Bodyguard becomes iPlayer's most-watched show ever

Nearly 11 million viewers watched the hit drama on the BBC streaming service in 2018.

Bodyguard edged out Killing Eve to become iPlayer’s biggest show of 2018 and the streaming service’s most-watched programme ever.

The first episode of the hit series starring Richard Madden and Keeley Hawes was watched 10,842,000 times – more than any other programme on the BBC service over a 12-month period.

Nice Face – the first episode of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s spy thriller – was watched 9,235,000 times, making it the second most-watched episode of the year.

BBC iPlayer biggest show of 2018
Bodyguard was the biggest show of the year on BBC iPlayer (Des Willie/BBC/PA)

A total of 3.6 billion programmes were requested on iPlayer last year, according to BBC data.

McMafia, the James Norton-starring gangsta drama, was 2018’s third most-watched programme, with its first episode earning 4,741,000 viewers.

Jodie Whittaker’s debut as the 13th timelord in Doctor Who was fourth, with The Woman That Fell To Earth being watched by 3,965,000 people.

Welsh-language drama Keeping Faith took fifth place, with its debut being watched by 3,927,000 people in the same time period.

Killing Eve
Villanelle, played by Jodie Comer, in the forthcoming second season of Killing Eve (Aimee Spinks/BBC America/PA)

The list ranked the shows according to each series’ most-watched episode. Ranked purely by the number of people who tuned in, six of the year’s top 10 episodes were from Bodyguard and the other four from Killing Eve.

The figures, compiled by the BBC, log the number of “requests” made by viewers to watch episodes on iPlayer.

This means the figures indicate how many times people pressed play on an episode and do not show how much of the episode they watched.

Controller of programming for the BBC Dan McGolpin said: “In 2018 we saw people who use iPlayer increasing the amount of time that they spend watching programmes on it.

James Norton stars in McMafia, which made the top five (Matt Crossick/PA)

“Over the last 12 months viewers have enjoyed an increased number of box sets, along with other upgrades such as a selection of live Ultra HD programmes and increased personalisation,” he said.

“In a fiercely competitive market, with global streaming companies investing more and more in content, the challenge for 2019 is how to ensure that audiences can enjoy the full range and breadth of BBC programmes on iPlayer.”

December was an especially strong month for iPlayer, with a total of 298 million plays and an average of 9.6 million a day.

The month’s most-watched programme was Mrs Wilson, which stars Ruth Wilson playing her grandmother.

The first episode was watched 2.1 million times, beating The Apprentice’s Christmas Chocolate episode which received 1.8 million plays.

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