Docsville

Documentary Business

Peter Hamilton Consultants, Inc

Best of British Documentaries & Lifestyle, 1H 2023. The Top 100

It’s always a pleasure to share the UK’s highest-rated unscripted programs.

Here they are for 1H 2023.

  • #1-50 and #51-100 are covered in this post.
  • My brief Takeaways are below the #1-50 list.

Global Sparkplug

  • The UK viewing data is more important than ever this year because many producers and buyers want to build international copro’s and format licenses on the backs of successful concepts.
  • They are responding to tighter budgets and shrinking commissioning pipelines as channels react to the rise of streaming services, the challenging advertising environment, and funding cuts for public broadcasters.
  • The British factual sector has long been a sparkplug for creativity that inspires producers worldwide to study the UK data as they search for adaptations for their territory and coproduction opportunities.

The Data

The table captures viewing by Individuals 4+ over 7 days, and blends BARB’s Documentary, Hobbies / Lifestyle and Current Affairs listings. Share refers to the program’s share of television sets in use at that time. The data refers to highest single episode in a series.

UK Documentary & Hobbies
Top 50
Jan 1 – June 30, 2023

Programme TitleChannel‘000Share %
1CORONATIONBBC 112,038.159.2
2WILD ISLESBBC 17,391.739.4
3HARRY: THE INTERVIEWITV5,971.930.2
4ANTIQUES ROADSHOWBBC 14,640.823.9
5FOR THE LOVE OF PAUL O’GRADYITV3,949.922.5
6LONG LOST FAMILYITV3,510.721.3
7BRADLEY & BARNEY WALSH: BREAKING DADITV3,482.717.7
8WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?BBC 13,465.121.5
9THE REPAIR SHOPBBC 13,426.519.5
10CHARLES R: THE MAKING OF A MONARCHBBC 13,417.322.6
11THE MARTIN LEWIS MONEY SHOW LIVEITV3,373.621.8
12OUR CHANGING PLANETBBC 13,354.422.4
13KING CHARLES III: THE CORONATIONITV3,346.315.9
14SPY IN THE OCEANBBC 13,256.523.9
1524 HOURS IN POLICE CUSTODYChannel43,115.218.1
16LONG LOST FAMILY: BORN WITHOUT TRACEITV3,115.119.6
17THE GOLD: THE INSIDE STORYBBC 13,113.517.0
18AMANDA & ALAN’S ITALIAN JOBBBC 13,080.418.3
19ANTON & GIOVANNI’S ADVENTURES SICILYBBC 13,033.017.7
20TURKEY- SYRIA EARTHQUAKE APPEALBBC 13,002.022.5
21INTERIOR DESIGN W ALAN CARRBBC 12,897.617.0
22PAUL O’GRADY: FOR THE LOVE OF DOGSITV2,858.017.9
23AMBULANCEBBC 12,776.116.5
24RHS CHELSEA FLOWER SHOWBBC 12,771.326.6
25ELLIE SIMMONDS: FINDING MY SECRET FAMILYITV2,654.614.5
26MATT WILLIS: FIGHTING ADDICTIONBBC 12,607.915.6
27MORSE AND THE LAST ENDEAVOURITV2,563.723.2
28DNA JOURNEYITV2,517.015.4
29TROOPING THE COLOURBBC 12,442.241.4
30THE REAL STONEHOUSEITV2,405.610.8
31MANHUNT: THE RAOUL MOAT STORYITV2,400.513.0
32FROZEN PLANET IIBBC 12,395.213.0
33DIGGING FOR BRITAINBBC 22,326.411.0
34PAUL O’GRADY: LOVE OF DOGS ROYAL SPECIALITV2,229.823.7
35THE MAYFAIR HOTEL MEGABUILDBBC 22,221.211.4
36COLD CASE FORENSICS:ITV2,202.510.4
37THE WARSHIP: TOUR OF DUTYBBC 22,197.611.6
38WINTERWATCHBBC 22,194.012.8
39JOANNA LUMLEY’S SPICE TRAIL ADVENTUREITV2,192.412.6
40LONG LOST FAMILY: WHAT HAPPENED NEXTITV2,168.314.1
41SURGEONS: AT THE EDGE OF LIFEBBC 22,153.310.6
42MAKE IT AT MARKETBBC 12,146.018.8
43SPRINGWATCHBBC 22,117.014.0
44GARDENERS’ WORLDBBC 22,104.512.8
45FORENSICS: THE REAL CSIBBC 22,093.111.9
46KIRSTIE AND PHIL’S LOVE IT OR LIST ITChannel42,082.512.0
47LOVE YOUR GARDENITV2,058.915.4
48SING FOR THE KING: SEARCH FOR CHOIRBBC 12,045.513.6
49QUESTION TIMEBBC 12,019.025.9
50BARGAIN HUNTBBC 12,008.430.6

TAKEAWAYS

Royals

  • The Coronation drew a massive audience share (59%) and 12 million viewers.
  • Royal specials ranked high, including Harry: The Interview (#4), The Making of the Monarch (#10), ITV’s Coronation coverage (#13), Paul O’grady’s Love of Dogs Royal Special (#34) and the search for the Coronation Choir (#48).
  • Further down the list there’s Coronation Tailors: Fit For A King (#75) and Andrew: The Problem Prince (#85).

Blue Chip Natural History is Alive!

  • David Attenborough’s Wild Isles (#2) earned an outstanding audience of more than 7 million.
  • Also in the Top 20 were Our Changing Planet, Spy In The Ocean and Frozen Planet II.
  • On the lighter, animal-themed side, the late Paul O’grady’s Love of Dogs earned more than 2 million viewers.

