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UK History Programs: Top 25 in the Year of COVID (1st Half 2020)

Here is a breakout of the Top 25-rated UK History programs in 1H 2020.

  • Read my interview notes with BBC History buyer Simon Young at Sunny Side, including his insights concerning A House Through Time
  • And see my post capturing the Top 100 UK Factual in the COVID Era.

Still from Channel 4’s VE Day in Colour

UK Broadcast Audience
History Category
Top 25, 1H

1BBC 2A House Through Time3,81617.5
2ITVCaptain Tom’s War2,87614.4
3BBC 2Back in Time for the Corner Shop2,60012.7
4C5Princess Anne: The Daughter…2,16312.0
5BBC 2Villages by the Sea2,08510.7
6ITVOur Queen at War2,0789.2
7BBC 2Keeler, Profumo, Ward and Me2,02213.7
8ITVReturn to Belsen
9BBC 2Belsen: Our Story1,7096.6
10BBC 2Little Ships – The Miracle of Dunkirk1,6289.7
11C4 VE Day in Colour: Britain’s Biggest Party1,4576.4
12C5Portillo’s Empire Journey1,4505.5
13C4 Secrets of Egypt’s Valley of the Kings1,3965.4
14C4 Lost Pyramids of the Aztecs1,3877.1
15C5The Yorkshire Steam Railway: All Aboard1,3606.1
16C5King George VI: The Accidental King1,3507.5
17C5Tony Robinson’s History of Britain1,3486.8
18BBC 2Timewatch1,3478.2
19C5VE Day: The Lost Films1,3446.2
20C5Queen Mary: How She Saved the Royals1,3277.9
21C5Princess Margaret: Rebel Without a Crown1,3028
22C5The Royals: A Family in Crisis1,2986.9
23C5Royals in Wartime1,2955.9
24BBC 2Dig WW2 with Dan Snow1,2956.9
25C5Royals on Tour1,2795

Notes on the Data

  • The ‘000 P4+’ column refers to viewers 4 years and older in thousands.
  • 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.
  • The categories come from BARB, and titles are sometimes incomplete.

Comfort Food

  • A friend sent this comment on Food trends during COVID and pointed to its relevance to television entertainment.

Tasting on Familiar Foods: During the outbreak, many consumers are seeking comfort and familiarity in the pantry. Thirty-seven per cent of UK consumers are revisiting dishes from their childhood in lockdown (Co-op, 2020). Traditional quick-fix packet desserts have also seen an uptick – including a 336% increase in custard powder sales (Co-op, 2020). 

  • On the other hand, the combined audience for the BBC and ITV programs on the Belsen concentration camp does capture the UK viewer’s interest in the toughest of subjects.
  • And the “Land & Country” theme that I described in my Top 100 Takeaways is picked up here with multiple stories that showcase British heroism.
  • The Royals are not making waves in the Top 100, but they are subjects of eight of the Top 25 in the History list.

More is the sponsor of our continuing coverage of archive-based programs, including Case Studies.