Britain's top TV shows of 2021

Britain’s top TV shows of 2021: From the Euro 2020 final and Line of Duty to Boris Johnson ordering the January lockdown and Harry and Meghan’s bombshell Oprah interview

It was the moment the nation collectively bit its nails as millions crowded round tellies to witness England’s shot at Euros glory.

The Three Lions may have ultimately lost against Italy on penalties, but the dramatic broadcast became the most watched of the year.

July’s Euros final peaked at some 30million viewers, beating Line of Duty and Boris Johnson’s lockdown announcement to the top spot. 

The football tournament dominated TV ratings this year, accounting for five of the top ten most watched individual broadcasts. 

The football tournament dominated TV ratings this year, accounting for five of the top ten most watched individual broadcasts

The football tournament dominated TV ratings this year, accounting for five of the top ten most watched individual broadcasts 

July’s Euros final peaked at some 30million viewers, beating Line of Duty

July’s Euros final peaked at some 30million viewers, beating Line of Duty








Harry and Meghan during their bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey

Harry and Meghan during their bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey

Full coverage of the final, including pre- and post-match content, drew an average audience of almost 22million across BBC1 and ITV. For the game itself it was 29.85million.

Other matches among the most watched shows were England’s semi-final against Denmark, which peaked at 25.7million, and the quarter-final with Ukraine.

Aside from football, the most watched show of the year was Line of Duty. The finale, which revealed the identity of ‘H’, was watched by 15.2million people. 

When measured by individual episode, all seven were in the top 20 shows of 2021.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson makes a televised address to the nation from 10 Downing Street

Prime Minister Boris Johnson makes a televised address to the nation from 10 Downing Street








Rhys Nicholson and Nancy Xu during the live show for BBC One's Strictly Come Dancing 2021

Rhys Nicholson and Nancy Xu during the live show for BBC One’s Strictly Come Dancing 2021

Huw Edwards presenting BBC News

Huw Edwards presenting BBC News








The data, provided by Overnights.tv, combine live viewing figures with those for TV catch-ups within seven days. 

Boris Johnson’s nine-minute address to the nation in January announcing a new national lockdown was the third most seen show of the year, with 14.1million views.

But the true figure is even higher as an ITV News special involving the announcement peaked at more than 3million viewers. The BBC News Special which followed it drew in an audience of 11.1million.

Strictly Come Dancing’s most watched episode saw 10.8million Britons tune in – but tonight’s final is likely to eclipse this figure. 

BBC1’s submarine drama Vigil, starring Suranne Jones, was the stand-out new show of the year, with 10.4 million viewers.

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