Top Gear: Patagonia Special becomes most-watched show on BBC iPlayer over Christmas

EastEnders was the second most-requested show on the BBC's catch-up service

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The Independent Culture

The controversial Top Gear: Patagonia Special was the most popular show on BBC iPlayer over the Christmas period, according to new figures.

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

However, the second episode – which saw the production team forced to flee Argentina after causing offence to locals- was only the third most popular Christmas week show with 1.5 million requests.

The finale of the two-parter drew an average audience of 4.8 million when it was broadcast on 28 December, 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 over Christmas 2014

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

With additional reporting from the Press Association

Read more: Twitter reacts to 'controversial' Top Gear special ending
Review - Top Gear: Patagonia Special part two