Top Gear most-watched show as iPlayer hits new heights

Top Gear’s Africa special is the most watched show on the BBC iPlayer in the past year – as figures show use of the on-demand service shot up a third in the past 12 months.

The BBC Two show – which sent presenters James May, Jeremy Clarkson (pictured) and Richard Hammond in search of the source of the Nile for its best-viewed edition – dominated the top 10 iPlayer shows of 2013.

The series took five of the top 10 places for the year, while Doctor Who proved another popular draw with the sci-fi show’s 50th anniversary special pulling in its biggest audience, according to new figures combining TV and radio shows released by the BBC.

The first part of the Top Gear Africa special accounted for 3.42 million requests on the iPlayer to top the list, while the concluding part was in sixth spot with 2.76 million.

The opening episode of series 19 of Top Gear was runner-up in the 2013 most-viewed list on 3.22 million, while the Doctor Who birthday special The Day Of The Doctor was in third position on 2.91 million.

Another popular show was an edition of BBC Three series Bad Education which included comic Jack Whitehall wandering around naked and a scene spoofing the Ku Klux Klan, making it to number four.

The BBC iPlayer achieved a record three billion programme requests in 2013, which was up 33 per cent on the previous year.

In all there were 2.2 billion requests for TV shows and 800 million for radio programmes. The figures also show a huge rise in the usage of the iPlayer from tablet devices, with a 104 per cent increase year on year.

Last month saw mobile and tablet requests overtake those for PCs for the first time ever, although for the rest of the year PCs had led the field as the most popular platform for iPlayer use, thought to be a result of staff being away from their work desks and the number of new devices acquired over the Christmas period.

Dan Taylor, head of BBC iPlayer for BBC Future Media, said: “We’re delighted that iPlayer is enabling more and more people to enjoy the fantastic shows we create when and where they want.”

Of the top 20 programmes Top Gear editions accounted for half the most requested shows.