Another year draws to a close, one in which we may have (almost) seen the back of the Covid-19 pandemic, a UK Prime Minister managed to stay in office for more than five minutes and audiences were dazzled by an array of TV shows and performances including a once-in-a-generation week that saw a royal Coronation and Eurovision. This was part of the reason the BBC comfortably overcame ITV in the ratings rankings this year, returning eight of the top 10 shows. Below, we unveil the most-watched UK TV programs of the year (excluding sport) according to 7-day-post-launch Barb data from our friends at overnights.tv. Plus, while 12-months-ranking data isn’t available for streaming services, we have a recap of the UK shows that performed best on Netflix per the SVoD’s recent data dump. Read on.

The Coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla – 18.8M (BBC/ITV etc)

King Charles III and Queen Camilla

These royal events don’t come around very often by half so to have missed out on the top spot would frankly have been a shock. Following the death of his mother Queen Elizabeth II in September of last year, Prince Charles, best known around the world for his tabloid-friendly love life across several decades, immediately became King, but this of course needed to be made official with a bit of British pomp. Eight months later and the world was ready, with the BBC providing the feed watched on BBC One, BBC Two, ITV, BBC News and a number of other channels. While the figure didn’t match that of Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral – placed by some metrics as the most-watched UK TV broadcast of all time – the May 6 event was comfortably the most-watched of 2023, viewed by millions more around the world and paired with a Coronation Concert the following day featuring the likes of Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Take That (all Charles’s faves). According to the overnights.tv figures, viewers were most enticed to watch while the actual ceremony was taking place, with the new King sat on throne, anointed with holy oil and receiving coronation regalia. It was all rather British. Queen Camilla was also crowned in a shorter and simpler ceremony, as the UK readied itself for yet another new era. Hooray. The ceremony came just a few months before the world was treated to the final season of The Crown, which has just dropped in its entirety, as audiences are able to view Dominic West’s latest turn as the somewhat curmudgeonly now-King. Next year is likely to be the first in a little while without one of these grand ceremonies playing on British TV and the nation might just be a little worse for it.

‘Happy Valley’ – 10.6M (BBC)

Happy Valley

For the TV drama event of the year, look no further than the closer of Sally Wainwright’s epic Happy Valley, which topped Eurovision to make it to second on this year’s coveted list. Following a seven-year hiatus, Wainwright simply could not resist bringing her West Yorkshire saga following Sarah Lancashire’s Catherine Cawood and James Norton’s Tommy Lee Royce to an epic conclusion. And from the off, viewers tuned in in droves. Co-produced with AMC+, Happy Valley Season 3 offered up its usual fare of grimness, weaving in several fresh side-storylines to keep fans in the mood. But it was of course the eventual Cawood-Royce showdown that we all tuned in to see. Cue an almighty row over a cuppa in the kitchen, a vicious fire and Catherine calling Tommy a “nasty little toddler brain in a big man’s body.” Top stuff. Sunday nights on the BBC will be worse without regular trips to Hebden Bridge and Happy Valley has undoubtedly been one of the pubcaster’s biggest shows of this generation, defying audience fragmentation to guarantee its place as the leading purveyor of the watercooler moment. Happy Valley is over but the legacy lives on.

Eurovision – 10.1M (BBC)

You wait decades for a Coronation and Eurovision to return to the UK and then the two happen in the same week. This must have been the thought racing through the minds of those at the BBC responsible for helming these once-in-a-generation events that somehow conspired to take place within seven days of each other – amounting to the biggest week of live shows on the national broadcaster since 2012, the BBC’s Head of Unscripted told us in early May. Added pressure existed with the reality that the UK didn’t actually win Eurovision in 2022 but was stepping in to help war-ravaged Ukraine. In the event, the contest in Liverpool went down a storm (although the less said about the UK’s 25th-placed finish the better), with excitement reaching a positive crescendo as organizers faced up to the challenge of balancing the need to celebrate Ukrainian culture with that of the country the contest was being held in. This showed through in the ratings. Won by Sweden and helmed by big names including Ted Lasso star Hannah Waddingham, the grand final was the most-watched ever, according to the BBC, and was well up on previous years’ figures for a contest that has at times felt in need of something of a reinvention. This was, after all, the 67th Eurovision, and to see audiences cross the 10 million mark in today’s age of cannibalized viewing was a joy. Here’s to next year’s contest. For the avoidance of doubt, it will definitely not be held in the UK.

