Entertainment

BBC coverage of Duke of Edinburgh funeral watched by almost 7 million

The corporation devoted almost four hours to the event.

The BBC’s coverage of the funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh was watched by an average of almost seven million people.

The corporation devoted almost four hours to the event, led by veteran broadcaster Huw Edwards.

Viewing peaked just after 3pm, as the ceremony started, with 11.3 million people tuning in, the BBC said.

The one-hour service, between 3pm and 4pm, was viewed by 11 million people on the BBC, 2.1 million on ITV, and around 450,000 on Sky, BBC News reported, citing figures from the official Barb overnight averages for the hour-long time slot.

The coverage, which drew an average of 6.6 million viewers, began at 12.30pm as Edwards was joined by guests including Sir David Attenborough, Gyles Brandreth and Alan Titchmarsh to share memories of the late duke, who died on April 9 at the age of 99.

Duke of Edinburgh funeral
The Queen takes her seat for the funeral (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Edwards concluded the coverage at 4.15pm, reflecting on a “deeply moving service,” including “a very dignified and sharp and stylish military procession which symbolised all that was vital and salient in the long life of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh”.

He added: “He now rests in peace in the royal vault beneath St George’s Chapel, having fought the good fight, having finished the race, and having kept the faith.”

Ahead of the event, Edwards wrote in the Spectator: “In four hours of live broadcasting, watched by an audience of millions, the focus is on accuracy and tone.

“Most of the people doling out advice online have – predictably – never been entrusted with such a duty. But thanks anyway.”

The corporation received 110,000 complaints about its coverage of Philip’s death, after it cleared its schedules and put mirrored coverage on BBC One, BBC Two and the news channel.

Duke of Edinburgh funeral
The coverage drew an average of 6.6 million viewers (Adrian Dennis/PA)

The complaints were the highest number ever published in the UK about television programming and made coverage of Philip’s death the most complained-about piece of programming in BBC history.

BBC Two did not air coverage of the funeral, instead showing the Snooker World Championship. The funeral was shown on the BBC News Channel.

ITV committed just over three hours to the funeral, anchored by Tom Bradby and Julie Etchingham and featuring guests including Philip’s goddaughter India Hicks.

Channel 4 showed episodes of reality show Four In A Bed, while Channel 5 aired the film A Knight’s Tale starring Heath Ledger.

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