The amount of time Britons spent watching UK shot up last year, according to new research.

Britons now spend an average of 3.8 hours a day watching the small screen, up 3.2 per cent from the previous year and the highest increase among a group of Western countries.

Viewers in the US watched the most TV in 2008, an average 4.6 hours a day, up 1.8 per cent from 2007, according to Ofcom.

The European countries surveyed average 3.5 hours per day.

The communications watchdog compared the UK with countries such as France, Germany, Italy, the US, Poland, Spain, the Netherlands, Sweden and Ireland.

Those in Sweden continued to watch the least TV at 2.7 hours a day, although this was a 1.9 per cent increase across the year.

Of those surveyed, the UK remained the country with the highest proportion of households with digital TV on their main set, at 88 per cent in 2008, up three per cent in the previous 12 months in the run up to switchover.

The US was next with 76 per cent of households having digital TV, up by six per cent on the previous year.