
97 BBC 2 Tom Kerridge’s Fresh Start 2,340 9.7 Cookery
98 BBC 1 Garden Rescue 2,328 13.8 Gardening
99 BBC 2 Nile: Earth’s Great Rivers 2,326 9.0 Natural History & Nature
100 BBC 2 Hospital 2,286 8.9 Science/Medical

Audience Analysis

  • My colleague Byron Media’s Dr John Morse is closely tracking SVOD ratings tools that are being developed by research firms, as well as deep dives into U.S. ratings for producers who are developing pitches or negotiating series extensions. Read more here.