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In the archive
Australian content on television

Top-rating Australian documentaries on television, 1998–2009


2009

Rank Title Network Total people (‘000) Rating1
1 Border Security: Australia’s Front Line 7 1,499 10.3
2 Find My Family 7 1,488 10.2
3 Border Security: Australia’s Front Line (Monday) 7 1,480 10.2
4 The Zoo 7 1,475 10.1
5 RSPCA Animal Rescue 7 1,433 9.8
6 Surf Patrol 7 1,415 9.7
7 Triple Zero Heroes 7 1,389 9.5
8 Last Chance Surgery 7 1,378 9.5
9 Air Ways 7 1,369 9.4
10 Border Security: Australia’s Front Line (repeat) 7 1,359 9.3
11 Highway Patrol 7 1,353 9.3
12 The Force: Behind The Line 7 1,346 9.2
13 Border Security: Australia’s Front Line (Wednesday) (repeat) 7 1,285 8.8
14 Bondi Rescue 10 1,267 8.7
15 Recruits 10 1,224 8.4

Source: OzTAM; compiled by Screen Australia.

Notes:
All people, five-city metro average, 1 January to 31 December 2009, program average.
Ranked by rating. Programs with the same rating are ranked by unrounded total number of people viewing, if known.
Although not identified as such, the screening listed may be a repeat screening of the program. Repeats are indicated when known.
Any comparison of ratings data should take into account that different methodology was used to compile top-program lists before January 2005 and that a different audience measurement system applied before January 2001. See About the data for more information, including definitions of terms.
World's Strictest Parents has not been included as a documentary in the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) Australian content compliance results for 2009 so it has not been included in this listing although it was included in Screen Australia's report Documentary production in Australia, 2010, published earlier.
1. Rating is equal to TARP (Target Audience Rating Point).

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2008

Rank Title Network Total people (‘000) Rating1
1 Find My Family 7 1,803 12.7
2 The Zoo (Tuesday) 7 1,688 11.9
3 Border Security: Australia's Front Line 7 1,610 11.3
4 The Force: Behind the Line 7 1,598 11.2
5 Schapelle Corby: The Hidden Truth 9 1,589 11.2
6 Border Security: Australia's Front Line (repeat) 7 1,580 11.1
7 RSPCA Animal Rescue 7 1,578 11.1
8 RSPCA Animal Rescue (repeat) 7 1,561 11.0
9 Find My Family – Reunions 7 1,519 10.7
10 The Force: Behind the Line (repeat) 7 1,469 10.3
11 Bondi Rescue 10 1,390 9.8
12 Bondi Rescue (repeat) 10 1,364 9.6
13 Surf Patrol 7 1,363 9.6
14 Schapelle Corby: The Hidden Truth (Part 2) 9 1,280 9.0
15 Australia: Land of Parrots ABC1 1,264 8.9

Source: OzTAM; compiled by Screen Australia.

Notes:
All people, five-city metro average, 1 January to 31 December 2008, program average.
Ranked by rating. Programs with the same rating are ranked by unrounded total number of people viewing, if known.
Although not identified as such, the screening listed may be a repeat screening of the program. Repeats are indicated when known.
Any comparison of ratings data should take into account that different methodology was used to compile top-program lists before January 2005 and that a different audience measurement system applied before January 2001. See About the data for more information, including definitions of terms.
1. Rating is equal to TARP (Target Audience Rating Point).

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2007

Rank Title Network Total people (‘000) Rating1
1 The Force: Behind the Line (Monday) 7 1,845 13.1
2 Border Security: Australia’s Front Line 7 1,828 13.0
3 RSPCA Animal Rescue 7 1,709 12.2
4 Medical Emergency 7 1,695 12.1
5 Border Security: Australia’s Front Line (repeat) 7 1,558 11.1
6 Surf Patrol 7 1,454 10.3
7 RSPCA Animal Rescue (Wednesday) 7 1,396 9.9
8 RPA 9 1,372 9.8
9 Missing Persons Unit 9 1,298 9.2
10 Constructing Australia – The Bridge ABC 1,245 8.9
11 Medical Emergency (Wednesday) 7 1,242 8.8
12 Bondi Rescue (repeat) 10 1,226 8.7
13 RPA Where Are They Now? 9 1,222 8.7
14 The Sounds of Aus ABC 1,221 8.7
15 The Return of the 707 7 1,210 8.6

Source: OzTAM; compiled by the Australian Film Commission (AFC).

