It was the most British of weekends – pomp, pageantry and a remarkable display of stiff upper lips, through wind and rain, as the nation celebrated Queen Elizabeth II’s 60 years on the throne.
But there was another great British tradition on display this long weekend: that of watching pomp, pageantry and said remarkable display of stiff upper lips, through wind and rain, on the telly.
Yep, forget The Voice final, The Apprentice final and England playing football – the British TV viewing public favoured all things royal this weekend…
BBC1 started the ball rolling on Friday 1 June as 7.3 million people (34% share) tuned in to see A Jubilee Tribute to the Queen by the Prince of Wales between 8pm and 9pm.
And the royal plates kept spinning on ITV1 for a further hour as 4.9 million (23% share) regal enthusiasts switched channels to enjoy Elizabeth: Queen, Wife, Mother, presented by Alan Titchmarsh (Britain's favourite TV gardener/royal interviewer) from 9pm.
Saturday was a slow day for royal viewers, with not much on TV beyond the Queen’s visit to the Epsom Derby (BBC1, 12:50 - 4:25pm, 1.8m/20%) to keep the corgi from the door. And perhaps this was for the best, allowing ratings repellent The Voice to bounce back with 7.1 million for its finale, even though 5 million shunned the singing contest to watch England play Belgium on ITV1.
But just as republicans thought it was safe to switch the telly back on, Sunday delivered a huge victory for the monarchy with the sodden Thames Jubilee River Pageant (BBC1, 1:30pm – 6:10pm) drawing a whopping average audience of 10.3m (56% share). And even if it did attract thousands of complaints for being a bit rubbish, oh, what Danny Cohen would have paid for those kind of ratings for The Voice…
But there was more, as Gary Barlow: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service crowned off proceedings for BBC1 with an audience of 6.4 million viewers (28% share) at 7:40pm. Indeed, such was the popularity of the Take That man’s film, it drew a larger audience than The Apprentice final, which only tempted 6.1 million people (25% share) to tune in later that evening.
ITV1 also prospered on Sunday night as All the Queen's Horses: A Diamond Jubilee Special (6:30pm – 8:30pm) drew a handsome 3.7 million viewers to the commercial broadcaster - a 17% share.
But it was to be Monday when the nation gathered together on their sofas in the greatest numbers to celebrate 60 years of HRH QEII. Gary Barlow’s Diamond Jubilee Concert, starring the likes of Paul McCartney, Elton John, and, erm, JLS wowed 14.7 million viewers between 7:30pm and 10:45pm (57% share).
And although this musical tribute to her Majesty was the peak of televisual excitement over the Jubilee weekender, it didn't signal the end of the festivities. Nearly five million tuned in to BBC1 to see the Jubilee Service on Tuesday morning (and a couple of million more on ITV), before 6.2 million watched the carriage procession later in the day with Auntie herself.
A Jubilee smorgasbord of royal TV treats was topped off with a friendly face from the Commonwealth, as Rolf Harris proved to be a big “draw” (haha) with 4.2 million watching him draw the Jubilee on BBC1 on Tuesday evening.
So what have we learned? Well, people like the Queen more than The Voice and England friendlies (not really news, that), bad weather makes people watch telly (even river pageants), and if you want to get people watching TV, have a big pop concert… it works every time.
God bless the ratings!