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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 February, 2004, 18:01 GMT
Beatles top three in US TV list
The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show
Beatlemania took hold in the US after the Sullivan performances
The Beatles' debut US TV appearances on the Ed Sullivan show 40 years ago are still among the most-watched programmes in US history, according to a study.

The band's first two appearances on the show in February 1964 have the second and third highest viewing figures ever.

About 40% of the US population - about 70 million - saw the historic shows that sparked Beatlemania in America.

They were beaten only by the 1983 finale episode of war comedy M*A*S*H which drew nearly 106 million viewers.

US top five shows
1. M*A*S*H 1983 - 105.9m viewers
2. Beatles on Sullivan, 9 February 1964 - 73m viewers
3. Beatles on Sullivan, 16 February 1964 - 70.7m viewers
4. Super Bowl XVI, 1982 - 85.2m viewers
5. Dallas (Who Shot JR?) - 83m viewers

In fourth place was the 1982 Super Bowl - seen by more than 85m viewers - and fifth was the famous 1980 episode of the Ewing family soap Dallas in which villain JR was shot (83m).

The 1993 finale of comedy Cheers and various Super Bowls made up the remainder of top 10.

Next week sees the 40th anniversary of the Beatles' first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show on 9 February.

They performed the songs All My Loving, Till There Was You, She Loves You, I Saw Her Standing There and I Want To Hold Your Hand.

According to reports at the time, the crime rate in US cities dropped dramatically during the broadcast as criminals stopped their activities to tune in.

The top 10 study, calculated using the percentage of population viewing, was compiled in part by data from the US Census Bureau.

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