You Know, For Kids: The 20 Most Popular CBeebies Series’ EVER

A slight detour from the 100 Most-Broadcast Things On The BBC Ever to give another airing for something I posted on Medium earlier this year. Some of you may already have read this, but for any new readers (especially those with kids), I do hope you’re sitting comfortably.


“Shall we put CBeebies on?” is one of the sentences a generation of kids will be used to from an early age. A true godsend to parents of young children, it has comprehensively achieved the mission statement laid out on the channel’s Twitter bio (“Helping parents drink their tea while it’s still hot”), and it marks its 20th anniversary this Friday. The channel itself doesn’t seem to be doing anything special to mark the anniversary, which is probably reasonable enough given its target demographic are too busy enjoying the programmes to care. But it’d be a shame not to mark it somehow. So here, as a thank you from one such parent, is a look at the twenty most popular series ever shown on the channel.

Without taking my cynical sneery internet mask off for too long, it’s easy to see why CBeebies is so damn valuable to families in the UK. The alternate options on broadcast TV are by necessity funded by adverts, which means kids programmes are buffered by parcels of disappointment (“Ooh! Can I have one of those?” “No, they’re too expensive.” “I WISH I’D NEVER BEEN BORN (etc)”).

Ad-funded channels also mean trying to maximise that revenue stream by sourcing hours of cheaply-sourced landfill imports floating on that sea of commercials. Yes, there’s C5’s Milkshake strand, but that’s not a channel. And sure, Netflix or Disney+ have their own troves of kid-friendly programming, but the odd gem aside (shout out to Hilda and Centaurworld on Netflix, and to Disney’s The Owl House), it’s largely much of a muchness. It’s down to CBeebies for the offerings that feel truly inclusive for a UK audience, where characters seem more familiar, where the audience is part of a club, and where any on-screen programme titles don’t need to have ‘™’ superglued to them (Mister Maker excepted).

Oh, and watching CBeebies does dramatically reduce the likelihood of your child thinking the last letter of the alphabet is pronounced ‘zee’.

It’s perhaps this kind of familiarity that has led to a growth in audiences for CBeebies. In a period where viewing figures have dropped dramatically from what they once were (see below), CBeebies have seen their viewing figures grow and grow, helped in no small part by the investment in programming that doesn’t need to correlate to advertising income, along with the ability to revisit favourites on iPlayer at will.

HOW THE METRICS MEASURE UP: While I could just have dumped out a list of programmes by their most-watched episode, that would heavily favour more recent shows, given the ease with which things can be watched on iPlayer across several devices in recent years. Instead, I’ve looked at how often an episode of a programme appears in that week’s BARB Top Ten for the channel, and come up with a total for each series. That should give a greater mix of shows from across the span of CBeebies lifespan. BUT WILL IT? Well, we’ll see. Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin.

20. FIMBLES

First appearance: 2002
Last appearance: 2006
Highest viewing figure: 418,000
Appearances in weekly Top Ten: 136

As if to heavily underline the sheer volume of episodes you need to produce if you want a daily slot on pre-school TV (Bagpuss wouldn’t get away with only ever making three episodes in this day and age), Fimbles ran from September 2002 to September 2004, and in that time clocked up 200 episodes. Two hundred! Even thinking about the person who typed up the end credit text for all those episodes is quite tiring. Still, the antics of Fimbo, Flurrie and Baby Pom proved popular enough, with the programme running on CBeebies for almost the entirety of the channel’s first decade, making the weekly top ten on 136 occasions.

  1. WAFFLE THE WONDER DOG

First appearance: 2018
Last appearance: 2021
Highest viewing figure: 890,534
Appearances in weekly Top Ten: 160

It’s all too tempting to be sniffy about the programmes on CBeebies. Every time a Russell Comedian (or if you’re older, a Norman and Gareth Comedian) starts an extended riff on What Were They Smoking To Come Up With Rainbow/Teletubbies/In The Night Garden, it’s difficult not to pinch the bridge of your nose and mutter “yeah, but it’s not FOR you, mate”. While there are shows for under-7s that can win over a grown-up audience, the main thing is that it brings the youngest viewers stories of learning, of sharing, of kindness, of empathy. That said, every time I watch the tales of The Brooklyn-Bell family and their accident-prone-but-well-meaning-adopted-talking hound, I’m firmly on the side of grumpy neighbour Mrs Hobbs. You’re not Paddington and you never will be, Waffle.

