BBC survey: Tom Daley’s Splash! favourite for gay men whilst lesbians like Rules of Engagement

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

ITV’s ‘Vicious’ and its celebrity diving show ‘Splash!’ have been rated the most popular programmes for young gay men in a BBC survey, whilst for lesbians in the same age category ‘Rules of Engagement’ followed by ‘Never Mind the Buzzcocks’ are the most popular shows.

The BBC compiled the results by analysing just over 1,000 people, who identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual, in an audience survey of 20,000.

33.6% of gay and bisexual men aged 16-34 named ITV’s ‘Vicious’ as their favourite show. It stars Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Derek Jacobi as a bickering gay couple who have been together for 50 years.

ITV’s celebrity diving show ‘Splash!’ – starring Olympic diver Tom Daley – was in second position at 20.6% – practically tying with the BBC’s ‘Great British Bake Off’ on 20.5%.

‘Celebrity Big Brother’ on Channel 5 and Alan’s Carr’s Channel 4 talk show ‘Chatty Man’ were in fourth and fifth place.

For lesbians and bisexual women aged 16-34 their most popular programme was ‘Rules of Engagement’ (14.8%), followed by ‘Never Mind the Buzzcocks’ (13.3%). ‘QI’ and ‘University Challenge’ were statistically tied on 12.2%, followed by ‘Futurama’ on 11.9% and ‘Channel 4 News’ on 11.3%.

9.1% of lesbians and bisexual women aged 35-54 named ‘Come Dine with Me: Ireland’ as their favourite show.

‘Russell Howard’s Good News’ was in second position at 6.8%.

American crime comedy-drama ‘Bones’ was just a fraction behind in third place with 6.7%, followed by ‘Top Gear’ and ‘Match of the Day 2.’

For gay and bisexual men aged 35-54 their most popular programme was BBC Three’s factual documentary ‘Unsafe Sex in the City’ (33%), followed by ‘Glee’ (28.6%). ‘The New Normal’ came third on 27.5%, ‘Agatha Christie’s Marple’ fourth on 26.6% and ‘Being Human’ came fifth on 25.4%.

Among gay and bisexual men aged 55+ their most popular programme was BBC Four’s ‘Best Possible Taste: The Kenny Everett Story’ (14.6%), followed by ‘Shameless’ (13.9%). ‘Count Arthur Strong’ came third on 10.9%, ‘David Starkey’s Music and Monarchy’ fourth on 9.8% and ‘The Returned’ fifth on 9.0%.

The sample size was too small to produce results for lesbians and bisexual women aged 55+. Transgender people will be included in 2014 research by the BBC.

Adrian Ruth, Chair of the corporation’s LGBT staff group said on the BBC Blog: “The results make for fascinating reading. They confirm that LGB audiences are drawn to LGB (or gay-friendly) talent and portrayal – whether as presenters or contestants (Great British Bake Off, Alan Carr, Celebrity Big Brother), subjects, actors or characters (Downton Abbey, Being Human, Modern Family, Vicious, Glee, Kenny Everett and the soaps).

“While we can all probably hazard a guess as to why ITV’s celebrity diving show Splash! proved such a hit with gay men of all ages, the reasons behind lesbians’ apparent fondness for panel shows such as Never Mind the Buzzcocks and QImay not be quite so obvious. The high percentages simply mean that these programmes appealed much more to lesbians than to straight women of a similar age. While the research can’t explain what drives people’s programming preferences, the beauty of using the panel for this research is that we will keep on accumulating examples, enabling us to gain over time an ever deeper understanding of LGB audience behaviours and tastes.”