THE BOOK OF LISTS: The 10 Top-rating European TV Programmes

1. SOUTH KOREA V ITALY: WORLD CUP. Italy Rai 1, 18 June. TVR: 40.6. Score: 2.1 (Korea)

Italy was glued to the South Korea v Italy match and what a match it was. Three-times World Cup champions, Italy, were knocked out by a golden goal scored by Ahn Jung Hwan who wandered the pitch in a state of disbelief at his new-found status as national hero.

2. MEXICO V ITALY: WORLD CUP. Italy Rai 1, 13 June. TVR: 39.2 Score: 1.1

This match gave both teams a place in the second round. Alessandro del Piero scored five minutes before the final whistle, resulting in a draw. As Alan Partridge would say, liquid football.


The Spanish appear to adore all things Eurovision and this second part of the show, where they give the scores for different countries, was a real nail-biter for Spain as they came sixth.

4. ITALY V CROATIA: WORLD CUP. Italy Rai 1, 8 June. TVR: 34.4. Score: 2:1 (Croatia)

So you've now gathered that Italians like TV and football, so watching the World Cup on TV is their idea of nirvana. Being beaten by Croatia at football, however, is their idea of misery and humiliation. A nation gasped.

5. OPERACION TRIUNFO. Spain TVE 1, 25 May. TVR: 34.0

The Spanish version of Pop Idol took Spain by storm this year, with Rosa beating off stiff competition from two Davids, one Brylcreemed pin-up, the other a Craig David-alike.

6. ITALY V ECUADOR: WORLD CUP. Italy Rai 1, 3 June. TVR: 33.2 Score: 2.0 (Italy)

FIFA reckoned that the Italian TV networks kept showing Alessandro del Piero's goal against Mexico to keep the rest of this match off the airwaves. Sounds familiar, doesn't it? If you were given a fiver every time you saw Geoff Hurst's corker from 1966 on the UK networks, you could give up this advertising malarkey for good.

7. FESTIVAL EUROVISION. Spain TVE 1, 25 May. TVR: 33.0

This is the first half of the Eurovision Song Contest and saw Rosa, who won Spain's version of Pop Idol (see entry number five, Operacion Triunfo), representing her country with a song called Europe's A Living Celebration. All that slog, sweat and singing lessons just to be mercilessly mocked by Terry Wogan. Art is a cruel mistress.

8. SPAIN V IRELAND. Spain A3, 16 June. TVR: 32.0

Spain won this match on penalties in one of the most dramatic matches of the World Cup. Sangria all round in Spain, Guinness hangovers on the Emerald Isle.

9. GERMANY V BRAZIL. Italy Rai 1, 30 June. TVR: 30.2 Score 2.0 (Brazil)

When most people in the UK had given up on the World Cup as England been knocked out, Italy was the only European country to register the World Cup Final in its top ten programmes. True dedication to the beautiful game.

10. 52ND FESTIVAL DI SANREMO. ITALY Rai 1. 3 May. TVR: 28.6

This song competition is Italy's most popular show and regularly pulls in more than half of Italy's TV audiences. Bet Italians have more fun heckling it than watching it, though.

Ratings data supplied by IM Futures. TVRs are against all individuals.

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