‘I’m a Celebrity .. Get Me Out of Here!’ – 9.7M (ITV)

Nigel Farage

Despite a trigger-happy GB News producer misfiring in his attempt to state that this year’s opener of ITV’s I’m a Celeb had “BOMBSHELL RATINGS,” the show nevertheless continued its streak on this list and the opener was the most-watched ep at just under 10M. Across most episodes, viewing has been down this year, and ITV execs may be scratching their heads as to why, but that didn’t dampen I’m a Celeb’s ability to entertain and it remains a cornerstone of the winter schedule, continuing to challenge Strictly Come Dancing‘s dominance on the opposite channel. Taking up the Matt Hancock mantle this year was controversial UKIP founder Nigel Farage, who rather blatantly appeared to be using appearances in front of millions of viewers up and down the country each night as a precursor to plans to return to frontline politics with a general election on the horizon. For several reasons, the ‘Farage effect’ didn’t quite hit the heights of the ‘Hancock effect’ and the series wasn’t helped by the loss of Britney Spears’ sister Jamie Lynn early on. But having digested his fair share of camel anus, Farage, just like Hancock, finished third in the end of an enjoyable contest, bested by boxer Tony Bellew and loveable Made in Chelsea rogue Sam Thompson. No panic stations yet at ITV despite the ratings slip (last year’s finale drew just shy of 12M), but it will be interesting to see whether there are any changes to the format for the 2024 edition, and fans will eagerly await which under-fire politician slips into the jungle this time.

‘Strictly Come Dancing’ – 9.6M (BBC)

Strictly enters its 20th year next year in rude health. Few entertainment formats live up to the BBC juggernaut’s longevity, generating watercooler moments aplenty and somehow keeping those elusive younger viewers entertained. Seasons of Strictly tend to differ somewhat in the amount of buzz they generate beyond the addicted viewer and this year’s probably sat somewhere in the middle of said buzz spectrum. Former Coronation Street actress Ellie Leach took home the crown in a finale that saw the youngest trio of finalists ever compete, as she beat EastEnders’ Bobby Brazier – the son of the late Jade Goody – and Bad Education‘s Layton Williams to the crown. Each finalist was as lovable as the last, guaranteeing Strictly’s continued position in the country’s entertainment rankings as the place for that dash of family-friendly warmth in the run-up to Christmas. This year’s edition may have had to brush off a small dash of controversy surrounding Amanda Abbington’s exit but, as ever, it kept itself firmly in the ratings mix. It ain’t going anywhere.

Best of the rest

  1. Death in Paradise – 7.7M (BBC): TV’s warmest detective show is always there and thereabouts and season 11 of the Carib crime caper was no exception.
  2. The Great British Bake Off– 7.6M (Channel 4): Channel 4’s only entrant in the top 10 saw a decent return for its biggest hit, following what was a tricky 2022.
  3. Planet Earth – 7.41M (BBC): Viewers couldn’t get enough of the third in this series of David Attenborough epics and we defy your eyes not to well up after great white sharks attack a group of adorable baby seals.
  4. Wild Isles – 7.4M (BBC): The second of the nature docs to hit the top 10 this year, an impressive return for a show focusing solely on wildlife in Britain, which came so close to beating Planet Earth.
  5. Beyond Paradise – 7.37M (BBC One): Not content with one Paradise appearing on this list, the 2023 spin-off defied expectations to make the top 10.

Netflix hits

'Luther: The Fallen Sun'

Per Netflix’s December data dump, Deadline crunched the figures on the most-watched UK shows on the streamer in the first half of 2023. Here’s a reminder of the top 5:

Luther: The Fallen Sun – 209M hours viewed: Perhaps something of a surprise given its lukewarm reception with critics but the Idris Elba-starring action movie comfortably took the top spot, almost doubling Black Mirror.

Black Mirror Season 6 – 139M: Charlie Brooker’s anthology series returned with aplomb with stories focusing on AI, true crime documentaries and loneliness.

MH370: The Plane that Disappeared – 118M: High-end docuseries on the terrifying story of the disappearance of the Malaysian airlines flight 10 years ago came in third.

Lockwood & Co – 113M: Fans of Joe Cornish’s YA ghost series who were not impressed with its swift cancelation now have evidence to back up their frustrations.

Formula 1: Drive to Survive Season 5 – 90M: One of the more surprising Netflix hits of past years accelerated comfortably into the top five.

Also Read More: World News | Entertainment News | Celeb News
Source: DLine

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