Notes:
All people, five-city metro average, 1 January to 31 December 2007, program average.
Ranked by rating. Programs with the same rating are ranked by unrounded total number of people viewing, if known.
Although not identified as such, the screening listed may be a repeat screening of the program. Repeats are indicated when known.
Any comparison of ratings data should take into account that different methodology was used to compile top-program lists before January 2005 and that a different audience measurement system applied before January 2001. See About the data for more information, including definitions of terms.
1. Rating is equal to TARP (Target Audience Rating Point).

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2006

Rank Title Network Total people (‘000) Rating1
1 Border Security: Australia’s Front Line 7 2,119 15.2
2 Who Killed Dr Bogle and Mrs Chandler? ABC 1,782 12.8
3 Border Security (Wednesday) 7 1,569 11.2
4 Missing Person Unit 9 1,336 9.6
5 Medical Emergency (Sunday) 7 1,181 8.5
6 RPA 9 1,165 8.3
7 The ABC of Our Lives: 50 Years of Television ABC 1,157 8.3
8 Bondi Rescue 10 1,064 7.6
9 The World Around Us – Survival in the Bush with Malcolm Douglas (Part 2) 7 1,055 7.6
10 The Good, the Bad and the Ugg Boot ABC 1,023 7.3
11 The Floating Brothel ABC 1,006 7.2
12 Dynasties ABC 998 7.1
13 My Favourite Australian Story ABC 944 6.8
14 Life At 1 ABC 940 6.7
15 Peking to Paris ABC 932 6.7

Source: OzTAM; compiled by the Australian Film Commission (AFC).

Notes:
All people, five-city metro average, 1 January to 31 December 2006, program average.
Ranked by rating. Programs with the same rating are ranked by unrounded total number of people viewing, if known.
Although not identified as such, the screening listed may be a repeat screening of the program. Repeats are indicated when known.
Any comparison of ratings data should take into account that different methodology was used to compile top-program lists before January 2005 and that a different audience measurement system applied before January 2001. See About the data for more information, including definitions of terms.
1. Rating is equal to TARP (Target Audience Rating Point).

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2005

Rank Title Network Total people
(‘000)
Rating1
1 Border Security: Australia’s Front Line 7 1,822 13.2
2 Mythbusters – Jaws Special 7 1,730 12.5
3 Graham Kennedy: The King of Television 9 1,605 11.6
4 RPA 9 1,531 11.1
5 Border Security: Australia’s Front Line 7 1,236 8.9
6 The World Around Us – Backyard Killers 7 1,068 7.7
7 Australian Story ABC 1,055 7.6
8 The World Around Us – Australia’s Deadliest Destinations 7 7 1,037 7.5
9 Outback House ABC 1,020 7.4
10 The World Around Us – Australia’s Deadliest Destinations 2 7 962 7.0
11 Dynasties ABC 957 6.9
12 The World Around Us – Australia’s Deadliest Destinations 6 7 947 6.9
13 Frank Hurley: The Man Who Made History ABC 943 6.8
14 The World Around Us – Treasures of the Australian Savannah (Part 1) 7 926 6.7
15 The Op Shop Ladies of Emerald Hill ABC 923 6.7

Source: OzTAM; compiled by the Australian Film Commission (AFC).

Notes:
All people, five-city metro average, 1 January to 31 December 2005, program average.
Ranked by rating. Programs with the same rating are ranked by unrounded total number of people viewing, if known.
Although not identified as such, the screening listed may be a repeat screening of the program. Repeats are indicated when known.
Any comparison of ratings data should take into account that different methodology was used to compile top-program lists before January 2005 and that a different audience measurement system applied before January 2001. See About the data for more information, including definitions of terms.
1. Rating is equal to TARP (Target Audience Rating Point).

