Take a look at the TV programmes behind these incredible viewing figures…
Before the days of Netflix, and before Sky TV and all those other channels became the force they are now, people’s TV viewing choices were a bit limited. That meant that TV shows and events connected the whole country – and the following day, the nation was in deep discussion about what they’d watched the night before. And the viewing figures were tremendous. Here are a few highlights from the USA, Britain and beyond…
The final series finale in 1991 had viewing figures in the USA of 33.3 million, which is almost as high as the number of complaints the BBC received after the last appearance of harsh comedian Frankie Boyle.
After 14 seasons following the exploits of big-hatted J.R. Ewing and his terrible behaviour, the finale was perceived by viewers as a disaster, which then prompted a movie five years later to reveal ‘the real ending’. Viewing figures in the UK for the series finale were over 20 million.
Friends on TV
The finale of Friends in 2004 saw the highest TV viewing figures for a TV series in the 21st century (in the USA) and are unlikely to be beaten. 52.5 million people tuned in to see what happened in the end. We know what happened in the end, they all had disappointing movie careers, that’s what.
1966 World Cup Final
England 4 West Germany 2. Let’s just say that again, as it’s never likely to happen again. England 4 West Germany 2. Yes, we beat the Germans fair and square that day, and the viewing figures were 32.3 million, which is incredible, as only a dozen households in the whole country had a telly in those days. Even the Queen had to take a buffet and sit outside Woolworth’s shop window to watch the match.
Do you remember this ‘tashed dectective from back in the 80’s? The ladie’s favourite was hairy fella Tom Sellick who played Magnum, a sort of well-off detective who had his own butler and a helicopter in his garden. 50.7 million tuned in to watch the first of two finales. The first one didn’t go down very well, so they made a second finale. It was like their own version of Brexit!
Torville & Dean: The TV event
Yes, the two ice skaters from Nottingham got viewing figures of 23.95 million for their 1984 Olympic final routine in the ice dance competition. One was the pretty thing with long eyelashes and the cute bottom, the other was Jayne Torvill. They won the gold medal of course, and apparently, they are still very popular in parts of Nottingham.
What a war-zone. It wasn’t safe to be out and about, danger lurked at every turn, and the noise was staggering. That’s the last time we go on a hen-night in Hull! Fortunately, being a soldier in Korea wasn’t quite so bad – and this fabulous comedy-drama holds the all-time TV-series record in the USA with 105 million viewers for its finale in 1983.
The Spring Festival Gala
Just to put the USA and UK viewing figures in to perspective, the highest viewing figures ever in China were recorded for the 2019 New Year’s Eve show: Spring Festival Gala – a variety show that welcomes in the New Year. An incredible 621.4 million people tuned in on TV while another 527 million in China watched it on social media platforms. And a further 24.8 million outside China also tuned in.
Back in 1985 there was a huge music concert that was organised by Bob Geldof. On the bill there were lots of amazingly talented performers, plus Status Quo. Apparently, the queues for the toilets were over 40 miles long and the last person flushed 6 weeks after the gig finished. 24.5 million people watched the event in the UK.
Everyone loves a huge, life-changing event, and when Dirty Den served Angie with divorce papers in 1986, over 30 million people wanted to see the cataclysmic event. As Den dramatically thrust the papers towards Angie, there was such a power surge in the country that the whole of Huddersfield exploded. The sad thing is, no one noticed.