A BBC Centenary poll had named Doctor Who the top drama of the century, and overall the second best loved BBC show ever

In a new poll to celebrate the centenary of the BBC’s first radio broadcast in 1922, viewers have voted to name the BBC’s most loved shows. Among the results, Doctor Who is the highest placed drama, beating the likes of Line of Duty, Call the Midwife, Killing Eve, and Sherlock to the title. It’s a remarkable result for the series which has had seasons or specials air during forty-six of the ninety years since television services in the UK began. It’s also one of just four current shows, alongside Strictly, Call the Midwife and Killing Eve, to feature.

Doctor Who was second overall, behind sitcom Only Fools and Horses, which entertained audiences for more than two decades from 1981. Other notable entries included celebrity dancing competition Strictly Come Dancing at #3, crime drama Line of Duty at #4, and period medical drama Call the Midwife at #5. Further down, sitcoms were well presented, making up half the list, including classics like Fawlty Towers, Blackadder, Yes Minister and Dad’s Army. The comedy variety show Morecambe and Wise, with its legendary Christmas specials, also found a place in the top twenty. Surprisingly, though, David Attenborough’s Planet Earth series, counted together with its sequel, was the only documentary to make the cut.

The result also underlines Doctor Who’s status as one of the great national institutions of British television. Despite its lengthy hiatus during the 90s and early 00s, give or take a TV movie, almost sixty years since An Unearthly Child, today it’s almost impossible to imagine a BBC without Doctor Who.


Wheeler dealer sitcom Only Fools and Horses was named the nation's favourite BBC show overall (c) BBC Studios BBC Centenary
Wheeler dealer sitcom Only Fools and Horses was named the nation’s favourite BBC show overall (c) BBC Studios

The full list of the top 20 BBC shows of the past hundred years

  1. Only Fools and Horses (sitcom, 1981-2003)
  2. Doctor Who (drama, 1963-)
  3. Strictly Come Dancing (competitive reality, 2004-)
  4. Line of Duty (drama, 2012-2021)
  5. Call The Midwife (drama, 2012-)
  6. Gavin and Stacey (sitcom, 2007-2019)
  7. Fawlty Towers (sitcom, 1975-1979)
  8. Blackadder (sitcom, 1982-1989)
  9. The Morecambe and Wise Show (variety, 1968-1977)
  10. The Vicar of Dibley (sitcom, 1994-2007)
  11. Dad’s Army (sitcom, 1968-1977)
  12. Planet Earth (documentary, 2006-2016)
  13. Killing Eve (drama, 2018-2022)
  14. Dinnerladies (sitcom, 1998-2000)
  15. Yes Minister / Yes, Prime Minister (sitcom, 1980-1987)
  16. Sherlock (drama, 2010-2017)
  17. The Good Life (sitcom, 1975-1978)
  18. Top of the Pops (music chart, 1964-2020)
  19. The Royle Family (sitcom, 1998-2012)
  20. Blue Peter (childrens, 1958-)


The Sea Devils return for Legend of the Sea Devils - (C) BBC Studios - Photographer: James Pardon
The Sea Devils return for Legend of the Sea Devils – (C) BBC Studios – Photographer: James Pardon

Doctor Who returns this Spring with Legend of the Sea Devils

Legend of the Sea Devils finds the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker), Yaz (Mandip Gill) and Dan (John Bishop) in 19th century China, where a small coastal village is under threat – from both the fearsome pirate queen Madame Ching (Crystal Yu) and a monstrous alien force which she unwittingly unleashes. Will the Doctor, Yaz and Dan emerge from this swashbuckling battle with the Sea Devils to save the planet?



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