  1. BALAMORY

First appearance: 2002
Last appearance: 2014
Highest viewing figure: 571,000
Appearances in weekly Top Ten: 169

Positive mode back on. Not too many CBeebies shows have been quoted by Malcolm Tucker in The Thick Of It, but Balamory is definitely part of that elite group. Anyway, the story here was that the residents of a fictional island community off the west coast of Scotland, each resident having a personality as distinctive as their individual colour of clothing, not to mention each person having a signature song. It was popular enough to attract several special guest actors, such as Terry Wogan, Still Game’s Greg Hemphill and… John Altman from EastEnders. Not going to lie, that last one is a surprise. Such was its fame at the time, there was even a DVD-exclusive episode. Remember them? The past is indeed a different country.

  1. ABNEY AND TEAL

First appearance: 2011
Last appearance: 2017
Highest viewing figure: 717,000
Appearances in weekly Top Ten: 178

Hey, fellow children of the 80s! Remember when much of Children’s BBC output was repeats of slightly grim 70s kids programming, where little characters made the best of things in grim surroundings? Well this tale of two forgotten rag doll siblings living on some small islands on a lake in a part was a continuation of that fine tradition. A pre-tea-time slot helped it find an audience and cling onto it.

  1. BLUEY

First appearance: 2021
Last appearance: 2021
Highest viewing figure: 972,355
Appearances in weekly Top Ten: 181

CBeebies’ most recent runaway hit. Only arriving on the channel in April 2021, and by the end of the year it had made the channel’s Weekly Top Ten 181 times — and that’s despite there being few episodes on iPlayer at any given time (Disney+ have first dibs on the whole run). And it’s not hard to see why — despite the titular character being a Blue Heeler dog from Brisbane, it’s probably the most relatable programme ever screened on the channel. Even more so than Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures.

And it certainly doesn’t hurt that patriarch Bandit Heeler is a standout character, joining the TV Dad Hall Of Fame alongside Homer Simpson, Martin Goodman and Frank Costanza. Not only are his antics (often combined with his willingness to persevere with a ‘bit’ to his own cost, such as the magic xylophone that allows his daughters to freeze him to the spot in the series opener) truly winsome, but his willingness to put aside his own comfort for the sake of his daughters’ entertainment helps off-screen dads realise that maybe we should be raising our own game a little, too.

Of course, for all it’s magnificence one can only wonder what the neighbours must think if they overhear you asking your kids “Shall we put a Bluey on?”. But still, as Bandit memorably states at the denouement of one misadventure, are you not entertained?

  1. 64 ZOO LANE

First appearance: 2002
Last appearance: 2018
Highest viewing figure: 630,000
Appearances in weekly Top Ten: 210

Noisy neighbours when you’ve got little children are, to use an understatement, worse than three Hitlers. However, 7-year-old Lucy isn’t complaining — she lives next door to a zoo at, appropriately enough, 64 Zoo Lane. Each night, the animals tell her a story about their background, ending just in time for some friendly morality and bed. And quite a hit it was, too.

  1. CHUGGINGTON

First appearance: 2009
Last appearance: 2016
Highest viewing figure: 722,000
Appearances in weekly Top Ten: 225

What if Thomas The Tank Engine but Pixar’s Cars? That’s basically the premise here. Clearly designed to be slightly cooler and more relatable than the antics of Thomas and Friends, but did Chuggington never have a toy range crossover with DC Comics? No. No, it did not.

  1. SARAH & DUCK

First appearance: 2013
Last appearance: 2021
Highest viewing figure: 614,000
Appearances in weekly Top Ten: 227

One of the more charming offerings from the channel, the simple tale of seven-year-old Sarah and her best friend Duck, who is a duck. On the surface, the theme is friendship and coping with minor adversity, but the world inhabited by the duo is so packed with wonder and whimsy it’s easy to see why it’s beloved by so many children.

