UK Viewers: What Did They Watch before the Olympics? Part 1: Top 100 Factual Programs, 1st Half, 2012

Here is our own tribute to London 2012 – the first of three posts that cover the UK  audience for factual programs.

A friend shared a recent report on the ratings for UK factual programs and docs broadcast through the end of  June.

Here is a chart of the Highest-rated Factual programs by broadcast network.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These were the Top 100 nonfiction shows for 1H 2012, with our Takeaways:

Title Channel ‘000 Share
1 The Apprentice BBC 1 8,054.1 29.8
2 Countryfile BBC 1 7,594.2 26.6
3 Big Fat Gypsy Weddings CH4 7,234.5 24.9
4 The Diamond Queen BBC 1 7,117.3 23.7
5 The Apprentice: The Final BBC 1 6,987.3 25.8
6 Planet Earth Live BBC 1 6,061.4 22.9
7 Elizabeth: Queen, Wife, Mother ITV1 5,701.2 23.4
8 John Bishop’s Sport Relief Hell BBC 1 5,638.4 21.5
9 Long Lost Family ITV1 5,628.4 21.4
10 56 Up ITV1 5,488.9 20.8
11 Farewell Becky ITV1 5,088.2 20.3
12 Earthflight BBC 1 5,075.3 18.1
13 Super Smart Animals BBC 1 5,058.1 20.9
14 Bomber Boys BBC 1 5,035.5 18.1
15 One Born Every Minute CH4 4,869.7 17.9
16 Eastenders: Farewell Pat BBC 1 4,595.6 15.3
17 Strictly Kosher ITV1 4,557.2 18.0
18 The One Show: Best of Britain BBC 1 4,545.4 23.2
19 Titanic With Len Goodman BBC 1 4,482.3 20.2
20 Chatsworth BBC 1 4,470.9 17.0
21 Britain’s Biggest Hoarders BBC 1 4,410.1 15.8
22 The Great British Countryside BBC 1 4,372.0 17.8
23 Cornwall With Caroline Quentin ITV1 4,304.4 14.0
24 All The Queen’s Horses: A Diamond Jubile ITV1 4,262.7 18.5
25 Traffic Cops BBC 1 4,245.1 19.0
26 The Dales ITV1 4,152.5 15.5
27 The Unforgettable… ITV1 4,144.2 18.4
28 Nature’s Weirdest Events BBC 2 4,130.7 15.2
29 Celebrity Big Brother Channel 5 3,899.7 16.0
30 15 Kids and Counting CH4 3,859.2 14.2
31 Land of the Lost Wolves BBC 1 3,858.9 14.8
32 Embarrassing Bodies CH4 3,852.0 13.6
33 King George & Queen Mary: the Royals Who Rescued the Monarchy BBC 2 3,805.1 14.2
34 The Mighty Mississippi with Trevor Mcdon ITV1 3,788.0 13.5
35 Empire (BBC) BBC 1 3,724.5 13.6
36 Stargazing Live BBC 2 3,704.2 12.9
37 David Walliams’s Big Swim: Sport Relief BBC 1 3,666.8 13.1
38 The Hoarder Next Door CH4 3,659.8 13.9
39 Motorway Cops BBC 1 3,635.8 14.0
40 Smugglers ITV1 3,585.3 13.4
41 24 Hours in A&E CH4 3,561.4 13.9
42 Terror at Sea: the Sinking of the Concordia CH4 3,533.6 13.9
43 Turn Back Time: the Family BBC 1 3,497.6 13.7
44 Countrywise ITV1 3,412.4 14.6
