March 15

Royal TV ratings

…Royal Programme rating success…


We hate to annoy the assorted curmudgeons at the SRRR, the Society of Republican Royal Watchers, but Channel 9’s decision to broadcast “A Year with the Royal Family” over six evenings has proved an enormous success.

The cumulative number of viewers was 6,448,000*, an average audience of 1,074,000 viewers for each broadcast. The last such national broadcast by Channel 9 was on 10 March 2008 attracted 1,069, 000 viewers. It was, as the ratings experts say, a winner. And as we note below, Channel 9 is not abandoning royal watchers.

I wonder whether the SRRR could point to a programme about Australian republicanism which has or could attract a similar audience.

We have long been arguing that the commercial networks should put on good royal programmes. The cost is low, the ratings and advertising opportunities high, and the ABC overall seems to have abandoned its role as national broadcaster.

If the ABC continues to follow the instructions of a churlish republican minority, they will be the losers. In the meantime the commercial networks will be the winners.

In the meantime an edited-down two hour version of this series was shown on US ABC on 3 March,2008.  This was for its long-running current affairs programme, “ 20/20.”  

It not only attracted its largest audience in five years, according to Dave West of Digital Spy, it attracted an impressive 14.2m viewers and beat the final episode of Fox's high profile Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. 

Back in Australia Channel 9, fresh from its triumph over this series,  has already scheduled another programme, “William and Kate – A Royal Romance” at 730pm on Monday, 17 March, 2008.

…The Tudors…


And on cable and satellite TV, the Showcase Channel on Foxtel is broadcasting a series which has had a formidable success in the US. This is “The Tudors,” an Irish Canadian co-production filmed in Ireland.

First shown in 2007 in the US, it was the highest rated Showtime series debut in three years. It was so successful, it was renewed for a second season.

The BBC has acquired exclusive United Kingdom broadcast rights for the series, which it began airing on 5 October 2007. Canada's CBC, began airing the show on 2 October 2007.

We assume that the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is apparently not interested.

The series has an excellent website, with an excellent and very honest table of historical inaccuracies. (As you might expect, certain liberties were taken with the script).

The cast is superb, with Jonathan Reys Meyers as Henry VIII, Jeremy Northam as Sir Thomas More, Sam Neill as Cardinal Wolsey, Maria Doyle Kennedy as Queen Katherine of Aragon, Natalie Domer as Anne Boleyn,  and Henry Cavill as Charles Brandon.

This is creating great interest among younger audiences in the Tudor period in the US, ( where cable television has a larger audience) the UK and Canada. This is one way to encourage an understanding of our history, and the curious, and those given assignments will be no doubt interested in tracking down the extent to which the series is historically accurate .


We award a Crown to Channel 9 and Foxtel Showcase, and a mace to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

*[The ratings were 4 Feb 1,330,000; 11 Feb 1,067,000; 18 Feb 1,055,000; 25 Feb, 968,000; 3 March, 959,000; 10 March, 1,069,000; cumulative viewers, 6,448,000; average, 1,074,000.]



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