It’s not without its grown-up fanbase, too. A situation perhaps not hurt by the comforting tones of Roger “The Thick Of It, Cabin Pressure, Endeavour” Allam on narrator duties, plus a great supporting cast in Downton Abbey’s Lesley Nichol, kids TV royalty Derek Griffiths and Andy Nyman who plays a sarcastic bag. And don’t forget the occasional background reference for TV and film nerds.

  1. THE STORY MAKERS

First appearance: 2002
Last appearance: 2008
Highest viewing figure: 513,000
Appearances in weekly Top Ten: 246

An early hit for the channel following its 2002 launch, and it’s one that employs a trusted format — a nice story being read to the audience. Though to make things a bit more interesting, there’s a suitably high concept behind the strand. After the library setting closes for the evening, puppet monsters Jackson and Jelly sneak out and are joined by a (non-puppet) member of the Wordsworth family for a night of storytelling until dawn breaks and the library staff return for another day. A nice enough premise, though one can only wonder how often it led to small children creeping around corners of their local library to try and catch their local felt monsters unawares.

=10. GIGGLEBIZ

First appearance: 2009
Last appearance: 2019
Highest viewing figure: 730,000
Appearances in weekly Top Ten: 251

Not content with playing various members of the extended Tumble family for Something Special, Justin Fletcher wipes away the red nose and freckles to play a variety of other characters in this sketch comedy series. And as introductions to the world of sketch comedy go, it’s a damn good one, with Crackpot inventor Professor Muddles very much from the Ronnie Barker school of comedy monologue, inept dancer Enrique Pasadoble not a world away from the physical antics of Rowan Atkinson, while Captain Adorable shares at least 70% of his DNA with Russ Abbot’s Cooperman. Standout character. The closest thing Gigglebiz has to a host is cheery newsreader Arthur Sleep is as solid a comic creation as any, his 1970s Regional News demeanour simultaneously making no sense at all given the target audience, and being a perfect lynchpin for the show.

The series is such a smash that it earned it’s own spin-off series — panel show GiggleQuiz, where various characters (all played by a Justin in a style similar to the famous funeral scene from Kind Hearts and Coronets) answer questions based on clips from the series. So damn adept is Fletcher at adopting each persona, at the end of each episode where all five participants get up and dance to the closing theme music, each character has a distinct signature dance. Truly he is an übermensch for the under-sevens.

=10. GRANDPA IN MY POCKET

First appearance: 2009
Last appearance: 2014
Highest viewing figure: 707,000
Appearances in weekly Top Ten: 251

A role flung far from playing a young chap fighting his way through adulthood in The Likely Lads, James Bolam appeared as the titular Grandfather in a premise based on 70s Dandy strip Peter’s Pocket Grandpa. As, of course, was Mickey’s Miniature Grandpa from Viz, which means I can never take this programme seriously. You know, this programme about the Grandpa who owns a magical shrinking cap that makes him four inches tall.

  1. SOMETHING SPECIAL

First appearance: 2005
Last appearance: 2020
Highest viewing figure: 706,000
Appearances in weekly Top Ten: 259

If you ever need a reason why the BBC is something that should be fought for (and not against, as seems to frequently be the hobby of the deplorable), it’s this. Originally commissioned to help introduce children to Makaton signing, and specifically aimed at kids with delayed learning and communication difficulties, it soon became a favourite of all CBeebies viewers. As a result, it’s still going strong 19 years after first airing, behind only Play School as Britain’s longest running preschool series. One can’t help but think it’s something that would never ever be made by Netflix.

  1. OCTONAUTS

First appearance: 2010
Last appearance: 2021
Highest viewing figure: 806,000
Appearances in weekly Top Ten: 261

From something that Netflix would never commission, to something that proved so popular Netflix went and nabbed the rights to it. Based on a series of books by Vicki Wong and Michael C. Murphy, Octonauts follows the adventures of the crew manning an underwater research station. A reimagining of Sealab 2020 but with Michael from I’m Alan Partridge voicing the lead character, if you will. After 116 episodes and a dozen specials (plus minute-long ‘Creature Reports’ to be shown between other programmes, where the crew introduce viewers to various sea-based creatures), spin-off Octonauts: Above & Beyond was snaffled up by the US streaming giant.

