I've always been a bit of a fan of charts. Even now, in these crazy download days, I still have a residual interest in the UK Top 40 'singles' chart and, whilst I don't exactly hang on Reggie and Fearne's every word of a Sunday afternoon on "the Nation's favourite" I usually track down the Top 40 Singles and Albums Chart on Sunday night just to see what's going up and what's going down and which charisma-free ex-karaoke singer spewed out by flathead Simon Cowell is clinging on to the 'top' spot this week. Ahem.
Similarly with the TV charts. I check the BARB site (BARB collates all the TV ratings information and updates its chart for two weeks previously every Wednesday, these figures including what's known as 'timeshift' figures, ie people who have recorded a show and watched it later, added to the raw overnight data produced the morning after broadcast). The chart, which is collated by monitoring and keeping a record of programmes watched by a broad, demographically-balanced selection of people across the UK, is used to estimate the numbers of viewers of any given show by extrapolating from the sample figures how and what the whole British public is likely to have watched. Of course like any chart of this kind it can't be entirely accurate but it's probably as fair a snapshot as we're ever going to be able to get as to the nation's viewing habits.
BARB's chart, for those unfamiliar with it, is usually broken down into the figures for each individual channel and there's never a Top 20 chart combining all these figures. Not to suggest that I have too much spare time on my hands (!) but I have been known to sift through BARB's figures and, purely for my own interest (and sometimes for the interest of visitors to 'The Dr Who Forum' where there's a lively thread in their TV section which....er..discusses TV ratings and viewing trends....God, this sounds a bit lame...!) collate a Top 20 of TV programmes for the most recent week reported by BARB. I've decided to resurrect the idea and post it as a regular weekly feature here on the World of Stuff just because I think it's interesting (so there) and maybe some of you will too.
MY CHART, MY RULES
Here's how it works because I like it this way. BARB's chart records the individual episode figures of every edition of every programme. Hence, inevitably, the BBC and ITV charts are dominated by endless episodes of EastEnders, Coronation Street and the one vaguely set on the farm. That's a bit dull, frankly. My preferred chart includes figures for multiple-episode shows averaged out (ie totalling the figures for each episode and then dividng by the number of episodes screened: e.g add together the figures for, say, six episodes of Coronation Street shown during the week and divide that total; by six to give an average figure for the viewers of the entire week's output of the show). The idea is to compile a chart which demonstrates the most popular TV shows, rather than TV episodes. There's a subtle distinction and it works for me! As far as the talent/reality shows are concerned, where there's a regular show and a 'finale' show or a second show or 'catch'up' (or however these damned shows work) in the same night, that counts as two editions of the same programme for the purposes of my chart. News broadcasts are omitted because they're so frequent and rarely rate highly enought to be likely to creep into the chart.
So that's how it works. I'll be highlighting 'multiple episode' shows by the simple expedient of *. Are you with me so far? Let's begin with the most current available figures, for the week ending December 21st, 2008 (BARB's figure run from Monday - Sunday). So here's the UK's most popular television programmes for the week before Christmas...
1 Strictly Come Dancing (BBC1)..............12.50 *
2 Coronation Street (ITV1)...............9.58 *
3 EastEnders (BBC1)...............8.75 *
4 National Lottery (Saturday) (BBC1)..........7.82
5 Royal Variety Performance (BBC1)..........7.75
6 Casualty (BBC1)..............7.34 *
7 Emmerdale (ITV1)..............7.02 *
8 Outnumbered (BBC1)..............6.87
9 Lark Rise to Candleford (BBC1)..............6.58
10 Antiques Roadshow (BBC1)..............6.32
11 Taggart (ITV1)..............6.18
12 Clash of the Santas (ITV1)..............6.11
13 Out-take TV (BBC1)..............6.02
14 Holby City (BBC1)..............5.65
15 Survivors (BBC1)..............5.62
16 The One Show (BBC1)..............5.26 *
17) The Bill (ITV1)..............5.22 *
17) Have I Got News For You (BBC1)..............5.22
19 All Star Mr and Mrs (ITV1)..............5.04
20 The Royal (ITV1)..............4.96
Chart comment: Interesting to see BBC1 dominating the chart these days with a broad range of programming, claiming 13 of the Top 20 slots. The final of 'Strictly' inevitably topped the figures for the week with the soaps claiming their usual 8 - 9 million viewers (but some distance away from the 12 million plus the Big Two used to reach even a year or so ago). The 'Strictly' finale helped the penultimate episode of the second series of the superb BBC1 comedy 'Outnumbered' double its usual figures and hopefully will alone be enough to secure a well-deserved third series. The first Christmas shows appear in the chart - BBC1's 'Lark Rise' (a Christmas special and the first in a new series) and ITV's saccharine-sweet 'Clash of the Santas' - both of which pulled in decent figures and proved there's still an audience out there for the right kind of non-soap drams. BBC1's 'Survivors' is still doing well with over 5.5 million...a decent figure considering the poor 3 million figures posted by other new high profile drama launches on both ITV1 and BBC1 this year. Shame the finale episode was a bit lost in the pre-Christmas rush, being screened on December 23rd and, with an overnight of around 4 million, unlikely to feature in next week's chart (unless there's a huge timeshift). Still, the second series is already in the bag. Finally, the BBC's 'The One Show' is doing remarkably well these days, steadily gaining ground on the ailing farm soap 'Emmerdale' The smart money is on 'The One Show' closing the gap considerably when it returns from its Christmas break.
Any comments about the new TV Chart feature will be very much appreciated. Are you interested in this sort of stuff? Anything you want to comment about the chart and what's in it? Post a comment, you know what to do!