In the United Kingdom, viewing figures - the number of viewers or households watching a television programme - have been recorded by the Broadcasters' Audience Research Board (BARB) since 1981. Prior to the board's formation, figures were conducted by different means, such as the BBC financing its own audience research, while the ITV companies sub-contracted theirs.

Most watched special events

The majority of special events attracting large audiences are often carried on more than one channel. The most watched special event programme of all time on a single channel in the UK is the 1973 wedding ceremony of Princess Anne, shown only on BBC1. +more * Post-1981 figures verified by the Broadcasters' Audience Research Board (BARB) * Pre-1981 figures supplied by the British Film Institute (BFI).

RankEventAverage audience (millions)Date%|Network(s)
11966 FIFA World Cup Final: England v West Germany32. 30BBC One/ITV
2Funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales32. +more10BBC One/ITV
3Royal Family (documentary)30. 69andBBC One/ITV
4UEFA Euro 2020 Final: Italy v England29. 85BBC One/ITV
5Apollo 13 Splashdown28. 60BBC One/ITV
61970 FA Cup Final replay: Chelsea v Leeds United28. 49BBC One/ITV
7Wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer28. 40BBC One/ITV
8Wedding of Princess Anne and Mark Phillips27. 60BBC One
9Prime minister Boris Johnson's statement on COVID-1927. 10BBC One/ITV/Channel 4/Channel 5/Sky News/BBC News/S4C
10State funeral of Elizabeth II26. 2019 September 2022BBC One/BBC Two/ITV network/Sky network and others
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Notes: * At least two Muhammad Ali boxing matches were reported to have been watched by at least 26million viewers in the United Kingdom: the Fight of the Century (Ali vs. Frazier) was reported to have been watched by 27. +more5million British viewers in 1971, and The Rumble in the Jungle (Ali vs. Foreman) was reported to have been watched by 26million viewers on BBC One in 1974. * The wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton (29 April 2011) received a total average audience of 26 million viewers. This is a combined figure aggregated from the ten different channels that broadcast the ceremony. The highest figures of these were 13. 59 million on BBC One, with an extra 4. 02 million watching on ITV. * Boris Johnson's 23 March 2020 address was simulcast to 14. 61 million viewers on BBC One, 5. 80 million on ITV, and more than 6 million on other channels. * The state funeral of Elizabeth II (19 September 2022) was watched by an average audience of 18. 5 million viewers on BBC channels.

Most watched programmes

The following is a list of most watched programmes, excluding sporting events and news coverage. The mid-1980s introduction of in-week repeat showings accounts for six of the top ten programmes. +more On this measure, the 1996 Christmas edition of Only Fools and Horses is, not including figures for repeats, the most-watched non-documentary programme of all time so far in the United Kingdom. It is the third most-watched single-showing programme of all time so far on a single channel, behind the 2012 Summer Olympics closing ceremony and the wedding of Princess Anne and Mark Phillips in 1973 (see below). * Post-1981 figures verified by the Broadcasters' Audience Research Board (BARB) * Pre-1981 figures supplied by the British Film Institute.

Key * Numbers with this background and symbol are italicised to denote aggregated figure with repeat showing.

RankProgrammeSynopsisViewers (millions)DateNetworkRef
1EastEndersDen Watts serves his wife Angie with divorce papers. background:#FFE5B4|30. +more15BBC One
2EastEndersThe aftermath of Den Watts' divorce to his wife Angie. background:#FFE5B4| 28. 00BBC One
3Coronation StreetHilda Ogden leaves Weatherfield. background:#FFE5B4| 26. 65ITV (Granada)
4Live Aid16-hour concert in Wembley Stadium and John F. Kennedy Stadium for Band Aid. 24. 5013 July 1985BBC One/BBC Two
5Only Fools and Horses"Time on Our Hands"24. 35BBC One
6EastEndersArthur and Pauline Fowler urge their son Mark to tell his sister Michelle that he has HIV. 24. 30BBC One
7Royal Variety Performance 1965Featuring Dame Shirley Bassey, Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, and more. 24. 20ITV (ATV)
8EastEndersAngie Watts suffers a renal shutdown. 24. 15BBC One
9To the Manor BornFinale of the first series. 23. 95BBC One
10Miss World 1967Madeline Hartog-Bel (Miss Peru) wins. 23. 76BBC One
11EastEndersThe aftermath of Den Watts' divorce to his wife Angie23. 55BBC One
12EastEnders: Who Shot Phil?It is revealed that Lisa Shaw shot Phil Mitchellbackground:#FFE5B4|23. 18BBC One
13PanoramaDiana, Princess of Wales interview22. 78BBC One
14Royal Variety Performance 1975Performers include Bruce Forsyth, Dad's Army and Vera Lynn. 22. 66ITV (ATV)
15This Is Your LifeLord Mountbatten22. 22ITV (Thames)
16Sunday Night at the London PalladiumPresented by Jimmy Tarbuck. 21. 89ITV (ATV)
17The Benny Hill Show"Cinema: The Vintage Years"21. 67ITV (Thames)
18Dallas"Who Done It" - Kristin Shepard is revealed to have shot J. R. Ewing. 21. 60BBC One
18Coronation StreetKen and Deirdre Barlow finalise their divorce. 21. 60ITV (Granada)
19Eurovision Song Contest 1973Staged in Luxembourg - won by Anne-Marie David. 21. 56BBC One
20Steptoe and Son"The Lodger" - Albert looks for a lodger. 21. 54BBC TV
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Most watched films