  1. BING

First appearance: 2014
Last appearance: 2021
Highest viewing figure: 1,134,786
Appearances in weekly Top Ten: 299

Talk about a tough start in life. Not only is titular bunny Bing being inexplicably brought up in a world where all adults have been replaced by stuffed toy guardians, who help them learn to cope with their clearly uncertain future, but he’s named after the internet’s most unpopular search engine. Lucky for him then that his journey out of toddlerhood is being guided by his own appointed stuffed toy guardian Flop, containing the authoritative voices of Mark Rylance (for series one) and David Threlfall (for series two).

Yes, it’s tempting to grumble about Bing making a big drama out of everything and muttering about how a spell in the armed forces will sort him out (just me?), but then this has won an International Emmy Kids Award and you haven’t, so shush.

  1. CHARLIE AND LOLA

First appearance: 2005
Last appearance: 2019
Highest viewing figure: 651,000
Appearances in weekly Top Ten: 353

Adapted from the books by writer and illustrator Lauren Child, this series follows the antics of energetic, imaginative and impetuous little girl Lola and (thankfully) older brother and much-needed voice of reason Charlie, ever ready to help his younger sibling learn and grow from life’s little setbacks. And very popular it has proved too — despite the last episode first being screened in 2008, it remained a ratings warhorse for more than a decade since that point. The lively energy throughout, and fascinating animation style, taking in montage of real-world photography to underlay the original artwork, makes it easy to see why that was the case.

  1. IN THE NIGHT GARDEN

First appearance: 2007
Last appearance: 2021
Highest viewing figure: 580,000
Appearances in weekly Top Ten: 380

It seems wrong to describe the gentle tale of some magical creatures cavorting around a fantastical garden in the dreams of children as ‘a juggernaut’, but when it comes to this series, it really does fit. Part of a pre-bedtime routine for a huge number of children, the names of Igglepiggle, Upsy Daisy and Makka Pakka (changed from real name Michael Parkinson to get an Equity card, I believe) are likely to have been amongst the first words uttered by tens of thousands of toddlers since the show first aired in 2007. Of course, it’s all nonsense for anyone over the age of five, but then it’s not for them. So stop trying to get Social Services to do something about the way the Pontipines keep losing their kids.

  1. PETER RABBIT

First appearance: 2012
Last appearance: 2021
Highest viewing figure: 699,000
Appearances in weekly Top Ten: 386

Some interesting facts about Peter Rabbit:

Surprisingly, this Irish-made adaptation of the classic Beatrix Potter books actually aired first on US kids network Nick Jr (on 14 December 2012), only arriving on CBeebies for the first time a few weeks later.

It’s very popular in the USA, with viewing figures as high as three million. The series has also picked up three daytime Emmys over there.
Aside from also being a hit on CBeebies, translated versions are also screened on BBC Alba as ‘Peadar Kinnen’ and on S4C as ‘’Guto Gwningen‘’.

If you’ve not seen it, don’t worry. James Cordon isn’t in the TV version.

  1. TOPSY AND TIM

First appearance: 2013
Last appearance: 2020
Highest viewing figure: 1,027,170
Appearances in weekly Top Ten: 396

When it comes to live-action kids programming containing child actors, there really is a need to churn out as many episodes as you can before the kids get too old for the audience. It’s why there’s no Champion of Champions episode of Swashbuckle, the original intake of contestants are now busy doing A-Levels and creating NFTs. And that’s why when it came to adapting Jean Adamson and Gareth Adamson’s long-running series of books, they needed to get out the door as quickly as possible, with 71 episodes produced between 2013 and 2015. A run in the Just Before Mum And Dad Put Pointless On 5pm slot helped attract an appreciative audience, at least in our house.

  1. TWEENIES

First appearance: 2002
Last appearance: 2015
Highest viewing figure: 540,000
Appearances in weekly Top Ten: 448

The first truly big show for the then-new channel. Now most frequently remembered for, y’know, an episode featuring a Tweenied version of The Most Cancelled Of Cancelled Celebrities, but back then it was huge. Even thirteen years after first airing, it remained popular enough to become the thirdmost CBeebies popular programme on a given week. As was the style at the time, it grew an audience away from CBeebies — it originally started on BBC1 and BBC2 in 1999 — but repeats of the shows 390 (crikey) episodes were essential for the fledgling digital channel, and the original digital TV generation of young viewers lapped it up.

