OTT’s chart of the decade

Sunday, January 18, 2009 by

It’s time to update our list of the most-watched telly since 2000.

As usual, the prediction I made 12 months ago for the year turned out to be almost completely wrong: “Given there are no home nations in Euro 2008, I doubt there’ll be any sport events that make the grade. The soaps might scrape in, but Doctor Who certainly won’t. A one-off sitcom ‘event’ might do the trick, though.”

Well, I was right about sport. Here’s the list, with the 2008 entries in bold:

1) Only Fools and Horses (25 December 2001) – 21.4m
2) Euro 2004: Portugal v England (BBC1, 24 June 2004) – 20.7m
3) EastEnders (5 April 2001) – 20.1m
4) Coronation Street (24 February 2003) – 19.4m
5) Coronation Street (3 January 2000) – 19.0m
6) Euro 2004: France v England (ITV1, 21 June 2004) – 17.8m
7) EastEnders (29 September 2003) – 16.7m
8) EastEnders (5 March 2001) – 16.6m
9) Only Fools and Horses (25 December 2002) – 16.3m
9) EastEnders (2 January 2001) – 16.3m
9) Coronation Street (16 February 2004) – 16.3m
12) Coronation Street (1 January 2001) – 16.2m
13) Coronation Street (3 January 2001) – 16.1m
13) Who Wants to be a Millionaire?: Tonight Special (21 April 2003) – 16.1m
13) Wallace and Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death (25 December 2008) – 16.1m
16) EastEnders (25 December 2002) – 16m
17) Who Wants to be a Millionaire? (19 January 2000) – 15.8m
18) Coronation Street (13 January 2003) – 15.6m
19) Only Fools and Horses (25 December 2003) – 15.5m
20) Coronation Street (11 March 2001) – 15.5m
21) Michael Jackson Tonight Special (3 February 2003) – 15.3m
22) Heartbeat (6 February 2000) – 15.2m
22) EastEnders (28 December 2000) – 15.2m
24) I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! (9 February 2004) – 15m
25) Euro 2000 Portugal v England (ITV1, 12 June 2000) – 14.9m
26) Coronation Street (5 January 2001) – 14.8m
26) EastEnders (5 January 2004) – 14.8m
28) A Touch of Frost (14 January 2001) – 14.7m
29) Euro 2000 England v Romania (BBC1, 20 June 2000) – 14.6m
30) World Cup 2006: Sweden v England (ITV1, 20 June 2006) – 14.4m
31) Coronation Street (21 February 2005) – 14.4m
31) EastEnders (25 December 2007) – 14.4m
33) EastEnders (18 February 2005) – 14.3m
34) World Cup Match of the Day Live (BBC1, 25 June 2006) – 14.25m
35) The X Factor: Results (13 December 2008) – 14.06m
36) Who Wants to be a Millionaire? (1 May 2000) – 13.9m
36) Britain’s Got Talent Final: Result (31 May 2008) – 13.9m
38) Heartbeat (21 January 2001) – 13.8m
39) Inspector Morse (15 November 2000) – 13.6m
40) Emmerdale (22 March 2000) – 13.3m
41) Pop Idol (9 February 2002) – 13.3m
41) Doctor Who (25 December 2007) – 13.3m
43) Rugby World Cup Final (20 October 2007, ITV1) – 13.1m
43) Coronation Street (15 January 2007) – 13.1m
43) The Vicar of Dibley (1 January 2007) – 13.1m
43) Doctor Who (25 December 2008) – 13.1m
47) A Touch of Frost (22 February 2004) – 13m
47) Coronation Street (18 January 2008) – 13m
49) Strictly Come Dancing (20 December 2008) – 12.9m

50) One Foot in the Grave (20 November 2000) – 12.8m
50) Heartbeat (12 January 2003) – 12.8m

An impressive six new entries: one more than last year.

Think what you like about Russell T Davies, but he certainly knows how to hype up his Christmas Doctor Who episodes. An appearance by David Morrissey attracted just 200,000 fewer viewers than an appearance by Kylie Minogue. Maybe the earlier time slot and the absence of anything good on the other channels helped.

As for Wallace and Gromit, that’s the first time any British television programme has got more than 16m viewers since 24 June 2004 – a gap of almost exactly four and a half years.

If anyone knows what happened during that Coronation Street episode, speak up. Otherwise it’s all about talent shows, back in the chart for the first time since 2002.

The new chart means both 2000 and 2001 still hold joint first place for the most number of programmes (10 apiece) followed by 2003 (7), then 2004 tied with 2008 (6 – one in the eye for all the doom merchants who think nation-gripping telly is dead), 2007 (5), 2002 (3) and finally 2005 and 2006 (two each).

For the record, the ones that got knocked off the chart this year were the final of I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! from 2003, a screening of Billy Elliot in 2003, the 2004 Christmas Day episode of The Vicar of Dibley, Jubilee 2002: Party at the Palace, and the 2002 World Cup match between England and Brazil.