These are the most watched films by total number of viewers (dates are when the films were broadcast, not necessarily when they were produced).

RankTitleViewers (millions)DateNetwork
1Live and Let Die23. 50ITV
2Jaws23. +more25ITV
3The Spy Who Loved Me22. 90ITV
4Diamonds Are Forever22. 15ITV
5Crocodile Dundee21. 75BBC1
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Most watched broadcasts by year

This table details the most watched programmes on a single channel based on average viewing figures.

YearProgrammeDateViewers (millions)Network
1970Apollo 13 SplashdownN/AN/A
1971Muhammad Ali vs. +more Joe Frazier: Fight of the Century21. 12BBC One
1972Eurovision Song Contest 197225 March 1972N/ABBC One
1973Wedding of Princess Anne and Mark Phillips27. 60BBC One
1974Love Thy Neighbour21. 01ITV (Thames)
1975Royal Variety Performance 197522. 66ITV (ATV)
1976The Sweeney20. 68ITV
1977This Is Your Life22. 22ITV (Thames)
1978Sale of the Century21. 15ITV
1979To the Manor Born23. 95BBC One
1980Film: Live and Let Die23. 50ITV
1981Film: Jaws8 October 198123. 30ITV
1982Film: The Spy Who Loved Me28 March 198222. 90ITV
1983Coronation Street23 February 198318. 45ITV
1984Royal Variety Performance 198425 November 198420. 55BBC One
1985Live Aid13 July 198524. 50BBC One
1986EastEnders25 December 198630. 15BBC One
1987EastEnders1 January 198728. 00BBC One
1988EastEnders7 January 198824. 15BBC One
1989Film: Crocodile Dundee25 December 198921. 77BBC One
1990Neighbours26 February 199021. 16BBC One
1991Coronation Street25 November 199120. 45ITV
1992Coronation Street22 January 199220. 45ITV
1993Coronation Street22 March 199320. 73ITV
1994Torvill and Dean - Olympic Ice Dance Championship21 February 199423. 95BBC One
1995Panorama Special: An Interview with HRH The Princess of Wales20 November 199522. 78BBC One
1996Only Fools and Horses29 December 199624. 35BBC One
1997Funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales6 September 199719. 29BBC One
19981998 FIFA World Cup: England v Argentina30 June 199823. 78ITV
1999Coronation Street7 March 199919. 82ITV
2000Coronation Street3 January 200018. 96ITV
2001Only Fools and Horses25 December 200121. 34BBC One
2002Only Fools and Horses25 December 200217. 40BBC One
2003Coronation Street24 February 200319. 43ITV
2004UEFA Euro 2004: England v Portugal24 June 200420. 66BBC One
2005Coronation Street21 February 200514. 36ITV
20062006 FIFA World Cup: England v Sweden20 June 200618. 46ITV
2007EastEnders25 December 200714. 38BBC One
2008Film: A Matter of Loaf and Death25 December 200816. 15BBC One
2009Britain's Got Talent30 May 200918. 29ITV
2010The X Factor12 December 201016. 55ITV
2011Wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton29 April 201113. 59BBC One
20122012 Summer Olympics closing ceremony12 August 201224. 46BBC One
2013New Year's Eve Fireworks31 December 201313. 53BBC One
20142014 FIFA World Cup Final: Germany v Argentina13 July 201414. 96BBC One
2015The Great British Bake Off7 October 201515. 05BBC One
2016The Great British Bake Off26 October 201615. 90BBC One
2017Blue Planet II29 October 201714. 01BBC One
20182018 FIFA World Cup semi-finals: Croatia v England11 July 201820. 73ITV
2019Gavin & Stacey25 December 201917. 92BBC One
2020Prime ministerial statement on COVID-1910 May 202018. 99BBC One
2021UEFA Euro 2020: England v Denmark7 July 202118. 40ITV
2022Platinum Party at the Palace4 June 202213. 07BBC One
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Notes