The popularity of the show even troubled the pop charts — five spin-off singles reached the UK Top 20 between 2000 and 2002 — leading to inevitable appearances on Top Of The Pops. Look out for those on BBC Four in about 2027.

THE OTHERS

Before that number one spot, here’s a quick run through of some other big CBeebies shows that — slightly surprisingly — didn’t make the top twenty.

Grimbles. Despite being all over the place, GO JETTERS only reaches 26th place in the list. I blame whoever decided to water down the antics of nominal ‘baddy’ Grandmaster Glitch once they realised he was the most likeable character in the whole thing. Hey, if you want the good guys to be popular, give them better catchphrases than ‘geographic!’.

Despite having a brilliant premise that it’s hard to believe hadn’t been done before (anthropomorphised blocks of numbers who get up to arithmetical adventures), NUMBERBLOCKS only lands in 34th place on the list. A pity that it isn’t higher, as it’s a genuinely great format for younger viewers, helping them to easily visualise number sets, coaxing them towards maths and numbers and compiling massive spreadsheets of viewing figures for old telly programmes so I don’t have to do it any more. It’s also a surprise that similarly developmentally-helpful companion show (only for letters and words) Alphablocks (125th place, if you’re wondering) actually preceded it. After all, it’s the numbers one that can more easily be sold to countries daring to speak a language other than Our Queen’s English.

Despite the presence of James Bolam in the top ten, it’s actually OLD JACK’S BOAT (36th place) that really draws in a big name cast. The titular sailor is played by none other than Immortal (in our hearts) National Treasure Sir Bernard Cribbins (to use his full title), and he’s accompanied by Freema Agyeman (officially making this a Doctor Who spin-off, I believe), Helen Lederer and Janine Duvitski. Oh, and Don Gilet from EastEnders. But really, it’s worth tuning in for Cribbins. Nice to just have him around the place, given his long-running association with the Beeb’s children’s output over the decades.

When it comes to one-off antics, the CBeebies Christmas Pantos are as big as anything the channel has ever done. But they’re one-off specials, so I’m not including them here (apart from a footnote in a bit, excitement fans). But if anyone doesn’t want to wait until Christmas for some shouty on-stage action, JUSTIN’S HOUSE (42nd place) is a must. Justin Fletcher —at this points so essential to the channel he should be made Lord Mayor of MediaCityUK — appears as himself in a heavy farce involving a houseshare with a robot butler, a green monster puppet and 56% of the UK’s slapstick reserves. A place in the studio audience must have been something under-7s would trade in any toy for, which makes it a shame that Covid has resulted in the show switching format to a less arresting (and audience-free) stock sitcom. Bah.

Here’s something pretty astonishing. There’s a programme that goes out daily, as close to peak-time as you can possibly get on CBeebies, and has a special guest presenting each episode. Not just any guest presenter — we’re talking the likes of Tom Hardy, Reese Witherspoon, Vicky McClure, Sam Mendes, Rick Astley, Jodie Whittaker, Mark Ronson, Matt Berry, Dolly Parton and Chris ‘Captain America Not TFI Friday’ Evans, and those are just the ones currently on iPlayer. And yet, CBEEBIES BEDTIME STORIES only makes 74th place on the list.

Despite a good old stupid premise for each and every episode (“Oh no! I’ve just made a simple and easily explainable mistake while working as a museum curator. Now, I could apologise, or I could USE A MAGIC CLOCK TO GO BACK TO DINOSAUR TIMES AND GET A NEW ONE AND THEN ALMOST GET KILLED”), ANDY’S PREHISTORIC ADVENTURES only reaches 81st place on this list. Should’ve just fessed up, Andy.

Despite the presence of Adam Buxton in the role of titular blue monster (Under-7’s love The Adam & Joe Show, yeah?) MESSY GOES TO OKIDO only clocks in at joint 90th place.

Despite a lengthy run in the prime 5pm-Okay-Just-This-One-But-Then-We’re-Putting-Pointless-On teatime slot, MOLLY AND MACK meanders into joint 90th place on the list. Am I mentioning this because at the height of kid-related sleep deprivation the plots of this programme and BBC One drama series Shetland morphed together in my drowsy mind so much I half expected a crim in the latter to burst into the “Oops, Oh No” song as they stand over a bloodied victim? Yes, absolutely that.

