From Blue Planet to Bake Off: 25 biggest TV shows of 2010s revealed

By Ian Jones, PA

Cosy sitcoms, wildlife documentaries and a cookery contest were among the most watched TV programmes of the 2010s, new figures reveal – proving that the big hitters of the past decade were not all celebrity or reality shows.

The likes of Still Open All Hours, Blue Planet II and The Great British Bake Off all feature in the top 25, which provides a fascinating snapshot of the nation’s viewing habits over the past 10 years.

The two biggest programmes of the decade were confirmed earlier this month, when the 2019 Christmas Day episode of Gavin & Stacey pulled in a massive 17.1 million viewers – just short of the chart-topping 17.7 million for the 2010 final of The X Factor.

But now that full ratings for 2019 have been published, the rest of the chart can be confirmed.

(PA graphic)

No single genre dominates the list, which has been compiled by the PA news agency from figures published by Barb.

Instead, the top 25 features different types of programmes, from comedy and sci-fi to drama and natural history.

Both the big soaps make the top five, with EastEnders (third) two places ahead of Coronation Street (fifth).

Mary Berry shakes hands with Candice Brown, winner of the 2016 series of The Great British Bake Off (PA)

Cookery contest The Great British Bake Off is in fourth place.

The highest-placed drama is Bodyguard at number six – one of half a dozen dramas to make the top 25, along with the likes of Sherlock, Downton Abbey and Line Of Duty.

There are also six sitcoms on the list, including Still Open All Hours, Mrs Brown’s Boys and Miranda.

David Jason in Still Open All Hours (PA)

Natural history is represented by two of Sir David Attenborough’s flagship series: Blue Planet II (in eighth place) and Planet Earth II (eleventh).

Science fiction comes in the shape of Doctor Who, which is in twelfth place.

The chart, which is based on the highest-rated instance of each programme, is dominated by the BBC.

A total of 19 of the top 25 were broadcast on BBC One, with the remaining six transmitted by ITV.

Unsurprisingly, the two biggest celebrity shows of the decade appear high on the list, with Strictly Come Dancing at number seven and I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! at number nine.

Kara Tointon and Artem Chigvintsev performing in the 2010 Strictly Come Dancing final (PA)

But there are some unexpected entries in the chart.

The largely forgotten BBC One sitcom Come Fly With Me is at number 14, while BBC Sports Personality Of The Year is at number 25.

There is even a news programme at number 24, in the shape of a bulletin broadcast on BBC One on April 29 2011 immediately after the royal wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

The list proves it is still possible for programmes to attract bumper audiences, despite the rise of multi-channel TV and streaming services, with all but two of the entries on the chart getting over 11 million viewers.

David Walliams and Matt Lucas in Come Fly With Me (PA)

And those audiences were just as prevalent at the end of the decade as the beginning: three of the programmes in the top 10 were broadcast in either 2018 or 2019.

Huge numbers of people are still willing to tune in for traditional genres such as sitcoms and documentaries, alongside newer formats like reality shows and groundbreaking drama.

The chart only includes programmes made for television, and does not include coverage of live events such as sporting fixtures, concerts and royal weddings.

The single biggest TV audience of the 2010s, including live events, was for BBC One’s coverage of the Olympics 2012 closing ceremony, which was watched by 24.5 million.

Here is the top 25 in full. All figures include HD and +1 where appropriate.

1. The X Factor (ITV, Dec 12 2010): 17.7 million
2. Gavin & Stacey (BBC One, Dec 25 2019): 17.1 million
3. EastEnders (BBC One, Feb 19 2010): 16.4 million
4. The Great British Bake Off (BBC One, Oct 26 2016): 15.9 million
5. Coronation Street (ITV, Dec 6 2010): 14.7 million
6. Bodyguard (BBC One, Sep 23 2018): 14.3 million
7. Strictly Come Dancing (BBC One, Dec 18 2010): 14.3 million
8. Blue Planet II (BBC One, Oct 29 2017): 14.0 million
9. I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! (ITV, Nov 18 2018) 13.7 million
10. Britain’s Got Talent (ITV, Jun 5 2010) 13.5 million
11. Planet Earth II (BBC One, Nov 13 2016) 13.1 million
12. Doctor Who (BBC One, Nov 23 2013) 12.8 million
13. Sherlock (BBC One, Jan 1 2014) 12.7 million
14. Come Fly With Me (BBC One, Dec 25 2010) 12.5 million
15. Downton Abbey (ITV Nov 6 2011) 12.4 million
16. Still Open All Hours (BBC One, Dec 26 2013) 12.2 million
17. Line Of Duty (BBC One, May 5 2019) 12.1 million
18.The Voice UK (BBC One, Apr 14 2012) 12.0 million
19. Mrs Brown’s Boys (BBC One, Dec 24 2012) 11.7 million
20. Broadchurch (ITV, Apr 17 2017) 11.6 million
21. Miranda (BBC One, Dec 26 2012) 11.5 million
22. Call The Midwife (BBC One, Feb 19 2012) 11.4 million
23. The Royle Family (BBC One, Dec 25 2010) 11.3 million
24. BBC News (BBC One, Apr 29 2011) 10.8 million
25. Sports Personality Of The Year (BBC One, Dec 16 2012) 10.8 million