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Best British Documentaries, Factual, Lifestyle & Current Affairs, 1H 2018. UK Ratings #1-100

The “Best of British” is one of my most popular posts that lists the year’s highest-rated unscripted programs in the UK.

For a different look at 2018 through June 30, I combined the Documentary, Factual, Lifestyle & Current Affairs categories.

My expanding coverage of Audience Analysis is sponsored by Parrot Analytics. Watch out for more posts and podcasts on the revolution in audience measurement, and what it means for programmers and producers.


  • I was impressed by the Share earned by the Harry / Meghan wedding.
  • Share is expressed as a percentage of the audience that was actually watching TV at the time.
  • The wedding earned a whopping 62.9!
  • Here is the UK Top 10 for 1H 2018, measured by Share:
Share (%)
The Royal Wedding: Harry & MeghanBBC 162.9
Countryfile Royal Special: WindsorBBC 132.4
Countryfile Royal Special: Sand’hamBBC 128.4
The Real Full Monty: Ladies’ NightITV28.1
CountryfileBBC 126.7
Countryfile Royal Special: BalmoralBBC 126.1
The CoronationBBC 125.6
The Queen’s Green PlanetITV25.3
MasterchefBBC 125.0
Britain’s Busiest Airport – HeathrowITV25.0

Takeaways: Share

  • The royals dominate with 6 out of the Top 10.
  • Maybe its a measure of Britain’ backward-looking Brexit mentality?
  • The nostalgic Countryfile magazine (#2,3,5) continues to attract the audience that is loyal to the channels.
    • Hats off to this well-conceived, low-budget production.
    • It out-performs even prestigious BBC documentaries and even big-budget scripted series.
  • The Coronation (#6) is a BBC / Smithsonian / ABC Australia documentary production.
  • And the Heathrow reality series keeps on delivering.


  • And here is 1H 2018 (#1-50) measured by audience.
  • Note more royal dominance!
1Royal Wedding: Harry & MeghanBBC 18,916
2The CoronationBBC 16,899
3CountryfileBBC 16,492
4The Queen’s Green PlanetITV6,356
5The Real Full Monty: Ladies’ NightITV6,327
6MasterchefBBC 16,089
7Great Celebrity Bake Off for CancerCH45,678
8Antiques RoadshowBBC 15,667
9The Real Full Monty: LiveITV5,223
10DIY SOS: The Big BuildBBC 15,219
11Big CatsBBC 15,026
12James Bulger: A Mother’s StoryITV4,932
13Countryfile Royal Special: Sand’hamBBC 14,908
14Attenborough / Giant Sea DragonBBC 14,860
15Countryfile Royal Special: BalmoralBBC 14,827
16The One ShowBBC 14,709
17Countryfile Royal Special: WindsorBBC 14,687
18The Truth About Getting FitBBC 14,594
20Britain’s Busiest Airport – HeathrowITV4,544
22AmbulanceBBC 14,398
23The Martin Lewis Money ShowITV4,357
24Death Row 2018 w Trevor McdonaldITV4,039
25Wonders of the MoonBBC 14,022
26Animals with CamerasBBC 14,021
27RAF At 100 BBC 13,925
28Britain’s Fat Fight w Hugh FearnleyBBC 13,909
29The Cruise: MediterraneanITV3,898
30What Would Your Kid Do?ITV3,861
31The Great Festive Bake OffCH43,829
32The Cruise: Voyage to AlaskaITV3,802
33President Trump – Piers MorganITV3,719
34Serial Killer w Piers MorganITV3,709
35Britain’s Favourite Dogs: Top 100ITV3,694
36The Truth About CarbsBBC 13,684
37Earth’s Natural WondersBBC 13,676
38The Real CamillaITV3,675
39Children Who KillITV3,653
4024 Hours In Police CustodyCH43,652
41Long Lost Family: NextITV3,613
42The Cruise: Sailing the CaribbeanITV3,587
43Tom Kerridge’s Lose Weight 4 GoodBBC 23,520
44Paul O’Grady: Love of Dogs – IndiaITV3,487
45The Truth about Looking GoodBBC 13,455
46WatchdogBBC 13,409
47The Royal Wedding: Highlights BBC 23,369
48100 Years Younger in 21 DaysITV3,364
49The Martin Lewis Money Show LiveITV3,361
50The InvestigatorITV3,323

  • And here comes #51-100, measured by Audience.
  • With even more royals and their weddings.
  • But thankfully, lots of the high-quality and imaginative programs that distinguish UK television.
  • A&E Live captured by attention because LIVE programming is undergoing a steady revival in the Wildlife, Crime, Medical and other genres.
51Top GearBBC 23,315
52The Royal Wives of WindsorITV3,275
53A&E LiveITV3,273
54Pr. Harry’s Story: 4 Royal WeddingsITV3,270
55Inside Out – Pharmacists / Pressure?BBC 13,212
56Invitation to a Royal WeddingITV3,211
57Miriam’s Big American AdventureBBC 13,174
58Rachel Nickell: The Untold StoryITV3,116
59Save Money: Good FoodITV3,107
60Inside the FactoryBBC 23,105
61Fake BritainBBC 13,104
62Taking on Putin: PanoramaBBC 13,103
63The RHS Chelsea Flower ShowBBC 13,096
64Who Do You Think You Are?BBC 13,068
65Britain’s Best Walks w Julia BradburyITV3,027
66Home from HomeBBC 13,011
67Inside OutBBC 13,001
68Panorama: Millionaire BankruptsBBC 12,996
69The Fast Fix: DiabetesITV2,984
70Love Your GardenITV2,962
71Gardeners’ WorldBBC 22,950
72Paul O’Grady: Love of DogsITV2,931
73The Island w Bear GryllsCH42,931
74Antiques Road TripBBC 12,908
75Harold Shipman: Doctor DeathITV2,906
76A House Through TimeBBC 22,897
77100 Year Old Driving SchoolITV2,880
78The Truth About ObesityBBC 12,862
8024 Hours in A&ECH42,856
81Nightmare Pets SOSBBC 12,853
82Surgeons: At the Edge of LifeBBC 22,851
83Dragons’ DenBBC 22,832
84Bulger Killers: Was Justice Done?CH42,821
86Best of the PalladiumITV2,807
87Royal Wedding: Married in MorningBBC 12,804
88Bargain HuntBBC 12,769
89River MonstersITV2,769
90The Sheriffs are ComingBBC 12,742
91Panorama – Trump Voters: 1 Year +BBC 12,738
92The Kyle FilesITV2,717
93Trust Me, I’m a DoctorBBC 22,703
94SAS: Who Dares WinsCH42,695
95Panorama: Brit’s Equal Pay ScandalBBC 12,692
96Blue Planet II: Oceans of WonderBBC 12,681
97Devon & Cornwall CopsITV2,665
98Stephen: Murder Changed a NationBBC 12,649
99Panorama – White Fright / BritainBBC 12,649
100Escape to the ChateauCH42,649


  • I’m in Durban, South Africa attending the fascinating and engaging NEWF conference that links nature, the environment and film-making.
  • I’ll share my detailed UK Takeaways later.

Editorial Assistant: Mary Alice McMillan