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EDITIONS
Thursday, 22 March, 2001, 18:53 GMT
The ups and downs of TV ratings
Only Fools and Horses
Only Fools and Horses is a ratings winner
Television ratings can be a bit of a hot potato - the official figures do not recognise totals which include more than one channel or repeats.

This means that the Broadcasters' Audience Research Board (Barb), which compiles them, has Only Fools and Horses, which garnered 24.3 million viewers in 1996, at the top of its list.

But unofficial figures state that the multi-channel showing of the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997 was watched by 31 million people in the UK.

It was also thought to have been watched by 2.5 billion people worldwide.

Crocodile Dundee
Crocodile Dundee: Tenth in the list of ratings hits
And the BBC's unforgettable Christmas 1986 episode of EastEnders, when Queen Vic landlord Den divorced Angie got an unofficial total of 30.1 million viewers, including repeats.

Another Eastenders extravaganza, when barmaid Sharon admitted sleeping with her husband Grant's brother Phil, attracted an unofficial total of 25.3 million viewers.

But even with the "unofficial" figures, the high-hitters are not all from the 1990s, despite the fact TV ownership went up to about 55 million sets in 23 million homes.

This suggests that the wider variety of choice for home entertainment, such as satellite channels and computer games, is watering down TV ratings.

EastEnders' Den and Angie
EastEnders' Den and Angie divorce made compelling viewing
This is not curtailing people's appetite for football matches, however.

The 1986 World Cup, where England lost to Argentina was watched by an unofficial 23.8 million people. And England's defeat of Cameroon at 1990's World Cup grabbed the attention of an also unofficial 23.63 million.

And England losing to Germany during 1990's World Cup got unofficial figures of 25.2 million.

However, these do not figure on the official list, which is a mixture of golden oldies and a few recent favourites:

    1. Only Fools and Horses (1996): 24.3m
    2. To The Manor Born (1979): 23.9m
    3. Live and Let Die (1980): 23.5m
    4. Jaws (1981): 23.2m
    5. Spy Who Loved Me (1982): 22.9m
    6. Royal Variety Performance hosted by Ken Dodd (1967): 22.8m
    7. Diana, Princess of Wales's Panorama interview (1995): 22.75m
    8. Royal Variety Performance with Peter Sellers, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore (1965): 22.6m
    9. Diamonds are Forever (1981): 22.1m
    10. Crocodile Dundee (1989): 21.7m


In DepthIN DEPTH
Broadcasting
Charting its past, present and digital future
See also:

05 Sep 00 | Entertainment
24 Dec 97 | Christmas Television
20 Oct 99 | Entertainment
22 Sep 98 | Entertainment
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