Channel 4’s Dogging Tales pulled in 1.9 million viewers, a 70 per cent rise on the channel’s normal viewing figures for the 10-11pm time slot.
The show had a peak audience of 2.1 million and was the most popular slot among 16-34 year olds, according to the channel.
The ratings figures were double that of Hilary Devey’s new programme The Intern, shown on Channel 4 an hour earlier at 9pm.
The show, which mixes hidden-camera footage with first-person narratives from dogging enthusiasts, received a huge reaction on social media.
The documentary was tweeted about 117,672 times during transmission, averaging 2,541 tweets per minute according to analytics company Second Sync. #Doggingtales was still trending ten hours after its first broadcast.
Many tweets commented on the disturbing range of animal masks worn by the “doggers”, while others were astounded by the statistic reported on the show that 70 per cent of lorry drivers go dogging.
Melissa Wareham tweeted: “I will never look at The Animals of Farthing Wood in the same way again” and JCautomatic quipped: “With all these animal masks all #doggingtales needs is a Voice Over by David Attenborough.”
Tweeters also commented on the show’s prominent use of deodorant and perfume. Newt1704 said: “After watching #DoggingTales I’m beginning to question why I was given a lot of lynx and joop at Christmas now!”
Alan Carr was among a number of comedians tweeting about the show, saying: “As I said I’m on Channel 4 plus 1 so about to watch #doggingtales- hope they’ve pixelated my face like they said.”
But other users questioned the show’s voyeuristic nature. Obedientboy68 commented: “Are ‘point and laugh’ documentaries like #DoggingTales at least partly responsible for Britain’s immature attitude to alternative sexuality?”