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Coronation Street

Up to date as of January 31, 2010

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Viewing Figures are the number of viewers or households watching a television programme at any given time. Such figures are vital to commercial organisations such as ITV as they are the basis on which they charge other companies for advertisement slots although they are just as important to the BBC in that high audience figures remain an important political argument for the justification and continuation of the licence fee system.



Today all UK audience figures are based on readings from meters fixed to a sample set of televisions across the country and the information they collate being published to show a television chart ranking. This process is overseen by BARB (Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board) who were set up jointly by the BBC and the then ITV group of companies and began operating on 1st August 1981. Prior to this the BBC conducted its own audience research while the separate ITV companies sub-contracted out the task to other organisations, in the main TAM (Total Audience Measurement) and AC Neilson. With the change to the ITV network in 1968, when stations such as Associated Rediffusion were dropped and new stations such as Thames Television and London Weekend Television began, the independent stations joined forces to form JICTAR (Joint Industry Committee for Television Advertising Research) and their first contract for collating the data passed to AGB – today AGB Neilson, who still collate the data for the entire UK industry, BBC now included, on BARB's behalf to this day.

It should be noted that prior to the establishment of BARB, not only did BBC and ITV collect audience data separately but they collected and collated it using totally different methods. The BBC did not use meter readings but instead used audience questionnaires based on the memory of the sample they chose. They then published their data as millions of viewers. TAM/AGB used meter readings and published the data as millions of homes viewing. This latter measurement method changed on 1st August 1977 and the generally accepted conversion ratio is 2.2 viewers to one home (BFI). Therefore the first episode of Coronation Street to make the charts (Episode 25 on 6th March 1961) was watched by 5,883,000 million homes which equates to 12,942,600 viewers.

Because there were several sets of audience research taking place at any one time prior to 1981 there is no set of audience data for years prior to that date which is regarded as definitive for the industry overall. The figures used on this website are in the form as originally published i.e. homes until 1977 and viewers thereafter, and are sourced from contemporary television industry magazines, primarily Television Mail (which changed its name to Broadcast in March 1973) and on occasion The Stage and Television Today. It should be noted that Television Mail initially published only a top 10 until the middle of 1961 and it is possible early episodes of Coronation Street appeared in positions 11 to 20 of the national chart. After August 1981, when BARB was established, a chart of the top ten programmes for each television channel was published however the BBC objected to the number of viewers for each of these programmes being issued to the press (mainly because it would highlight the low number of viewers for the BBC in comparison to ITV at that time). Therefore, from August until January 1982, BARB published a top ten weekly ranking without audience numbers for each channel and the top twenty (soon changed to the top fifty programmes) for all channels combined for the month which did show the audience numbers. As Coronation Street was one of the most popular programmes on ITV, the vast majority of its episodes appeared within this listing and can be successfully combined with the channel rankings to continue to produce an accurate history of the programme's place in the charts. From February 1982, BARB and the BBC capitulated to the protests of ITV and the Fleet Street newspapers and, while continuing to produce a weekly top ten of programmes by channel, also published audience figures for each of those programmes.

Coronation Street 's history in the charts

Coronation Street’s presence in the charts was not instant but the programme did ascend the rankings in the spring and summer of 1961. A high point for the programme was in 1962 when in fifty of the fifty-two weeks of that year one of the episodes shown was in first place. The numbers slowly declined for the rest of the 1960s and early 1970s although they never reached the levels claimed by Daran Little in his 2000 book 40 Years of Coronation Street when he said that Episode 1264 on 26th February 1973 was watched by only 8.3 million viewers. In fact 7.1 million homes saw that episode and in that year Coronation Street reached the number one spot in seven weeks and only failed to make the top twenty on three occasions – all of them public holidays when people’s viewing habits are less consistent.

The programme slowly re-climbed the ratings in the late 1970s and again dominated the charts in the early to mid-1980s. Although Crossroads had achieved high ratings in the mid to late 1970s (after Granada starting broadcasting it from 11th September 1972, thereby ensuring it was fully networked for the first time) the first real competition came when the BBC launched EastEnders in February 1985. Quickly popular, it ascended the charts and reached the number one position in late 1985 however the media and the BBC ignored Granada’s quite accurate claim that the numbers were distorted as they combined the original showing of the episode and the Sunday omnibus repeat to produce one figure. In particular, Bill Podmore complained to the Daily Express and BARB in January 1986 after Michael Grade, then controller of BBC1, crowed that if the Christmas battle of the soaps had been a boxing match it would have been "stopped by the referee". Podmore's complaint was that the figures that the press concentrated on for EastEnders were 23.40 and 23.55 million for the week's two episodes when the actual figure for the first showing of each instalment, aside from the omnibus, was only 15.4 and 15.2 mllion respectively against Coronation Street 's 16.2 million for the episode shown on 23rd December (although it was conceded that the Christmas Day episode only gained 12.45 million). The press, suspected to have a pro-London bias, remained concentrated on the combined figures and EastEnders ' success. Until 22nd January 1989 Coronation Street did not have an omnibus edition but when it did, combined with the popular Alan Bradley storyline, the programme regained pole position. To this day, Coronation Street and EastEnders jockey for position for the number one spot on most weeks of the year.


