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The Sound of Sunday Challenges Daily Mail over Blue Peter Headline

A few weeks ago, the Daily Mail published an article with the headline “Is Blue Peter sunk? Children’s show once watched by millions had NO viewers for an episode on digital TV“.  Judging by the response on social media, lots of people thought this meant that it was saying that Bue Peter has no viewers.  We sent an email via their website to ask why they had published an article with such a headline.  There were other inaccuracies within the article too.

We got no reply.

Three more emails were sent via their website with the same question.

Still no response.

It took two written letters that were by their own admission “passed around in-trays” to get a reply.

Here it is:

“The article made it clear that the broadcast was a repeat and that it did not register any viewers via the BARB system used to measure audience ratings, which does not mean that there were no viewers at all, obviously.

The reporter also double-checked the figures with ‘Overnights’ – the company which supplies the numbers. They confirmed that having zero viewers on the system meant that literally no one in a BARB household had watched the broadcast.

The article specifically states that there may still have been some youngsters tuning in (ie, because BARB is an imperfect system).

The reporter also contacted the BBC for their comments about the episode, an opportunity for them to explain the low audience. She also specifically asked for iPlayer figures and allowed a generous time period for them to respond, informing them of the article’s deadline.

Unfortunately she was not informed by the BBC that the broadcast was signed and subtitled until the day after publication, so this context could not be included in the article. Even had it been, however, it is surely reasonable to have expected the signed broadcast to register a live audience.

You are correct on one point  – that the original broadcast went out at 5.30pm – and repeated two hours later.


We will be happy to amend the online version to correct the timing and also to add that the episode included sign language and subtitles.

Thank you for taking the time and trouble to contact us. We send all good wishes for your radio station.

Kind regards

Hilary Kingsley

Readers’ Editor”


The original article actually referred to a Tuesday afternoon repeat of a show that had actually already been on 3 times and had attracted what is the show’s average audience.

Lost on the reporter was the fact that the repeat showing it is actually referring to was actually shown with sign language and subtitles.  The article now says that the Thursday evening live show had sign language and subtitles.

We did respond to the above to point out that the headline says that “an EPISODE” of Blue Peter got no viewers – which is different to saying that a particular broadcast got no viewers.  We also pointed out that after they made the correction they said they would make, they actually created a new error!

No response to that whatsoever.

A few days later though we were called by Katherine Rushton who wrote the original article.

She said she stood by the article and that it dodn’t mean that Blue Peter had no viewers and it made it clear that it was referrering to one broadcast of the programme registering zero under the measuring system.

When we pointed out that the headline clearly says an “EPISODE” of the programme got no viewers which is different to saying one particular broadcast, her answer was  “well I didn’t write the headline”.

So we tried to stick up for the world’s longest running children’s TV show.  We still think that the headline was totally wrong, and it would be interesting to know how many other programmes being broadcast at 2.30pm on that Tuesday afternoon in June also registered as zero viewers under the official system of measurement.  Almost certainly Blue Peter was not alone.







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