These Were The UK’s Most Watched TV Shows of 2023

By Ellie Smith

7 months ago

2023's most popular TV


It has been a huge year for TV, with much hype around buzzy news shows like The White Lotus, Succession and The Bear. But which pulled in the most viewers? The BBC has published a report of the top 10 most watched TV shows of 2023 across all broadcasters and streamers, with a particularly popular crime drama, a momentous royal event and a handful of old reality classics coming out tops.

Which Were The UK’s Most Watched TV Shows of 2023?

King Charles III and Queen Camilla in Coronation gowns and crowns at Buckingham Palace on Coronation day

BBC/Oxford Film and Television

In first place was the Coronation of King Charles and Queen Camilla, which took place on 6 May 2023. All the main channels including the BBC, Sky News and ITV streamed the historic event, drawing in an audience of 12.8 million viewers.

On the fictional shows front, one programme rose far above the rest: Happy Valley, which was watched by 11.9 million people this year. Set in West Yorkshire, the BBC’s crime drama follows the feisty Sergeant Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire), and the pursuit against her nemesis, the notorious Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton). It was first aired back in 2014, followed by a second series in 2016 – but then fans had to wait seven years for a third. The much-anticipated third instalment finally arrived in January 2023, drawing in a whole new set of viewers, who went back and watched it from the beginning.

Generally, crime dramas were very popular this year: British-French series Death in Paradise and ITV’s Unforgotten also made the top 10.

Alison and Noel with Matty

Elsewhere, the list was dominated by reality shows. The Eurovision Song Contest came in third place, with 10.7 million viewers tuning in back in May to see Sweden’s Loreen taking the trophy with the song ‘Tattoo’. This was followed by The Great British Bake Off – which is always popular, but did particularly well this year, in part thanks to the arrival of beloved new presenter Alison Hammond.

I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! and Strictly Come Dancing – which both ended their 2023 series this month – made the list too, with a respective 9 million and 8.5 million viewers.

The most popular documentary of the year? David Attenborough’s Planet Earth III of course, which aired in October. His other 2023 series, Wild Isles – a look at the wonders of British wildlife – also made the list, drawing 8.2 million people.

Here’s the full list.

The UK’s Most Watched Shows of 2023

  1. King Charles and Queen Camilla’s Coronation: 12.8m
  2. Happy Valley: 11.9m
  3. Eurovision Song Contest: 10.7m
  4. The Great British Bake Off: 9.7m
  5. I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!: 9m
  6. Planet Earth III: 8.9m
  7. Strictly Come Dancing: 8.5m
  8. Death in Paradise: 8.3m
  9. Unforgotten: 8.2m
  10. Wild Isles: 8.2m