Belfast Telegraph

Argentina Top Gear tops BBC iPlayer

The controversial Top Gear special which saw the presenters visiting Argentina was the most popular show on the BBC iPlayer over Christmas, new figures show.

The first part of the Patagonia show had almost 2.1 million requests from viewers, as the BBC reported a 25% rise in the use of the catch-up service compared with the previous December.

However the second episode - in which the production team had to flee Argentina after ill feeling grew over their presence - was only the third most popular Christmas week show with 1.5 million requests.

The finale of the two-parter also drew an average audience of 4.8 million when it was screened on December 28, according to overnight ratings.

Top Gear provoked local anger after it was felt the number plate of a Porsche being driven by Jeremy Clarkson - which read H982 FKL - was a provocative reference to the 1982 Falklands conflict. The programme makers have maintained the lettering on the number plate was an unfortunate coincidence.

The second most-watched Christmas show on the iPlayer was EastEnders with nearly 1.7 million requests.

December saw 227 million iPlayer requests to view shows, while the 54.5 million during Christmas week was the highest ever one-week figure.

Victoria Jaye, head of TV content for the BBC iPlayer, said: "Christmas on the BBC is an incredibly special time of year, with our broadcast schedules bursting with amazing shows.

"It's also the time of year when we see a significant surge in BBC iPlayer usage, as people all over the country unwrap new devices and take the opportunity to enjoy our terrific range of programmes, at a time that suits them."

The top 10 iPlayer requests were as follows:

1. Top Gear Patagonia Special part 1 - 2,078,700

2. EastEnders (25/12) - 1,689,400

3. Top Gear Patagonia Special part 2 - 1,553,700

4. EastEnders (26/12) - 1,432,900

5. The Apprentice - Final/You're Hired - 1,309,200

6. Miranda: I Do, But To Who? - 1,263,700

7. EastEnders (23/12) - 1,147,100

8. EastEnders (24/12) - 1,107,900

9. Doctor Who: Last Christmas - 1,069,400

10. The Boy in the Dress - 1,058,300

The latest "consolidated" viewing figures for the Top Gear special which include live viewing and time-shift recordings - but not iPlayer - show that the first part had a total of 7.2 million TV viewers, while the second had 7.4 million.

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