Blue Planet II is year's most watched British TV show

First episode of BBC’s latest David Attenborough series seen by 14.1 million, beating Strictly and a struggling X Factor

The first episode of Blue Planet II, the BBC’s new wildlife series, was the most watched programme of 2017 so far.

The show, narrated by Sir David Attenborough, was seen by 14.1 million people in the week since it was first broadcast on 29 October.

The consolidated audience made it not only the most watched programme of the year but the third most watched of the past five years, behind only the football World Cup final in 2014 and last year’s Great British Bake Off final.

The audience for Blue Planet II, which included those watching recordings and repeats, was more than 2 million higher than the 11.63 million who saw the One Love Manchester concert in June, which was previously the year’s biggest TV audience.

Blue Planet II comprehensively beating Strictly Come Dancing and the X Factor in the weekend ratings battle. X Factor’s viewing figures have fallen to a record low, calling into question the future of the ITV talent show.

The 28 October edition of Strictly, aired on the same weekend as Blue Planet II’s launch, attracted 12.28 million viewers, making it another of the year’s most popular shows.

Blue Planet II’s first episode featured surfing dolphins, fish that transformed from female to male, and a walrus herd struggling to find blocks of ice to rest on.

The seven-episode series is expected to be a global hit for the BBC and has already been sold to more than 30 countries.

The second episode, which aired on Sunday, was watched by an average overnight audience of 10.8 million. This overnight figure, which does not include those who watched recordings or repeats, was about 500,000 more than that for the first episode.

The BBC’s Strictly, with 10.1 million viewers, lost out to Blue Planet II again, while X Factor averaged just 4.3 million viewers – a record low. Its overnight audience was 4.6 million the previous Sunday.


Graham Ruddick Media editor

The GuardianTramp

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