Show which helped put Bristol on the map is most watched TV programme ever

15651867-largeIT might have been set on the mean streets of Peckham but Only Fools and Horses helped to Bristol on the map.

The much loved series, which was filmed in and around Bristol, has topped a chart of the most watched programmes in eight decades of British TV.

Nelson Mandela House was supposed to have been in London but in reality the high rise flat is just around the corner from Ashton Gate – the home of Bristol City.

And the Trotters brothers’ lock-up was also in the same part of south Bristol while Ashton Gate’s car park doubled as Peckham Market.

One of themost famous scenes in the long-running series where Del fell through an open bar top was filmed in the studio but the outside of the bar was The Granary in Welsh Back.

And the Nag’s Head boozer is actually the White Horse in Bedminster.

neslon-mandela-houseFamously when Del and Rodney ran through the streets of Peckham dressed as Batman and Robin they were in fact in Broadmead and the nearby Stokes Croft.

The most watched programme ever was shown in Christmas 1996 when Just over 24 million people tuned in to see David Jason’s Del Boy finally got rich after auctioning an antique watch.

It is the biggest audience ever recorded for a single transmission of a TV programme in Britain.

In all four episodes of Only Fools And Horses appear in the top 20, along with favourites such as Morecambe And Wise, Coronation Street and the Royal Variety Performance.

trottersBut there are no episodes of EastEnders, and nothing shown from the past 15 years.

The chart has been compiled to mark the 80th anniversary this week of the start of television in the UK.

The BBC launched the nation’s first regular TV service at 3pm on November 2 1936, broadcasting live from Alexandra Palace in north London.

Since then television in Britain has grown from one channel to more than 300, and the way we receive TV has evolved from an aerial on the roof to underground cables, satellite dishes and online.

del-boy-and-rodenyThe chart also boasts some surprising entries, such as an episode of The Benny Hill Show from 1979 and an edition of the Norwich-based quiz show Sale Of The Century from 1977 hosted by Nicholas Parsons.

Here is the top 20 in full:

1. Only Fools And Horses (BBC1, December 29 1996): 24.35 million

2. To The Manor Born (BBC1, November 11 1979): 23.95 million

3. The Royal Variety Performance (ITV, November 19 1967): 22.80 million

4. Panorama (BBC1, November 20 1995): 22.77 million

5. The Royal Variety Performance (ITV, November 14 1965): 21.70 million

6. Dallas (BBC1, November 22 1980): 21.60 million

7. To The Manor Born (BBC1, November 9 1980): 21.55 million

8. The Mike Yarwood Christmas Show (BBC1, December 25 1977): 21.40 million

= Coronation Street (ITV, January 2 1985): 21.40 million

10. Only Fools And Horses (BBC1, December 25 2001): 21.35 million

11. Only Fools And Horses (BBC1, December 27 1996): 21.33 million

12. Only Fools And Horses (BBC1, December 25 1996): 21.31 million

13. The Morecambe And Wise Christmas Show (BBC1, December 25 1977): 21.30 million

14. The Royal Variety Performance (ITV, November 10 1963): 21.20 million

= The Silver Jubilee Royal Variety Gala (ITV, December 4 1977): 21.20 million

16. Bread (BBC1, December 11 1988): 20.95 million

17. The Benny Hill Show (ITV, March 14 1979): 20.85 million

18. Coronation Street (ITV, December 18 1980): 20.80 million

19. Just Good Friends (BBC1, December 21 1986): 20.75 million

20. Sale Of The Century (ITV, November 19 1977) 20.60 million

= Coronation Street (ITV, January 9 1985): 20.60 million

= Coronation Street (ITV, January 16 1985): 20.60 million

:: The chart was compiled using figures from the Broadcasters Audience Research Board (Barb) and historic data held in the British Film Institute archive.

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