Okay, onto the most popular show in the history of CBeebies. And luckily, it’s the best of the lot. Isn’t it time for..?

  1. HEY DUGGEE

First appearance: 2015
Last appearance: 2021
Highest viewing figure: 1,272,110
Appearances in weekly Top Ten: 706

A-woof. The gentle tale of an after-school club ran by a big friendly dog. Each episode sees the eager members of The Squirrel Club learn a valuable lesson, and earn a badge for their endeavours. Just five minutes long, how can it prove so damn rewatchable? If you’re parent to a Duggee-obsessed toddler, you’ll just be pleased that it is. Because you’re going to be seeing a lot of it.

Despite there being 156 episodes (at the time of typing), you can feel the effort put into every moment of it. Each little bounce of the Squirrels as they prance joyfully to the next scene, every walking motion, each wave, each little nod — it’s incredibly easy to imagine there being a big soppy grin on every animator’s face as they get another little moment just right. Every single moment is like a warm cuddle from, well, a big friendly dog.

The majesty doesn’t end with the show’s aesthetic qualities, either. The scripts bounce along just as gleefully as the Squirrels, keeping viewers old and new entertained — and there’s plenty for older viewers in there, too. In some other forms of child entertainment, packing in some gags for grown-ups dilutes the child-friendly tone far too heavily (the oh-so-risque lines in Shrek or That Awful Animated Film About The Royal Corgi With Jack Whitehall In It). In Duggee, they’re slipped in with such delicious subtlety that you might only notice the nod to Apocalypse Now, The Life Aquatic With Steve Zizzou or the BBC Micro on the fifth viewing. In short, it’s a five-minute parcel of splendour.

And it’s a huge show for the channel , too —were this a list of most-watched broadcasts on CBeebies, Hey Duggee would take up 16 places in the top 30. It’s one of a handful of CBeebies shows to get viewing figures above a million, and one can only wonder at how often requests to say “Isn’t it time for…” have to be edited out of a certain tea-time BBC1 game show.

Okay, Squirrels. You’ve earned your Most Popular CBeebies Programme In The Channel’s History badge.

BONUS STATS FOR NERDS

Firstly, a quick note: all the data is based on programmes marking the BARB Weekly Top 10 of most-watched programmes on the channel. And, handily, because the public BARB data includes both day of the week and time of day for each qualifying broadcast, we can get a bit more detail on things. So…

NOTE: Apologies for anyone trying to view this on a mobile. I can assure you all those numbers are very interesting, and you’re bloody-minded enough to persevere, you can see them slightly better if you’re in landscape view.

Which is the most popular day of the week for CBeebies shows?

As might be expected, weekdays — when kids are either getting ready for, or just back from school — are more popular than weekends, where they’re off doing other stuff instead, and where the channel often puts on signed repeats or slightly older programming. So, here’s a breakdown of days of the week of shows making a weekly top ten. Including a breakdown by year of broadcast, because I love you:

Quite the difference between weekdays and weekends, there. It’s perhaps notable that the difference between weekdays and weekends is much less obvious for 2020 and 2021, when family weekends saw far fewer options for Switching Off The Television Set and Going and Doing Something Less Boring Instead.

Which is the most popular month for CBeebies shows?

All logic here would suggest it’s the colder winter months that see a larger audience. And you’d be correct. Obviously here, count of programmes in the top 10 each week isn’t going to reveal anything — it’s going to be ten per week, no matter what. So instead, here’s a table broken down by average viewing figure of a Top Ten programme for each given month.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the Christmas holiday and reliable ratings smash the annual CBeebies Christmas Panto being aired, December is the winner here.

Which is the most popular hour of the day for CBeebies shows?

Again, perhaps little surprise here. The teatime 5–6pm slot, where shows like Topsy and Tim, Gigglebiz and Grandpa In My Pocket could be found, just before the Bedtime Hour where programming caters more for pre-schoolers, are the norm, and slightly older kids flip to Channel 4 to watch The Simpsons.

