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Monday, June 21, 1999 Published at 11:25 GMT 12:25 UK


Modest audience for Royal Wedding

Sophie and Edward lacked the pulling power of other royal weddings

The low-key nature of the Royal Wedding has been reflected in the TV ratings with fewer than 14 million people watching the ceremony on the BBC and ITV.

A total of 8.6 million people tuned in to the BBC special to see Prince Edward marry Sophie Rhys-Jones at St George's Chapel, Windsor, while 5.3 million saw the coverage on ITV, according to the unofficial overnight figures.

The BBC had a 47% share of the viewing audience, while ITV had a 29% share.

Royal Wedding
More than a million people chose to watch the Brookside omnibus on Channel 4, while 0.9 million tuned in to BBC Two's programmes which included a vintage repeat of Space: 1999, first shown on ITV more than 20 years ago.

At 5.50pm the previous Saturday six million viewers watched the game show Catchphrase on ITV - 700,000 more.

The TV ratings for the wedding of the Earl and Countess of Wessex are well down on previous Royal Weddings.

[ image: Pulling power: Charles and Diana's wedding tops TV list]
Pulling power: Charles and Diana's wedding tops TV list
The Prince and Princess of Wales' ceremony in 1981 tops the list, pulling in 28.4 million.

BBC One and BBC Two had 19.4 million viewers while ITV had nine million, according to figures supplied by Jictar, the body then in charge of compiling audience figures.

Princess Anne's 1973 marriage to Mark Phillips had a combined average audience of 27.8 million, BBC figures showed.

The Duke and Duchess of York's 1986 nuptials had a 20.5 million audience for the actual service - with BBC One pulling in 14.2 million and ITV 6.3 million, according to research body Barb.

ITV were pleased with their audience. A spokeswoman said: "We gained nearly 40% of the audience who were watching the Royal Wedding.

"Gone are the days when everyone automatically tuned into the BBC for events like these.

"We have a very good team of reporters and people do like our style of coverage."

A BBC spokeswoman said the figures were an average and viewers for their programme had peaked at between 10 and 11 million.

The BBC special was presented by Michael Buerk and Sue Barker, while Sir Trevor McDonald fronted the ITV coverage.

On Saturday, the BBC supplied pictures from St George's Chapel to other broadcasters including Sky News and stations in Germany, France, Spain, Belgium, Norway and Holland.

On top of individual agreements signed with broadcasters, the event was beamed into homes via the BBC World and BBC America services.

The official Barb viewing figures for Edward and Sophie's wedding will not be available until 29 June.

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