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:
|1||The Apprentice||BBC 1||8,054.1||29.8|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|50||Who Do You Think You Are?||BBC 1||3,341.0||13.6|
|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|
|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|
|69||Accused: the 74 Stone Babysitter||CH4||2,891.6||10.8|
|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|
|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|
|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|
- 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.
- I first saw 7 Up during a teachers’ conference at Lorne on Victoria’s Great Ocean Road, and I can remember the experience of discovering a masterpiece as if it were yesterday.
- “Why Can’t Americans Watch British Shows as Soon as They Air” examines the “infuriating, anachronistic logic that keeps series like 56 Up sequestered in the UK.”
- 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’s 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.
- 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?
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