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2004

Rank Title Network Sydney
Households
(‘000)
Rating
1 Australian Story – Into the Forest (Part 1) ABC 274 18.2
2 Dynasties – Durack Dreaming (The Duracks) ABC 265 17.6
3 Wild Australasia – Island Arks ABC 250 16.6
4 RPA (series) 9 242 16.1
5 The World Around Us – Greece is the Word (Part 1) 7 238 15.9
6 From the Heart – The Kimberley ABC 224 14.9
7 Our Boys: Filipe ABC 204 13.5
8 Family Story – Taylor Made ABC 204 13.6
9 Colour of War: The Anzacs – The War That Never Ends 9 203 13.5
10 Richard Morecroft Goes Wild – Dolphins: Deep Thinkers? ABC 201 13.4
11 Shipwreck Detectives – Pacific Graveyard (Part 1) ABC 200 13.3
11= In Search of the Lost Railwayman 7 200 13.3
13 Moulin Rouge Girls – Fight the Feather ABC 194 12.9
14 Kimberley Cops – End of the Road ABC 191 12.7
15 Hell on Ice ABC 181 12.1

Source: OzTAM; compiled by the Australian Film Commission (AFC).

Notes:
All Sydney metro households, 1 January to 31 December 2004.
For series, rating is for the highest-rating episode, not an average across the series.
Ranked by rating. Programs with the same rating are ranked by unrounded total number of people viewing, if known.
Although not identified as such, the screening listed may be a repeat screening of the program. Repeats are indicated when known.
Any comparison of ratings data should take into account that different methodology was used to compile top-program lists before January 2005 and that a different audience measurement system applied before January 2001. See About the data for more information, including definitions of terms.

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2003

Rank Title Network Sydney
Households (‘000)
Rating
1 RPA (series) 9 289 19.4
2 Australian Story – The Trouble With Charlie ABC 274 18.4
3 Dynasties – The Kidman Family ABC 228 15.3
4 Platypus: World's Strangest Animal ABC 210 14.1
5 A Case for the Coroner (Part 1) ABC 202 13.5
6 Love is in the Air (Part 1) ABC 198 13.3
7 Plumpton High Babies – Nowhere Else to Go ABC 191 12.8
8 Family Foibles – Upstairs Downstairs ABC 190 12.7
9 Police Training Academy – The Ties That Bind ABC 186 12.5
10 The Dalton Sisters ABC 174 11.7
11 Unfit to Command ABC 167 11.2
12 From the Heart – The Reef ABC 166 11.1
13 Outlawed: The Real Ned Kelly ABC 161 10.8
14 Treasure Hunt ABC 157 10.5
15 Big Country Revisited – Keepers of the Light ABC 157 10.5

Source: OzTAM; compiled by the Australian Film Commission (AFC).

Notes:
All Sydney metro households, 1 January to 31 December 2003.
For series, rating is for the highest-rating episode, not an average across the series.
Ranked by rating. Programs with the same rating are ranked by unrounded total number of people viewing, if known.
Although not identified as such, the screening listed may be a repeat screening of the program. Repeats are indicated when known.
Any comparison of ratings data should take into account that different methodology was used to compile top-program lists before January 2005 and that a different audience measurement system applied before January 2001. See About the data for more information, including definitions of terms.

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2002

Rank Title Network Sydney Households (‘000) Rating
1 RPA (series) 9 300 20.7
2 Australian Story – A Big Hand for Ruth ABC 278 19.2
3 Young Talent Time Tells All 10 204 14.1
4 Dynasties – The Myers of Melbourne ABC 200 13.9
5 The Murdochs ABC 188 13.0
6 Glenn Ridge's Outback 9 179 12.4
7 Alien Underworld ABC 178 12.3
8 Kimberley Cops – Gone From Diggers ABC 175 12.1
9 A Big Country Revisited – Mario II Pescatore ABC 172 11.9
10 Croc Country (Part 4) ABC 171 11.8
11 Deadly Rivals – Strictly Latin ABC 166 11.5
12 Cricket in the ‘70s: The Chappall Era (Part 2) ABC 163 11.3
13 The World Around Us – Animal Weapons 7 162 11.2
14 Australia's Island Gems 9 153 10.6
15 The Crocodile Hunter (series) 10 139 9.6

Source: OzTAM; compiled by the Australian Film Commission (AFC).

