UKTV has reported a “year of record growth in 2021” with its original commissions now leading the charge.

UKTV Originals accounted for six of the top 10 shows in 2021. Annika became Alibi’s top performing title of all time (1.32m Total Consumption). It was joined by Meet the Richardsons (Dave) Secrets of the London Underground (Yesterday), Hornby: A Model World (Yesterday), Bangers and Cash (Yesterday) and Mel Giedroyc: Unforgivable (Dave).

Dave enjoyed success with a string of new and returning commissions. Meet the Richardsons S2 (1m), Mel Giedroyc: Unforgivable (801k), Late Night Mash (489k) and Outsiders(530k) all placed in the top five shows on the channel, alongside QI XL.

On Yesterday, UKTV originals accounted for the top five shows on the channel, including the launch of Secrets of the London Underground which become the highest rating show in the history of the channel, averaging 737k across the series. Hornby: A Model World was a close runner up representing Yesterday’s second biggest launch to date and attracting 754k (partial TC) across its series run. Bangers and Cash S4, Secrets of the Transport Museum and The Architecture the Railways Built S2 rounded out the top five shows on the channel.

Alibi continued to ramp up its drama commissioning credentials with Black Camel’s Annika, starring Nicola Walker, becoming UKTV’s most successful show of 2021, and Sid Gentle’s dark drama Ragdoll, watched by 487k to date (partial Total Consumption). Acquisitions also performed well on the channel, with standout performances from Hudson and Rex S3(591k), Smother (525k) and Deception (424k).

On Gold The Vicar of Dibley: Inside Out, became the channel’s most popular show of the year, watched by 829k. Scripted original, Murder, They Hope took the second spot (687k), followed by returning scripted series The Cockfields (490k). The Cockfields Christmas Special and Sandylands S2 also delivered in the channel’s top 10 shows of the year, alongside BBC classics Mrs Brown’s Boys and Vicar of Dibley.

On W, MasterChef Australia (305K) and UKTV Originals Stacey Dooley Sleeps Over S2 (477k) and Emma Willis: Delivering Babies in 2020 (346k) were in the top five shows on the channel.

The broadcaster achieved its best-ever SOCI (share of commercial impacts) and network share for its seven channel portfolio – Dave, Drama, Gold, Yesterday, W, Eden and Alibi – and growing views to its on demand service UKTV Play.

UKTV‘s CEO, Marcus Arthur, said: “UKTV experienced strong growth in 2020 and to continue that momentum through 2021 is an incredible achievement. Our award-winning slate of UKTV Originals keeps going from strength to strength, with originations featuring six times in the top 10 shows across the network. UKTV’s drama commissioning has also reached new heights, with critically acclaimed Annika breaking records on Alibi, and shows such as Ragdoll exciting audiences in the UK and internationally. And of course, our hit originals are supported by premiere acquisitions and the very best BBC content, helping to fuel the success of our channels, with Dave winning Channel of the Year at the Broadcast Digital Awards.

“In 2021 we also launched UKTV’s new digital content strategy with bespoke short-form commissions airing on Dave’s YouTube channel and Facebook page, acting as a gateway for younger viewers to engage with the brand and access our shows.

“As we look forward to 2022, we will continue UKTV’s growth trajectory by working closely with domestic and international production partners, investing smartly in content, and expanding the footprint of our much-loved brands.”

UKTV achieved a record network SOCI of 8.52% in 2021, with 5.7% year-on-year growth. Ten out of the 12 months of the year showed record SOCI (February, March, April, June, July, August, September, October, November and December) with Drama leading the channel pack by achieving SOCI growth of 14.1%.

UKTV’s seven channel network grew its viewing share by 4% in 2021 to 4.80% (up from 4.63% in 2020), marking UKTV’s highest share to date for its current portfolio of channels. Drama also celebrated its best year on record, with adult share up 11% and ABC1’s up 14% year-on-year. Gold was up 7% on its 2020 share and enjoyed its biggest Q1 and summer since 2013. Alibi also saw a 5% uplift in share.

Dave increased its 16-34 viewing share by 14% year-on-year, helped by strong launches for a wave of new comedy entertainment shows which have seen Mel Giedroyc, Richard Ayoade and David Mitchell join Big Zuu and others on the channel.

Richard Watsham, UKTV’s Director of Commissioning, said: “I’m enormously grateful to our production partners and talent who’ve continued to raise the quality of our shows in all genres, despite the constraints of Covid. They’ve helped us take significant steps in creating a more diverse output, while also embracing our All Voices initiative to create opportunities behind the camera. 

“With their help, Dave has had a stunning period and the Channel of the Year Award speaks to a transformed channel which is well placed to grow. The originations strategy on Yesterday continues to build at pace with commissions accounting for the top five shows on the channel. Nicola Walker’s drama, Annika, became the best performing show in Alibi’s history, and for the third year in a row, Emma Willis: Delivering Babies won a Broadcast Digital Award for Popular Factual. A truly extraordinary achievement.

“As we enter 2022, the network’s increasing share, backed by BBC favourites and smart third party acquisitions, provides a fantastic platform from which to launch our broadest ever slate of commissions. We’ll see the first comedies from Dave’s diverse writers’ initiative as well as digital and short form scaling up, giving us a more holistic approach to new talent development. More than ever, both linear and digital, new talent and established faces, acquired and commissioned content are all pulling together to take UKTV into the next stage of its growth.” 


Jon Creamer

Share this story

Share Televisual stories within your social media posts.
Be inclusive: is open access without the need to register.
Anyone and everyone can access this post with minimum fuss.