This week we take a closer look at the shows that topped the ratings in 2015, and explore their recipes for success.
1. The Great British Bake Off BBC One – 15 million
For the uninitiated, the fact that BBC One’s The Great British Bake Off has topped the ratings for 2015, and by some margin, might come as a surprise. But the Great British Bake Off is a juggernaut, full of momentum and surprises – like the emotional series finale, where the crown went to Nadiya Hussain, a popular and deserving winner. With over 15 million viewers in the UK, and having just won at the National Television Awards, The Great British Bake Off has cemented its position as the top show in the UK.
2. Britain’s Got Talent, ITV1 – 12.7 million
What other show would see a dog and her trainer slug it out through all the rounds to see them become the eventual winners of the entire series? OK, so there was a stand-in stunt dog to do the high wire part of the act, but who knew dogs could be afraid of heights? It’s moments and stories like these that make Britain’s Got Talent unique – and net 12.7 million viewers in the process, making it the most-watched entertainment show of 2015.
3. Strictly Come Dancing, BBC One – 11.7 million
Since May 2004 when it first aired, Britain has taken ‘Strictly’ to its heart. This year, 11.7 million viewers tuned into the ratings-busting finale, as Tess and Claudia set to work making the show their own in the post-Brucie era. Over the years, the format has been exported to over 40 other countries. And now, back at home, it’s just waltzed off with Best Talent Show at the National Television Awards.
4. EastEnders, BBC One – 11.5 million
This is Eastenders – so of course there was no let-up in the drama last year. Highlights include the flashback episode to Lucy Beale’s untimely demise and the pain and heartbreak that followed. But the actors weren’t alone in putting in star-turn performances – the figures are more than healthy, as ratings reached 11.5 million. Proving there’s plenty of appetite for quality drama and stories that push boundaries.
5. I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here! ITV1 – 11.3 million
The original reality show in the jungle continues to draw in the big audiences through a savvy mixture of personalities that provide combustible chemistry on screen. Of note this year? It’s up for debate, but surely in there must be Fearne’s spidergate, Bannatyne’s new image as stud muffin, Lady C’s antics, and Vicky the eventual winner, ex of Geordie Shore (who could have called that one?) Hardly surprising then that ‘I’m a Celebrity’ just won the prize for top entertainment programme at the National Television Awards. Watch the winner being announced here:
6. Downtown Abbey, ITV1 – 10.89 million
The now-famous Alienesque ulcer-bursting scene when Lord Grantham, er, sprayed his dinner guests surely rates as one of the more surprising moments of the last series. But of course it’s not all blood and guts. The emotionally charged storylines and finely drawn characters have helped ‘Downton’ into the top ten with just shy of 11 million viewers in the UK. And now its popularity and achievements have just been recognised by a National Television Award for Best Drama.
7. Broadchurch, ITV1 – 10.86 million
Maintaining the momentum of the first series looked like a challenge. But the season-long trial of Joe Miller, and the exploration of the grief and other consequences of murder was clearly a hit too with viewers Reaching 10.86 million, making it the highest rated drama on ITV. A new series of Broadchurch has been commissioned, but as yet no air date has been announced.
8. Call The Midwife, BBC One – 10.7 million
On the face of it, Call the Midwife is a rather cosy-looking period drama about mid-century midwives. But scratch the surface and you’ll find storylines that blend lesbian passions, alcoholism and dementia with Boy Scout parades, serial tea drinking and vintage dresses. Gripping stuff – perhaps that’s why it’s attracted 10.7 million viewers and a place in the top ten.
The Voice, BBC One – 10.09 million
The Voice mixed things up with blind auditions, ‘battles’, ‘knockouts’ and live shows, plus a social media participation angle when it first came to UK screens back in 2012. Now with new coaches Boy George and Paloma Faith the show regains its mojo, and with over 10 million viewers, it’s still a force to be reckoned with. A new series of The Voice has already begun and the next episode will be shown on Saturday 23 January on BBC One at 7.45pm.
10. Doctor Foster, BBC One – 10 million
A very strong performance by Suranne Jones in the title role boosted this five-part series that explored the suspicion, pain and rage of a woman who uncovers her husband’s affair. The critics were positive too and audiences agreed with them, as 10 million people tuned in for the final episode. And the icing on the cake was applied on the 20th Jan this year when it netted Best New Drama at the National Television Awards.
Honorable mention: Humans, Channel 4 – 6.8 million
A big highlight for Channel 4 last year was Humans, the channel’s highest rated drama since the early 1990s. Critically acclaimed, the series stands out conceptually as it explores themes about the evolving role of technology, AI and consciousness, and human-robot interaction, as well as social themes like racism and class struggle. Look out for a new series Humans returning to our screens later this year.