Boris Johnson’s address to the public last night will go down as a pivotal moment in the country’s history—and the briefing proved to be the most viewed TV broadcast in years.
The Prime Minister’s coronavirus statement was broadcast simultaneously on the major channels and drew in 15.4 million viewers on BBC One, in addition to 5.5 million on ITV and a further 1.5 million on Channel 4.
In addition, a total of 4 million people watched it on the BBC News Channel and Sky News—bringing the total viewer count to 26.5 million.
That total means that the statement was the most viewed broadcast in the UK in over 30 years—since the EastEnders New Year’s Day episode in 1987—and the first to top 20 million viewers since England’s World Cup semi-final with Croatia in 2018.
Johnson used his statement to urge the British public not to leave their homes, save for a small number of exceptional circumstances, including buying essential supplies, attending to medical needs and taking part in daily exercise.
He added that travel to work was also permitted—so long as that work was considered “essential”.
The coronavrius pandemic is currently sweeping the entertainment industry, with many film and TV show productions shut down and delayed around the globe.