These were the most popular TV shows on BBC iPlayer this year

Feel like you’ve watched more TV than ever this year? Well, there’s not much else to do when it’s dark and cold – oh, and when you’ve been stuck in a lockdown for months, too. There were particular shows that really stole the spotlight in 2021, from BBC dramas like Line of Duty to Netflix hits such as Bridgerton and Squid Game.

The BBC has now revealed what it’s most popular TV shows were on BBC iPlayer this year, and we’re not surprised to see Line of Duty took the top spot. The police-based drama was all anyone could talk about for weeks, with viewers desperate to work out who ‘H’ was.

Line of Duty
BBC Pictures

Line of Duty was streamed more than 137 million times, with the first episode of series six racking up 9.2 million streams. Consolidated figures show that same first episode was watched by a whopping 14.6 million people in the first 28 days since it was aired. Those impressive figures mean it was more popular than other big TV events like the Olympics coverage and Doctor Who.

It seems we can’t get enough of police drama TV shows, as the first episode of Vigil was BBC iPlayer’s second most popular episode. The drama, which stars Suranne Jones as a police detective, was streamed 8 million times this year. Yet another police drama, Bloodlands, was watched by 10 million people within the first 28 days.

Euro 2020 final England team
Getty Images

The Euros feels like a lifetime ago now, but the 2020 football final placed fifth in the list. There were 6 million streams of the final Euros match between England and Italy, in which England lost on penalties.

The first episodes of Time, The Serpent and The Pact also made the top 10 BBC iPlayer streams between 1 January and 30 November.


We’ve still got a lot of love for soaps, as figures show EastEnders was streamed a huge 257 million times across the year (when figures were reported), which is almost 100 million more times than the same period last year.

All in all, BBC iPlayer is set for a record-breaking 6 billion streams in 2021 – over half a million more than 2020.