45 Great Barrier Reef BBC 2 3,409.2 10.5
46 One Born: What Happened Next? CH4 3,403.4 12.9
47 The Biggest Loser ITV1 3,387.7 12.6
48 Bang Goes the Theory BBC 1 3,380.0 14.1
49 Bouncers CH4 3,354.3 17.4
50 Who Do You Think You Are? BBC 1 3,341.0 13.6
51 The Undateables CH4 3,251.6 12.1
52 Make Bradford British CH4 3,247.8 12.3
53 The Queen and I ITV1 3,235.9 14.2
54 Orbit: Earth’s Extraordinary Journey BBC 2 3,215.6 10.9
55 The Apprentice – You’re Fired! BBC 2 3,199.1 14.5
56 Kelly and Her Sisters Grow Up ITV1 3,163.7 15.1
57 Britain’s Lost Routes with Griff Rhys Jones BBC 1 3,162.5 15.9
58 The Walton Sextuplets: Moving On ITV1 3,154.5 13.2
59 Coppers CH4 3,050.4 10.5
60 River Monsters ITV1 3,017.3 12.7
61 Big Brother Channel 5 3,015.1 12.3
62 Poms in Paradise ITV1 2,999.2 12.1
63 How to Beat Pain BBC 1 2,992.6 14.8
64 True Stories: Gypsy Blood CH4 2,967.9 17.4
65 The 70s BBC 2 2,933.9 10.0
66 Alex Polizzi: The Fixer BBC 2 2,926.8 12.0
67 Supersize vs Superskinny CH4 2,915.3 12.1
68 Horizon BBC 2 2,902.2 10.4
69 Accused: the 74 Stone Babysitter CH4 2,891.6 10.8
70 Coast BBC 2 2,884.2 11.3
71 Toughest Place to Be a Train Driver BBC 2 2,864.0 9.8
72 Sinking of the Concordia: … On Camera CH4 2,833.5 10.5
73 Safari Vet School ITV1 2,817.9 11.9
74 The Talent Show Story ITV1 2,790.0 11.0
75 Polar Bear: Spy on the Ice BBC 1 2,749.5 14.8
76 Bodyshock: Turtle Boy CH4 2,694.3 12.6
77 Secrets of the Shoplifters CH4 2,693.6 13.7
78 Toughest Place to Be a Binman BBC 2 2,684.3 9.4
79 9/11: The Lost Tapes CH4 2,667.4 10.2
80 Stargazing Live: Back to Earth BBC 2 2,606.2 9.6
81 John le Mesurier – It’s All Been Rather Lovely BBC 2 2,603.1 9.8
82 Great British Railway Journeys BBC 2 2,579.3 12.0
83 Bear’s Wild Weekends CH4 2,560.4 8.4
84 The Hotel CH4 2,545.6 7.8
85 Elizabeth Taylor: Auction of a Lifetime CH4 2,535.7 9.6
86 Embarrassing Bodies: Live From the Clinic CH4 2,505.5 10.8
87 Great British Railway Journeys / Ireland BBC 2 2,465.9 11.4
88 Gok Wan: Made in China CH4 2,461.0 10.0
89 An Island Parish BBC 2 2,456.7 8.2
90 Grimefighters ITV1 2,455.9 10.9
91 Homes From Hell ITV1 2,437.4 9.8
92 Great Ormond Street BBC 2 2,423.9 9.5
93 A History of Ancient Britain BBC 2 2,384.4 8.1
94 Who Do You Think You Are? USA BBC 1 2,375.0 15.5
95 Indian Ocean with Simon Reeve BBC 2 2,373.6 8.6
96 I Love 1972 BBC 2 2,367.4 9.9
97 The Tallest Tower: Building the Shard CH4 2,341.6 8.6
98 The Natural World BBC 2 2,336.8 9.8
99 My Big Fat Fetish CH4 2,328.8 12.8
100 The World’s Largest Snake CH4 2,304.0 9.0

