Only Fools... is the most-watched TV show ever | Comedies dominate chart

Only Fools... is the most-watched TV show ever

Comedies dominate chart

An episode of Only Fools And Horses is the single most-watched programme in the history of British TV.

The instalment that aired on December 29, 1996 attracted a record 24.35 million viewers, according to new research by the Press Association.

Seven out of the top ten programmes, compiled to mark 80 years of British TV broadcasting, are comedy shows, showing the importance of the genre,

Traditionally the 1986 Christmas edition of EastEnders is often considered the most-watched programme ever. However, its 30.15million viewers were accumulated over two screenings.

The Press Association list counts only single episodes – and excludes events such as football matches or royal events.

More than 24million people watched the chart-topping episode of Only Fools and Horses, the last of a festive trilogy and at the time was thought to be the last ever episode. It showed Del Boy and Rodney Trotter becoming millionaires, after a watch that had been gathering dust in their garage is revealed to be worth £6.2million.

The other two episodes of that run come in at No 11 and No 12 on the chart; while the Christmas Day 2001 episode also makes the top 20. That is the most recent show on the whole chart, with nothing from the last 15 years. The oldest programme was the Royal Variety in 1963, which featured a performance by The Beatles.

A 1979 episode of To The Manor Born is No 2 on the chart; with another episode at No 7. The 1977 Christmas Day edition of the Morecambe And Wise Christmas Show, often cited as a big ratings-winner, came it at No 13, with 21.3million. It was not even the most-watched show that day, with Mike Yarwood scraping ahead with an extra 100,000 viewers.

The full chart is:

1. Only Fools And Horses (BBC One, 29th December 1996): 24.35 million
2. To The Manor Born (BBC One, 11th November 1979): 23.95 million
3. The Royal Variety Performance (ITV, 19th November 1967): 22.80 million
4. Panorama (BBC One, 20th November 1995): 22.77 million
5. The Royal Variety Performance (ITV, 14th November 1965): 21.70 million
6. Dallas (BBC One, 22nd November 1980): 21.60 million
7. To The Manor Born (BBC One, 9th November 1980): 21.55 million
8= The Mike Yarwood Christmas Show (BBC One, 25th December 1977): 21.40 million
8= Coronation Street (ITV, 2nd January 1985): 21.40 million
10. Only Fools And Horses (BBC One, 25th December 2001): 21.35 million
11. Only Fools And Horses (BBC One, 27th December 1996): 21.33 million
12. Only Fools And Horses (BBC One, 25th December 1996): 21.31 million
13. The Morecambe And Wise Christmas Show (BBC One, 25th December 1977): 21.30 million
14= The Royal Variety Performance (ITV, 10th November 1963): 21.20 million
14= The Silver Jubilee Royal Variety Gala (ITV, 4th December 1977): 21.20 million
16. Bread (BBC One, 11th December 1988): 20.95 million
17. The Benny Hill Show (ITV, 14th March 1979): 20.85 million
18. Coronation Street (ITV, 18th December 1980): 20.80 million
19. Just Good Friends (BBC One, 21st December 1986): 20.75 million
20. Sale Of The Century (ITV, 19th November 1977) 20.60 million
20= Coronation Street (ITV, 9th January 1985): 20.60 million
20= Coronation Street (ITV, 16th January 1985): 20.60 million

Published: 31 Oct 2016

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