Or at least, that was the case, until 2018, where programmes from 7–8am became increasingly popular. A quick peek at the programmes broadcast in that slot gives a clue as to why:

The channel’s most popular programme, and also Bing, blagging some huge million-plus viewing figures. But why is that? Well, a big factor here will be the way BARB collate the viewing figures. Since September 2018, ‘Four Screen’ viewing has been collated, including programmes watched on iPlayer. And, as the practice of accessing iPlayer has become easier (strange now to think that watching iPlayer on a TV set only came in a few years after the service launched), the change is very noticeable.

Here’s a set of figures from before BARB’s ratings change, where (to the best of my knowledge) only ‘recorded to PVR’ viewings of a show are factored into that ’28 day data’ figure. Very little difference between the two sets of figures.

Following the change to the way data is captured in 2018, there’s a much more notable difference between viewing windows. Here are figures for a comparable period in 2019 — figures already notably higher for the seven-day period as it is, are much higher for that 28-day period, nearly doubling the figures from 2017. For the record, iPlayer’s change from a 7-day catch-up window to a 28-day window came about in 2014, so it’s in place for both sets of figures.

That difference in a shifting of CBeebies ‘prime-time’, then. I’m willing to bet that it’s also down to a vast increase in programmes being (likely binge-)watched via iPlayer, rather than more kids watching TV between 7am and 8am — a suspicion supported by the lack of other 7–8am programmes (Peter Rabbit, Go Jetters) in those viewing figures.

Was CBeebies Much More Popular During Lockdown?

Here’s an interesting one. With the majority of the population ordered to stay at home for much of the last couple of years, it stands to reason that anyone with young children would have put the telly on. Especially when, speaking from experience, in those early lockdown months, there was little schools could initially do to provide under-5s with home-based education.

The advice we were given by our local school was “take this time to do fun activities with your child”, and that’s what we did, at least as far as circumstances (and also trying to work from home) allowed. But, there were only so many things you could do, especially with the likes of Hobbycraft safely shuttered for the duration. So, CBeebies had much more airtime in BrokenTV Towers. But was that the case nationally?

Well, let’s find out. Using a rolling six-week average for your average viewing figure of a BARB Weekly Top 10 CBeebies show (yeah, keep it simple), here’s a summary from the start of the new ratings methodology in late September 2018, until now. Lockdown dates taken from the Institute For Government.

So, not especially. That was worth the time I spent working that out.

Enough Of All This Nonsense, What Were The Most-Watched Individual CBeebies Programmes Of The Last 20 Years?

Some attitude you’ve got there, mister. Here you go. The top hundred, just for you. Note: a lot of CBeebies Christmas Pantos in there, which weren’t in the list for Top 20 CBeebies Series’. Which is because they aren’t a proper series.

Okay, Fair Enough. What About A Longer Version Of The List From Earlier? The Most Popular CBeebies Series?

Yeah, go on then. You’ve read this far. Here you go. Some surprising positions in the list:

There, everything that has appeared in a weekly top ten more than ten times. And some shows in surprisingly lowly positions. Aside from the ones mentioned yesterday, The Clangers only at 39, despite the presence of Michael Palin and lashings of nostalgia, the Teletubblies reboot not even making the top fifty, and two shows popular enough to get their own spin-off magazines (Twirlywoos and Swashbuckle) only at 59 and 65 respectively.

And to repeat something mentioned yesterday, CBeebies Bedtime Stories — probably the programme even non-viewers know about (even making the BBC One News and front pages of several newspapers this week, due to a famous celebrity guest) — being way down the list.

Perhaps less surprising that Bill & Ben and Muffin the Mule are way down the pecking order, though. Now, if they’d done an animated reboot of Hancock’s Half Hour…

Anyway, that’s where we’ll probably sing the CBeebies bedtime song and leave it there. At least until the thirtieth anniversary. Now, I’d better start working on something similar for BBC Four’s twentieth anniversary in a few weeks’ time. If the channel lasts that long.

Goodnight, children.

One response to “You Know, For Kids: The 20 Most Popular CBeebies Series’ EVER”

  1. My daughter was in the audience for two episodes of Justin’s House. (The first two, I think.) Part of a group recruited from the local weekend stage school, to go see a new program nobody had heard of yet. She absolutely enjoyed it, made her a big Justin fan, topped only by meeting him in person, and getting a proper hug, a year later filming a CBeebies song video. (she no longer acts, but that’s another story..) And yes, loads of people were so jealous!

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