Who are We?

  • The Top 50 is populated with formats that explore birth mysteries.
  • Long Lost Family (#6, #16) and Who Do You Think You Are? (#8) are in the Top 20.
  • Elie Simmonds: Finding My Lost Family is #25.

What’s Missing?

  • Where are the True Crime and Music Superstar docs that dominate recent orders by streamers?
  • The Gold: The Inside Story (#17) does win the medal for Crime. The Real Stonehouse (#30) follows.
  • Making the Top 100 are the Bay City Rollers and George Michael (#56, #57).
  • Maybe the broadcasters can no longer afford the mega-million price tag for access to pop star legends like Elton John?
  • Read my latest post on the streamers’ Music originals.

Where’s the War?

  • As Britain treads ever deeper into Nato’s faltering war against a similarly nuclear-armed opponent, I see only one program that touches on military preparedness (The Warship: Tour of Duty, #37).
  • Putin Vs The West (#59) does address the strategic conflict.
  • Missing from the most-viewed list are the many documentaries told from the Ukrainian point of view that have been recent finalists, award-winners and case studies at major documentary festivals and markets.

Enviable Formats

  • Who Do You Think You Are? and Antiques Roadshow (#4) are joined by Repair Shop (#9) in the category of dominating, long-lasting formats.

Where are the Streamers?

  • Netflix, Amazon Prime and their competitors are private subscription services.
  • They don’t readily share viewing data, and they’re not included in this list.

Broadcast Viewing Dominates

  • BARB research does reveal that UK broadcasters earn more than 4x the minutes viewed per day versus the streamers.


UK Documentary & Hobbies
Top 51-100
Jan 1 – June 30, 2023

Programme TitleChannel‘000Share %
51TONIGHTITV1,967.916.0
52INSIDE OUR AUTISTIC MINDSBBC 21,959.111.3
53LOVE YOUR GARDEN THEMED SPECIALSITV1,955.811.9
54DIY SOSBBC 11,950.112.0
55COLD CASE DETECTIVESITV1,898.69.8
56SECRETS OF THE BAY CITY ROLLERSITV1,876.011.5
57GEORGE MICHAEL: OUTEDChannel41,859.19.2
58PANORAMABBC 11,858.512.6
59PUTIN VS THE WESTBBC 21,856.68.9
60INSIDE THE FACTORYBBC 21,848.511.9
6124 HOURS IN A&EChannel41,813.210.0
62POLICE: SUSPECT NO. 1Channel51,808.49.7
63AIR FRYERS: ARE THEY WORTH IT?Channel41,801.612.5
64A YEAR ON PLANET EARTHITV1,752.312.1
65POLICE: NIGHT SHIFT 999Channel51,752.211.1
66GARDEN RESCUEBBC 11,745.314.0
67PAUL O’GRADY’S LITTLE HEROESITV1,738.812.7
68THE STORY OF…Channel51,736.811.3
69LOVE IT OR LIST IT: BRILLIANT BUILDSChannel41,733.710.8
70BEN FOGLE: NEW LIVES IN THE WILDChannel51,730.78.6
71JAMIE’S £1 WONDERSChannel41,721.99.6
72ROBSON GREEN’S WEEKEND ESCAPESBBC 21,721.611.7
7322 KIDS & COUNTINGChannel51,720.67.4
74THE DOG HOUSEChannel41,714.69.4
75CORONATION TAILORS: FIT FOR A KINGBBC 21,704.58.5
76CLIVE MYRIE’S ITALIAN ROAD TRIPBBC 21,703.113.5
77KNOW YOUR S**T: INSIDE OUR GUTSChannel41,678.79.8
78SCAM INTERCEPTORSBBC 11,666.016.6
79THE YORKSHIRE VETChannel51,663.411.1
802022: THE YEAR FROM SPACEChannel41,657.78.7
81VANISHED: WHERE IS NICOLA BULLEY?Channel51,649.19.1
82POLICE: SUSPECT NO.1Channel51,639.28.9
83POLICE INTERCEPTORSChannel51,637.410.7
84SIMON REEVE’S RETURN TO CORNWALLBBC 21,613.89.2
85ANDREW: THE PROBLEM PRINCEChannel41,613.27.7
86LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATIONChannel41,611.310.4
87PAULAChannel41,606.98.4
88THE GRAND CANYON WITH NICK KNOWLESChannel51,605.78.2
89STEELTOWN MURDERS: SERIAL KILLERBBC 11,588.19.3
90TRAFFIC COPSChannel51,579.89.0
91ANTIQUES ROAD TRIPBBC 11,573.523.9
92GIRL IN BOX: KIDNAP OF STEPHANIE SLATERChannel51,563.59.4
93GUY MARTIN’S GREAT BRITISH POWER TRIPChannel41,563.27.2
94LUCY WORSLEY INVESTIGATESBBC 21,550.99.9
95MIRIAM MARGOLYES: AUSTRALIA UNMASKEDBBC 21,547.57.8
96RIP OFF BRITAINBBC 11,534.033.5
97YOUR HOME MADE PERFECTBBC 21,526.310.3
98BLUE PLANET IIBBC 21,519.59.4
99BRONSON: FIT TO BE FREE?Channel41,511.47.3
100VICKY MCCLURE: MY GRANDAD’S WARITV1,508.68.7

Eleven U.S. Channels: What are they Buying?

“Linear still matters!” is also the theme of my Pact webinars with Dan Salerno on the U.S. channels’ programming strategies: