Britain's 10 biggest reality shows of the century – ranked by viewing figures

X Factor or The Voice? TOWIE or Geordie Shore? Celebrity Big Brother or I’m A Celebrity? We’re spoilt rotten nowadays when it comes to reality TV, but while that’s good news for those after something to watch, the competition isn’t exactly great for telly bosses.

As far as producers and channels are concerned, it’s ratings that count – and there can only be one number one. So which show is the champion? We decided to find out by looking back at the average audience figures for each series and then determine the overall average for each.

Which is why Celebrity Big Brother and civilian Big Brother both failed to even make the cut. GASP! We’re looking at an average of the series-average ratings, remember – so those shows later years drag them way down.

Brace yourselves…

10. I’d Do Anything (6.03m)

©  BBC

Over a decade ago, Andrew Lloyd Webber enjoyed huge success with a string of talent shows hunting for the next big lead in musicals like The Sound of Music (How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?).

He followed it up in 2008 with I’d Do Anything, which saw him trying to find the next Nancy for the West End revival of Oliver! – and it’s no surprise it was a huge hit with viewers.

9. Any Dream Will Do (6.17m)

If It’s not broke, don’t fix it – Any Dream Will Do actually came before I’d Do Anything, and both shows broke the 6 million mark.

We shouldn’t be too shocked – reality TV, glitz, glamour and musicals. Telly could literally just be made up of that and nothing else, and we wouldn’t be too disappointed.

8. The Voice (7.23m)

©  ITV

A big jump in the average viewers here, and – with one exception – we’re in the world of talent shows. The Voice might be struggling to find that big breakthrough star, but the format has proven popular, with the move to ITV doing nothing to damage its appeal.

Plus, with the likes of and Sir Tom Jones as coaches, it has had consistent star power.

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7. Dancing On Ice (7.5m)

©  ITV

Dancing On Ice made a huge comeback this year after four years off our screens, and it was all change as This Morning co-host Holly Willoughby replaced Christine Lampard alongside Phillip Schofield, while Torvill and Dean became head judges alongside long-time panellist Jason Gardiner, and newcomer Ashley Banjo.

It was a huge success, with the first episode of the ninth series being watched by more than 8 million people.

6. Pop Idol (7.82m)

It may not have broken into the Top 5, but we can’t overlook Pop Idol’s huge influence. It still holds up as one of the most popular reality shows ever, with spin-off American Idol continuing to impress our friends across the pond.

It lasted just two series thanks to The X Factor (which, as we’ll find out, wasn’t a bad decision all considered) but gave us such stellar alumni as Michelle McManus, Gareth Gates, Will Young, Sam and Mark and, um, Darius Campbell (aka Danesh).

5. Great British Bake-Off (8.1m)

The Great British Bake-Off has taken the idea of reality TV and competition, stuck it in a bowl with the nation’s love of cakes, mixed in some saucy humour and come up with a winning recipe.

Even the very divisive move to Channel 4 hasn’t stalled things. Despite a smaller audience after leaving BBC – and losing national treasure Mary Berry – we all still can’t get enough, and the future should be rosy in its new home.

4. Britain’s Got Talent (9.43m)

Britain’s Got Talent returned at the weekend for its 12th series, and it’s safe to say the contest – which looks to find a top act to perform at the Royal Variety Show – is a big part of the nation’s TV habits.

That’s no surprise, as we’ve seen some memorable moments of the years – above all else, the arrival of Susan Boyle will go down in TV history. Simon Cowell hit another winning formula.

3. The X Factor (9.46m)

However, on the Cowell-o-meter, BGT is narrowly pipped by another of Simon’s creations, The X Factor.

Past contestants on this singing competition are a who’s who of superstars, from Little Mix and One Direction to Olly Murs and James Arthur. The Voice has some catching up to do, as the past 14 series of X Factor have produced genuine household names, as well as must-see TV.

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2. I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! (9.49m)

Remember what we said before about adding celebrities to anything being a top-notch plan? Look no further than I’m a Celebrity, which took the ‘famous people in a house’ idea, jetted it to the jungle and let them fend for themselves.

As a nation, it’s clear we can’t get enough of seeing an unlikely bunch of campmates – from politicians and singers to reality stars and actors – stuck in the outback having to work together for food – and our entertainment, of course.

1. Strictly Come Dancing (9.78m)

©  BBC

Strictly Come Dancing finds itself top of the reality-TV pops, and deservedly so as it continues to dominate the ratings each winter.

Whether it’s celebrities finding out they have a genuine knack for ballroom (Frankie Bridge, Harry Judd) or even the hapless ones giving us a good giggle (Ed Balls, just Ed Balls forever), Strictly stands tall with a little bit of everything.

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