Predictions for 2009, and hence for the final *final* chart of the decade? Doctor Who will be in there, probably when David Tennant regenerates (assuming he does it before 1st January 2010). A soap might be there. If Andy Murray gets to the Wimbledon final, that might squeeze in. Otherwise: talent shows. Especially if Brucie decides to quit Strictly Come Dancing.

Lastly, here’s the full top 20 for 2008.

1) Wallace and Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death (25/12/08, BBC1) 16.15m
2) The X Factor: Results (13/12/08, ITV1) 14.06m
3) Britain’s Got Talent Final: Results (31/05/08, ITV1) 13.88m
4) Doctor Who (25/12/08, BBC1) 13.10m
5) Coronation Street (18/01/08, ITV1) 13.02m
6) Strictly Come Dancing (20/12/08, BBC1) 12.97m
7) Dancing On Ice (16/03/08, ITV1) 12.08m
8) EastEnders (24/03/08, BBC1) 11.73m
9) The Royle Family (25/12/08, BBC1) 10.60m
10) I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! (29/11/08, ITV1) 10.19m
11) Antiques Roadshow (16/11/08, BBC1) 10.11m
12) Champions League Final (21/05/08, ITV1) 10.05m
13) Children In Need 2008 (14/11/08, BBC1) 9.83m
14) New Tricks (18/08/08, BBC1) 9.36m
15) BBC News (25/12/08, BBC1) 9.34m
16) The Apprentice (11/06/08, BBC1) 9.29m
17) Match Of The Day Live: England v Switzerland (06/02/08, BBC1) 9.18m
18) Brazilian Grand Prix (02/11/08, ITV1) 9.08m
19) Lewis (24/02/08, ITV1) 8.90m
20) Emmerdale (02/01/08, ITV1) 8.85m


11 Responses to “OTT’s chart of the decade”

  1. Billy Hicks on January 18th, 2009 11:31 pm

    The Coronation Street episode was the death of the long-standing Vera Duckworth.

    Remarkable figure for Wallace and Gromit, I wonder what’s causing people to start watching TV again? Will still be hard to get back to the days of 20 million though, save for something like England getting into a football final.

  2. Gervase Fen on January 19th, 2009 2:07 am

    That’s the death of Vera Duckworth in at no. 47.

  3. Paul on January 19th, 2009 10:33 am

    The Corrie episode was Vera Duckworth’s on-screen death.

  4. Rob Williams on January 19th, 2009 12:47 pm

    Good to see that the most watched programme of last year was Wallace and Gromit, says something that people want humour over the bleakness of the soaps at Christmas. Roll on 2009 to continue the great telly…

  5. Andy Elms on January 19th, 2009 1:01 pm

    A quick google reveals the Antiques Roadshow at No. 11 was the “£1million find” but I’m probably missing something when I say I can’t remember anything significant about the episode of New Tricks at 14….

  6. Mark Bing on January 19th, 2009 1:53 pm

    Coronation Street on the 18th January 2008 was Vera Duckworth’s sudden death:

  7. Steve Williams on January 19th, 2009 2:04 pm

    Oh, Corrie was Vera dying, fact fans.

  8. Jason Carter on January 19th, 2009 10:32 pm

    I quite like the way that Lewis is pipped by the Brazilian GP that saw – er – Lewis Hamilton take the title.

  9. Glenn Aylett on January 20th, 2009 9:21 pm

    Interesting to see Heartbeat as a ratings success earlier in the decade as these days it’s seen as a programme that attracts a similar audience to Last of the Summer Wine( usually over 65s) and ratings are on the floor, but at its peak it was nearly as popular as the two big soaps. I would love it if you could get a list from the eighties and compare how tastes and ratings have changed over the last 20 years. Bet there would be far more sitcoms in there as well as sitcoms have dramatically fallen in production since the 80s.

  10. Jonathan Haw on January 23rd, 2009 11:10 am

    I think the TV bosses of the 80s would be horrified to think that the 20th most popular programme of the year would attract only 8.85m! 20 years ago, a bog standard edition of Blind Date would frequently have rated better than Wallace & Gromit on Christmas Day.

    It’s amazing just how much audiences have fragmented, especially given that, of the hundreds of other channels now available, virtually none are showing anything of any quality or note. It’s just the sheer number of “choices” that are cluttering up the airwaves that’s causing the audience to fragment. The bulk of it is just repeats, imports, or repeats of imports (not that there’s necessarily anything wrong with repeats, but it it’s stopping new stuff getting made….).
    Will there come a time when no single channel has enough viewers to be able to justify producing original drama?

  11. Glenn Aylett on February 21st, 2009 6:51 pm

    Call me old fashioned but I actually miss the old three channel world where viewing was a collective experience and everyone seemed to watch the most popular shows. Nowadays I have 20 channels and they are just dominated by the same tired repeats- how many times can E4 repeat the same Friends episodes, reality garbage such as Paris Hilton’s Best British Friend and soap ominbuses. Because there is so much television 24/7, there is less money to go round so digital channels survive on the cheapest programming available: repeats and cheaply made reality, which if it flops, doesn’t matter as few people really care enough.