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Ratings victory a cakewalk for BBC1 with 31 out of 40 top programmes in 2016

BBC1 is on course for a decisive victory over ITV in the battle for the year's biggest ratings, thanks to hit series such as The Great British Bake Off, Planet Earth II and Strictly Come Dancing.

More than three-quarters of the top 40 most-watched programmes so far in 2016 were broadcast by BBC1.

This includes the Bake Off final, which is at number one in the chart with 16 million viewers.

The figures were hailed by BBC content boss Charlotte Moore as evidence of how BBC1 "continues to unite us as a nation with shows that feel modern, fresh and in touch with our audience".

A total of 31 of the top 40 were broadcast by BBC1 while just nine were on ITV.

Last year the split was 28 for BBC1 and 12 for ITV.

The chart has been compiled by the Press Association from data produced by the Broadcasters' Audience Research Board (Barb).

Every episode of this year's The Great British Bake Off is on the list, with nine inside the top 10.

All but one episode of the blockbuster natural history series Planet Earth II is in the top 40, with the highest episode coming eighth in the chart with 13.1 million viewers.

BBC1's coverage of the Euro 2016 final also makes the list, as does the one-off episode of Sherlock shown on New Year's Day.

But it is Strictly Come Dancing that dominates the chart, appearing a total of 13 times.

ITV's highest entry is the first episode of this year's series of I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!, which is at number 12 with 12.7 million viewers.

Britain's Got Talent appears five times in the chart - but for the second year in a row The X Factor has failed to make the top 40.

Ms Moore said: "BBC1 has dominated viewing in 2016 with outstanding programmes in every genre demonstrating the strength of the channel across the whole year.

"BBC1's success is a credit to all the programme-makers involved and I'd like to thank them all - from the biggest ever series of Bake Off and Strictly, to the awe-inspiring Planet Earth II, Sherlock, Call The Midwife and the Euro 2016 final.

"I'm proud that BBC1 continues to unite us as a nation with shows that feel modern, fresh and in touch with our audience entertaining millions every week of the year."

Next year's chart is likely to look very different, however, as the BBC will be without Bake Off - which has been snapped up by Channel 4 - and Planet Earth.

There are also few big sporting events for either channel to broadcast.

One show missing from this year's top 40 is the final of Strictly Come Dancing, as full ratings data is not yet available. But its addition to the chart would not change the split between 31 BBC programmes and nine for ITV.

Any other broadcast hoping to make the top 40 before the end of the year would need to attract an audience of at least 11.1 million.

No programme has topped 11 million viewers over Christmas since 2013.

:: The top 40 was compiled using Barb's consolidated ratings data. All figures for ITV include the ITV HD and ITV+1 channels.

Responding to the figures, an ITV spokeswoman said the channel had broadcast the most-watched soap opera of the year (Coronation Street), the highest-rated current affairs programme (Tonight) and seven of the top 10 biggest new dramas - including Victoria which enjoyed an average audience of 7.7 million.

The channel also said that the ratings for England's Euro 2016 match against Iceland, when measured just between kick-off and the final whistle, averaged 15.2 million viewers.

Using the same method (ignoring pre and post-match coverage), ITV quoted a figure of 13.8 million for England's Euro 2016 clash with Slovenia.

The Press Association's top 40 uses data only published by Barb - the industry standard for measuring television audiences - and does not include figures calculated separately by TV channels.

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