The only major change in the viewing figures since the programme made its first entry in the charts in 1961 is the importance of the Christmas edition. Quite often in the first two decades of the programme an edition shown on a public holiday, especially Christmas Day, was the lowest rated episode of the year, almost always not even making the top twenty. Probably for this reason only one episode of the programme - in 1972 - was shown on 25th December in the 1970s. In 1974 and 1978 no episode was shown on that date, even though Christmas Day fell on a normal Coronation Street transmission day. Public taste, and the broadcaster’s reaction to it, changed forever in 1986 when EastEnders’ episode on Christmas Day of that year gained over 30 million viewers – a record (although as noted above, this figure combined the omnibus numbers from the repeat a few days later). Coronation Street gained the honours the next year with almost 27 million viewers watching the departure of Hilda Ogden – a number also achieved with a one-off omnibus repeat. With the exception of 1993 an episode has been shown on Christmas Day each year since.

Annual rankings

The table below summaries the chart rankings for Coronation Street for each year since 1961 when the programme first appeared in the charts.

1) As stated above, TAM published only a top ten until mid-1961 and it is possible that Coronation Street appeared on other unrecorded occasions in that year. For this reason no figure is given for the "Eps o/s top 20" column for that year
2) “Lowest Rated” episode refers to the lowest published number within the top twenty – as stated above, there were other episodes which failed to make the top twenty and whose audience figure is unknown.
3) 1962 and 1965 have more episodes at the No. 1 position than there are weeks in a year as there were several weeks when both the Monday and Wednesday episode were both in first position with the same number of homes watching. They are therefore both counted within the number given.


Episodes as "Millions of Homes" (1961 - July 1977)

Year No. of eps Eps at No.1 Highest figure Lowest figure Eps o/s top 20
1961 102 13 7,491,000
29th November
7th August
1962 105 57 8,868,000
8th October
11th June
1963 104 49 9,170,000
18th November
5th August
1964 105 41 9,710,000
12th October
3rd August
1965 104 56 9,660,000
20th January
4th October
1966 104 22 9,050,000
26th October
20th July
25th July
1967 103 27 9,450,000
4th September
28th August
1968 103 32 8,700,000
8th January
24th July
1969 104 16 8,350,000
26th February
28th July
1970 96 24 8,850,000
18th February
25th May
1971 104 21 8,650,000
8th February
30th August
1972 104 0 8,300,000
5th April
26th July
1973 105 7 8,250,000
17th October
27th August
1974 103 5 8,300,000
20th March
26th August
1975 102 2 8,750,000
29th January
25th August
1976 104 1 8,800,000
7th April
18th August
1977 60 9 9,500,000
20th April
6th July

Episodes as "Millions of Viewers" (August 1977 onwards)

1) No figures are known for the week of 10th March to 16th March 1980.
2) From August 1981, BARB produced a top ten for each channel instead of a national top twenty.
3) All chart placings from 1985 onwards take into account the combined figures of first showing and omnibus repeat of episodes of EastEnders as published by BARB. From 1989, when Coronation Street began its own regular omnibus, to October 1991 BARB published separate figures for both showings of all episodes of these programmes (and Neighbours) but based its overall chart placing on the combined figures. The table below follows this convention. Combined figures were published until the end of 2001 when the figures given reverted back to being for the first single showing.
4) Data for 1991 and 1992 is incomplete and this may affect the accuracy of the table below.

Year No. of eps Eps at No.1 Highest figure Lowest figure Eps o/s top 10/20
1977 44 0 16,600,000
28th November
3rd August
1978 103 8 20,450,000
20th December
21st August
1979 83 11 19,500,000
14th March
6th August
1980 105 14 19,000,000
3rd December
23rd July
1981 104 32 20,800,000
18th February
25th May
1982 104 36 18,950,000
6th January
4th August
1983 104 48 18,450,000
23rd February
26th December
1984 105 38 20,449,000
14th November
27th August
1985 105 32 21,400,000
2nd January
29th May
1986 105 1 22,750,000
18th June
16th June
1987 105 1 26,650,000
25th December
4th May
1988 104 0 18,150,000
4th January
15th June
1989 115 45 26,930,000
15th March
2nd August
1990 157 45 22,830,000
1st January
14th September
1991 157 20 21,600,000
20th November
25th December
1992 157 27 21,600,000
8th January
26th June
1993 157 51 20,730,000
22nd March
28th June
1994 157 46 19,680,000
14th February
25th December
1995 156 44 19,440,000
9th January
8th May
1996 163 45 19,800,000
28th February
14th June
1997 209 43 18,030,000
17th November
25th May
1998 208 43 20,300,000
18th November
9th August
1999 210 25 19,840,000
7th March
18th July
2000 216 21 19,060,000
3rd January
30th July
2001 224 3 18,140,000
23rd May
10th August
2002 223 34 15,010,000
17th November
3rd June
2003 248 37 19,430,000
24th February
13th July
2004 269 46 16,330,000
16th February
4th July

(To be completed...)

Viewing figures for related broadcasts

Besides the regular episodes of Coronation Street, up to the end of 1991, the following programmes also made the weekly charts.

This article uses material from the "Viewing Figures" article on the Coronation Street wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.


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