Gay guys tune in for Tom Daley while lesbians watch the news

BBC surveys lesbian, gay and bi audiences and finds shows like Vicious, QI, Splash! and Top Gear score well

Gay guys tune in for Tom Daley while lesbians watch the news
29 October 2013

Young lesbians and bi women seem to enjoy factual programs but gay and bi men are glued to diver Tom Daley’s torso in Splash!.

That’s the result of a new BBC survey into what lesbian, gay and bisexual audiences in Britain are watching across the country’s TV stations.

It shows younger lesbians and bi women, aged 16 to 34 enjoy US sitcom Rules of Engagement and music panel show Never Mind the Buzzcocks. But they are also likely to tune into factual quiz shows like QI and University Challenge and to watch Channel 4 News.

By apparent contrast gay and bisexual men of the same age love Vicious, the new sitcom starring Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Derek Jacobi as a gay couple who have been together for 48 years in a love-hate relationship.

Of male viewers of the show aged 16 to 34, 36.6% are gay or bisexual.

In second place for guys in that age range is Splash! – a diving talent show fronted by young Olympic bronze medalist Tom Daley.

But when they are not watching someone else’s abs, young gay and bi guys appear to be planning ways to ruin their own – loving the Great British Bake Off, a baking talent show won by a gay man in 2012.

Surprisingly Jeremy Clarkson doesn’t put off lesbian and bi women aged 35 to 54 – even though he’s famously, albeit gently, sexist and homophobic. An estimated 6.3% of women who tune in to his zany motoring show, Top Gear, are gay.

They also enjoy their soccer with Match of the Day 2 getting similar audience levels.

Again, viewing habits for gay and bi men aged 35 to 54 are quite different. The stats show 28.6% of the people in this age bracket watching Glee are gay.

And a massive 33% of guys this age watching Unsafe Sex in the City, which looked at sex infections among young people, are gay or bi.

The next age bracket for gay and bi guys, aged 55 and over, shows different tastes again.

Gay history registers highly with a look at the life of 80s comedy legend Kenny Everett as the top scorer. And gay historian David Starkey also gets a look in with his Music and Monarchy series.

The research indicates lesbian, gay and bisexual Brits are particularly drawn to LGBTI talent and characters. This may explain some of the interest in dramas like Downtown Abbey, comedies like Modern Family and the openly-gay chat show host Alan Carr.

But as Adrian Ruth, the chair of LGBTI staff group BBC Pride, says in a blog: ‘The main headline isn’t going to set the world on fire – when it comes to the biggest shows, we are no different to the rest of the population. The big soaps dominate our consumption – Corrie, Emmerdale and EastEnders.’

As Ruth admits the sample size of the survey makes it impossible to read too much into the survey. It was run by asking adding an extra sexuality question to the usual audience survey of 20,000 people. But only a little over 1,000 identified as LGB.

All the same, BBC insiders told GSN they are likely to repeat similar surveying on at least an annual basis. Meanwhile Ruth blogs transgender people will be included in 2014 research by the BBC.

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