Line of Duty named UK’s most-watched TV drama of the 21st century

·1-min read
Martin Compston as Steve Arnott in Line of Duty (BBC/World Productions)
Martin Compston as Steve Arnott in Line of Duty (BBC/World Productions)

Line of Duty has been named the UK’s most-watched drama series of the century so far after a record-breaking finale.

The hit BBC police drama finished airing its sixth series last month, with viewing figures for the finale being reported at the time as 12.8 million.

However, new data has taken into account those who recorded and watched the broadcast within a week of its initial airing. 

These consolidated ratings, published by audience research organisation Barb, place the final figure at 15.24 million.

According to PA, there are only a few programmes that have scored higher than 15 million viewers since the turn of the century.

The previous record-holder in the drama category was an episode of ITV’s Heartbeat in 2000 which drew 15.16 million viewers.

Line of Duty is now the highest-rated drama since a March 1999 episode of Touch of Frost, which managed a staggering 15.83 million viewers.

However, outside of drama, the Line of Duty finale still falls some way short of the biggest hitters.

The Great British Bake Off managed 15.9 million in October 2016, EastEnders drew 16.4 million in February 2010, Gavin & Stacey got 17.1 million in December 2019, and The X Factor reached 17.7 million in December 2010.

Since the divisive conclusion of Line of Duty’s sixth series, the prospect of a seventh remains uncertain, although fans largely expect the show will continue. 

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