In the most unsurprising news of the year, it’s been confirmed that we all watched a heck of a lot of telly during lockdown. With all plans and events cancelled, the world moved online in the form of virtual quizzes, virtual festivals and, yes, a lot of telly-watching happened, too.
BBC iPlayer had its best ever first half of the year, with viewing figures reported to be up 49 per cent on 2019 with a record-breaking 3.1 billion requests to stream programmes between January and June this year.
But what exactly were we all watching while we were holed up at home? When we weren’t picking up new crafty hobbies or baking banana bread, it seems there were two series in particular that us Brits were glued to. Taking the top spot was the third season of Killing Eve, the dark comedy spy thriller staring Sandra Oh as investigator Eve Polastri and Jodie Comer as the murderous Villanelle. Featuring one of the most high-stakes cat and mouse chases on TV, the first episode of the new season, ‘Slowly Slowly Catchy Monkey’, was watched 6.95 million times.
Not far behind was the runaway success of the screen adaptation of Sally Rooney’s novel, Normal People, which follows the on-again-off-again relationship of Connell and Marianne.
In fact, every entry in the top 10 most popular episodes on iPlayer for the first six months of the year was either a Killing Eve or Normal People episode.
Other top contenders included dramas The Nest, Dracula and The Split, comedy series This Country and reality show Race Across the World. Boxsets of old favourites have also fared well from January to June this year, with nostalgic series like Waterloo Road and My Family proving popular, as well contemporary dramas such has Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You and The Luminaries also getting plenty of viewing time.
Controller of BBC iPlayer Dan McGolpin said: ‘In a year full of challenges, BBC iPlayer has entertained us, connected us to events like the virtual Glastonbury and the restarted football season, broadened our horizons through Culture in Quarantine, educated our younger family members through BBC Bitesize and all the while kept us informed of the latest news from around the globe.’