Nothing could beat the Royal Wedding for pomp, pageantry and plain old-fashioned romance. And nothing could beat its TV ratings either.
The marriage of William and Kate was watched by 26.2million television viewers across BBC1, ITV1, BBC News channel and Sky, the biggest audience of 2011.
It was the BBC’s coverage which won the biggest share of viewers on the day with 13.4million, more than three times that of ITV.
The total figure for the Royal Wedding is thought to be the tenth biggest audience in history, although still well behind the 28.4 million who watched Prince Charles and Lady Diana’s wedding in 1981.
Figures of the most watched programmes of 2011 reveal the nation is still glued to reality and talent shows.
More than a third of the top 20 most popular programmes were of this type.
The X Factor final was the most watched show on a single channel with 13.7 million seeing Little Mix win the contest on ITV, taking into account those watching on catch-up television such as time-shifted channels or digital recorders.
But the ratings for the Sunday night finale were still its lowest for four years, with critics suggesting the new judging panel, which saw Simon Cowell replaced by Gary Barlow, while Cheryl Cole and Dannii Minogue make way for rap singer Tulisa Contostavlos, and American star Kelly Rowland, had less of a rapport with the audience.
The finals of ITV’s other big reality shows Britain’s Got Talent and I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! were also in the top five, with audiences of 12.5million and 12.2million respectively.
Audience figures for the talent show were helped by scandal after it allegations 12-year-old singing schoolboy Ronan Parke was already known to producers emerged in the final few days of the competition.
Rival singer Jai McDowell went on to win the show.
Finals for The Apprentice, Dancing on Ice and Strictly Come Dancing as well as one-off shows such as the Eurovision Song Contest, Comic Relief and Children In Need also made the top 20.
My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding was Channel 4’s only show on the list, with a peak audience of 8.5 million. It was a surprise hit for the channel.
The programme, which followed the lives of gypsies and travellers in the UK and laid bare their customs and traditions, was the surprise hit of the year.
The Valentine’s Day edition of Coronation Street in which the wedding of Peter Barlow and Leanne Battersby falls into disarray was the most watched episode of a soap this year.
Downton Abbey confirmed its place in the heart of the nation’s viewing habits with more than 10million viewers.