Documentary Business

Peter Hamilton Consultants, Inc

UK’s Fantastic 50 Documentaries, 2016. Plus 25 Lifestyle Hits. The Brexit Predictors. And More!

What happened with UK punters in 2016?

  • It was the year when Britain charged headlong out of the ‘hood and into a free trade agreement with nifty New Zealand.
  • Factual TV audiences didn’t behave as oddly as UK voters.
  • But 2016’s hits revealed lots of homely ‘Brexit-predictors.’

Olde Englande:


  • We broke out two unscripted categories:
    • Documentaries (Top 50).
    • Lifestyle/Hobbies (Top 25).
  • Like Nielsen’s, the BARB categories and sub-genres are full of anomalies.
  • But they help paint a useful landscape of enduring quality programming that is unmatched by any other territory.
  • (BARB’s Current Affairs category also includes strong Factual programs.)



Here is the Top 50, Documentaries UK for 2016 (in thousands).

 ProgramSub Genre‘000
1BBC 1Planet Earth 2Natural History13,143
2BBC 1CountryfileNatural History8,763
3ITVAnt + Dec met the PrinceCelebrity7,687
4BBC 1Elizabeth at 90Human Interest7,463
5ITVOur Queen at 90Celebrity7,065
6ITVThe Queen’s 90th celebrationCelebrity6,678
7CH4GoggleboxHuman Interest5,774
8BBC 1Who do you think you are?Human Interest5,450
9ITVKiller women + piers morganHuman Interest5,285
10ITVTribute to Vict. WoodCelebrity5,176
11ITVLong lost familyHuman Interest5,166
12ITVThe cruiseFly on the Wall5,080
13ITVPaul O’grady: love of dogsFly on the Wall4,980
14BBC 1The chronicles of nadiyaHuman Interest4,864
15ITVWhen phillip met prince philipCelebrity4,847
16BBC 1AmbulanceHuman Interest4,808
17BBC 1How to stay youngHuman Interest4,629
18BBC 1David bowie: sound and visionCelebrity4,473
19BBC 1PompeiiHistory4,473
20ITVBritain’s favourite dogsNatural History4,433
21BBC 1Sir terry wogan rememberedCelebrity4,351
22ITVBritain’s busiest airportFly on the Wall4,351
23BBC 1The great british bake offFact Ent4,279
24BBC 1Strictly len goodmanCelebrity4,260
25BBC 2The real marigold hotelFact Ent4,228
26BBC 2The real marigold: japanFact Ent4,178
27BBC 1Life in the snowNatural History4,163
28ITVJoanna lumley’s japanCelebrity4,115
29BBC 1Peter kay: 20 years of funnyCelebrity4,053
30ITVThe forceHuman Interest4,030
31ITVDavina mccall: life… extremeNatural History3,978
32ITVPaul o’grady’s love of dogsFly on the Wall3,969
33BBC 1Forces of nature with brian coxNatural History3,944
34ITVBest walks with a viewNatural History3,897
35BBC 2The real marigold: floridaFact Ent3,845
36CH4Speed with guy martin: f1Science/Medical3,763
37ITVSugar free farmHuman Interest3,739
38BBC 1Traffic copsCrime/Real Life3,729
39BBC 2Louis theroux: savileHuman Interest3,717
40ITVBilly connolly’s americaCelebrity3,709
41BBC 1Koko: the gorillaNatural History3,701
42BBC 1The doctor who gave up drugsScience/Medical3,663
43BBC 1Nature’s miracle orphansNatural History3,658
44BBC 1Great Barrier Reef / AttenboroughNatural History3,653
45BBC 1Six wives with lucy worsleyHistory3,634
46CH4The island with bear gryllsFact Ent3,604
47BBC 1The vikings uncoveredHistory3,511
48CH4Guy martin’s wall of death: liveMiscellaneous3,501
49BBC 1Saving lives at seaHuman Interest3,466
50BBC 1The truth about dementiaHuman Interest3,460

Hobbies / Lifestyle

And the Top 25, Hobbies / Lifestyle UK for 2016 (in thousands).

 ProgramSub- Genre‘000
1BBC 1The Great British Bake OffCookery15,899
2BBC 2Top GearAuto6,421
3BBC 1Antiques RoadshowGeneral6,116
4BBC 1MasterchefCookery5,913
5BBC 1Celebrity masterchefCookery5,689
6BBC 1Eat well for less?Cookery5,248
7BBC 1Fake or fortune?General4,757
8BBC 1Diy sos: the big buildHome4,736
9BBC 2Bake off creme de la cremeCookery4,427
10BBC 1The rhs chelsea flower showGardening3,742
11ITVLove your gardenGardening3,696
12BBC 2Masterchef: the professionalsCookery3,658
13ITVCaught on cameraGeneral3,406
14BBC 2The great british sewing beeGeneral3,382
15BBC 2Mary berry’s foolproof cookingCookery3,328
16BBC 2Mary berry’s easter feastCookery2,994
17BBC 2Victorian bakersCookery2,944
18CH4Location, location, locationHome2,886
19BBC 2SpringwatchGardening2,797
20ITVGino’s italian escapeCookery2,765
21CH4Grand designsDIY2,716
22BBC 1Antiques road tripGeneral2,712
23ITVGino’s italian escapeCookery2,690
24BBC 1Flog it!General2,679
25BBC 1Lose weight for loveHome2,621

Speaking Engagement:

AIDC 2017
Melbourne, March 5-8

Instant Documentary: So you think you know Live Video?

  • LIVE! video is immediate, unscripted, and it loudly rings the bell for “authentic”.
  • Broadcasters and Cab/Sat channels are green-lighting live prime time ‘events’ as well as series. And they’re commissioning hybrid forms of live content for their social media platforms. Their targets are the young viewers who are drifting away from the channels. Dominating the conversation is social media, where viewing of LIVE mobile video content has exploded.
  • This panel explores how producers, channels and online content services are all testing live video solutions that will compete in a Facebook and YouTube world. The panelists describe the demanding editorial, technical and scheduling challenges of delivering LIVE programming.
  • Learn why LIVE! is the wave of the future, driven by channels who are redefining themselves as video-based brands that operate across platforms, and as social media leaders double down on their investment in original video content.


Laura Fleury, A&E, New York
Nicola Harvey, Buzzfeed, Sydney
Graham Wallington, WildEarth, Johannesburg
Michael O’Neill, ABC, Sydney
Moderator: Peter Hamilton (ex-Sunshine Tech)