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

1. CBS Sunday Movie: 9/11. CBS, Sunday 10 March. TVR: 14.5

It will be a very long time before anyone will be able to make flippant remarks about the subject of this film. Because that would of course be in unconscionable bad taste. But it must be pointed out that on this side of the Atlantic, the convenience store chain actually opens earlier. Two whole hours earlier.

2. FRIENDS. NBC, Thursday 16 May. TVR: 12.9

Oh! My! God! Superficially, Friends might look as if it's limping rather pathetically toward the abattoir, but it still pulls the ratings in this crucial Thursday peaktime slot. This is the one where Monica, Ross, Chandler, Joey, Rachel and Phoebe put in an outrageous pay claim. With hilarious consequences. Recorded in front of a live studio audience.

3. CSI. CBS, Thursday 26 September. TVR: 11.7

Crime Scene Investigation hasn't really taken off in the UK, despite the best efforts of Five. Its quirky, stark visual style (CSI, not Five, naturally) has "cult viewing" written all over it. But with its detailing of gruesome murders and equally gruesome post-mortems, this procedural drama is not for the faint of heart.

4. ER. NBC, Thursday 9 May. TVR: 9.4

What a glorious year this has been for our reigning monarch and how gratifying it is that this drama (set, perhaps oddly, in a hospital casualty department) about her illustrious predecessor has been so popular with our American cousins.

5. SURVIVOR AFRICA. CBS, Thursday 10 January. TVR: 9.2

The winner was Ethan Zohn, which many thought was a misprint for the entertainer formerly known as Reg Dwight. The show contained compelling evidence that there is a God. Ethan beat a man called Lex to the money. Lex, who was until recently the marketing director of an internet company, is the man who spent your pension.

6. WILL & GRACE. NBC, Thursday 7 February. TVR: 9.1

You'd expect this sitcom to be as camp as a row of tents, given that its two male leads are openly gay New York men. But that's the thing about camp - when you come right out in the open the whole thing almost always loses its twinkle. Hang on ... we should rephrase that.

7. SURVIVOR MARQUESAS. CBS, Thursday 7 March. TVR: 8.9

Normally, we wouldn't list two versions of the same show but this one is included primarily to illustrate how brilliant the ITV schedulers are. Survivor is, of course, the hottest TV format in the world. It has been a hit absolutely everywhere. It's totally idiot proof. Isn't it? (The answer to this question is to be found in the UK top ten programmes list.)

8. RAYMOND. CBS, Monday 23 September. TVR: 8.9

Every generation produces a cringeingly feeble sitcom that millions apparently love. This is ours.

9. CSI MIAMI. CBS, Monday 23 September. TVR: 8.4

What? Spin-offs already? So soon? But actually this could be the one to watch. A cult classic. It's certainly going to outgun cosy old Will & Grace in the camp stakes, given that it features a cocky dick named Tim Speedle and his sidekick Calleigh Duquesne, a good old-fashioned Southern Belle specialising in ballistics. No, really.

10.AMERICAN IDOL. Fox, Wednesday 4 September. TVR: 8.4

Simon "Trousers" Cowell (and who better) leads this US parade of the tiresomely talentless.

Ratings data supplied by Zenith Media. TVRs are against all individuals.

Become a member of Campaign

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to, plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events.

Become a member

What is Campaign AI?

Our new premium service offering bespoke monitoring reports for your company.

Find out more

Looking for a new job?

Get the latest creative jobs in advertising, media, marketing and digital delivered directly to your inbox each day.

Create an alert now

Partner content