 

Takeaways

  • We say this every time we view the latest UK viewing data: “the list is wonderfully eclectic!”
  • The ratings are huge compared with U.S. audiences for comparable programs
    • There is a thriving UK appetite for quality docs of many genres and formats: observational, hosted, classic big Blue Chip, high end Lifestyle, Travel, and so on
  • It is wonderful to see Michael Apted’s 56 Up in the UK list.
  • The list still includes several big budget Science, Natural History, History and Archaeology series.
    • Many of these categories are close to extinct in the equivalent U.S. Top 100 lists
    • For example, # 12 Earthflight is a 5-part series narrated by actor David Tennant that captures natural wonders through the eyes of birds.
    • The series earned brilliant reviews, including for technical advances in wildlife kit.
  • “Live” is a minor new theme:
    • Planet Earth and Stargazing both went Live
    • But animals and clear skies aren’t guaranteed to perform on cue
  • After the Royal Wedding, this is another British year that’s marked by a big PR-packed royal event
    • Queen Elizabeth’s diamond jubilee earns a double in the Top 10.
    • And royal topics are sprinkled up and down the list.
    • Then there’s the Queen’s keen interest in horses reflected in All the Queen’s Horses  which cantered in at #24
  • Stately homes also starred:
    • Chatsworth follows a year in the life of a Devonshire home of Europe’s most significant art collections, passed down through 16 generations with the house, architecture and art collection evolving over 5 centuries.
    • There’s a Downton Abbey factual/scripted fusion going on here: Chatsworth captures the challenges faced by the Duke & Duchess of Devonshire and their staff
  • Hosted programs are strong performers, despite their often reported burial.
  • The list is very British:
    • The very big exception is #1 The Apprentice, a U.S. format.
  • Extreme human behavior is still popular:
    • Obsessions, eating disorders / illnesses and medical conditions are all fair game.
    • #21 Britain’s Biggest Hoarders tracks obsessive hoarding behavior.
  • There is plenty of nostalgia, as ever:
    • The royal stuff, countryside lifestyle magazines, pop culture anniversary specials (for Eastenders) and much more.
  • What’s returning and noteworthy?
    • ITV’tearjerker Long Lost Family looks like becoming a successful returning series.
    • Family members are reunited after long and often harrowing separations
  • Overall report card?
    • Amazing quality and variety!
    • There aren’t many new breakout programs that are apparent in the list.

Apologies to our UK readers if this is old hat.  The data is very refreshing to readers who are located in the 113 (!!) other countries where DocumentaryTelevision.com is now regular reading!

Editorial assistance:  Alexander Watson.

———-

This post in memory of my late, oldest brother John Hamilton, a super athlete who was the  high jump alternate on the Australian squad for Melbourne 1956.

———-

Next

  • Hobbies & Leisure: The Top 50, led by that evergreen franchise Antiques Roadshow
  • UK Cable/Satellite:
    • How do Discovery, Nat Geo and History  audiences compare with UK broadcasters?
    • What are the Top 10 programs for these channels, 2006-12?

—————–

WORKSHOP AT WESTDOC

What Do U.S. Networks Want?
How Can You Get It?
Sunday, September 9 

Come to my one-of-a-kind intensive workshop with charismatic reality TV series developer and executive producer, Stephen Harris.

The topics

  • What do US factual channels want?
  • For docs? And Reality?
  • How do programmers make decisions?
  • How much do they pay producers?
  • Who gets the work?
  • Why?
  • When?

Your Takeaways?

  • A grasp of how the nonfiction business works.
  • Really valuable data and contacts.
  • Constructive pitching guidance.
  • Assessments of your projects.
  • Knowledge of how to go forward!
  • All this, plus two gurus, and much, much more.

Registration

  • Click here to register
  • Workshop attendees earn a 10% Westdoc Conference and Workshop discount using the registration code: HAMILTON12

One comment

  1. A minor point, but probably worth making. The Apprentice may be an American format originally, but the UK version is very different from the US version. The US version seems very much in thrall to its sponsorship/product placement: brand names come thick and fast. This is not possible in the UK, and still less on the BBC, so brands are hardly mentioned. The US version also plays down the challenges as well, using them simply as a vehicle for the bitchiness between the contestants.

    The BBC still has its remit of “inform, educate and entertain”, more or less, and so the business tasks are actually played out fully, and genuine business conclusions drawn. Obviously the bitchiness also comes out, as does poor decision-making, and that’s the entertainment bit taken care of. Still, it’s become a different beast to the American Apprentice. And I haven’t even mentioned the difference between the Donald and Lord Sugar…

Comments are closed.