Notes:
All Sydney metro households, 1 January to 31 December 2002.
For series, rating is for the highest-rating episode, not an average across the series.
Ranked by rating. Programs with the same rating are ranked by unrounded total number of people viewing, if known.
Although not identified as such, the screening listed may be a repeat screening of the program. Repeats are indicated when known.
Any comparison of ratings data should take into account that different methodology was used to compile top-program lists before January 2005 and that a different audience measurement system applied before January 2001. See About the data for more information, including definitions of terms.

Top


2001

Rank Title Network Sydney Households (‘000) Rating
1 RPA (series) 9 352 24.8
2 Australian Story – Shining Through: Shane Gould ABC 237 16.7
3 The World Around Us – Trek around the Pilbara 7 235 16.5
4 The Crocodile Hunter (series) – A Handful of Elephants (episode) 10 215 15.1
5 The World Around Us – Shadow of the Shark – The Underwater Lives of Ron and Valerie (series) 7 214 15.1
6 The World Around Us – In the Bush with Malcolm Douglas and his Dog Boondie 7 212 14.9
7 Australian Story – Vanishing Point – The Barrow Creek Mystery ABC 209 14.7
8 The World Around Us – Cherry Blossom Trail 7 205 14.4
9 Selling Australia (series) – Tourist Town (episode) ABC 204 14.4
10 Long Way to the Top (series) – Berserk Warriors (episode) ABC 202 14.2
11 Australian Story – Best of Friends ABC 200 14.1
12 The World Around Us – Travel to the Lost City 7 200 14.1
13 The World Around Us – Caribbean Blue 7 200 14.0
14 The World Around Us – Into the Blue: The Real Blue Mountains 7 198 13.9
15 The Academy (series)– Everyone's Full Bottle Now (episode) ABC 198 13.9

Source: OzTAM; compiled by the Australian Film Commission (AFC).

Notes:
All Sydney metro households, 1 January to 31 December 2001.
For series, rating is for the highest-rating episode, not an average across the series.
Ranked by rating. Programs with the same rating are ranked by unrounded total number of people viewing, if known.
Although not identified as such, the screening listed may be a repeat screening of the program. Repeats are indicated when known.
Any comparison of ratings data should take into account that different methodology was used to compile top-program lists before January 2005 and that a different audience measurement system applied before January 2001. See About the data for more information, including definitions of terms.

Top


2000

Rank Title Network Rating
1 RPA (series) 9 28.9
2 Bronte’s Story 9 21.8
3 Who Killed Sallie-Anne? 7 21.6
4 Quentin: The World at My Wheels 10 19.7
5 Glenn Ridge's Outback (series) (repeat) 9 18.6
6 The World Around Us – Fire and Ice: The Many Moods of Thredbo (repeat) 7 17.6
7 The World Around Us – Cycling Mongolia 7 17.0
8 Our World – Leyland’s Australia (series) 9 16.5
9 Bondi (series) ABC 16.4
9= The World Around Us – Hunter Magic 7 16.4
11 Pozieres 9 16.1
12 Australian Outback Adventures – Ben Dark’s Carpentaria to Cooper Creek (repeat) 9 15.9
13 Castaways 9 15.8
14 The Human Journey (series) ABC 15.1
14= The World Around Us – The Great Australian Trek 7 15.1

Source: ACNielsen; compiled by the Australian Film Commission (AFC).

Notes:
Household viewing, 1 January to 31 December 2000.
For series, rating is for the highest-rating episode, not an average across the series.
Any comparison of ratings data should take into account that different methodology was used to compile top-program lists before January 2005 and that a different audience measurement system applied before January 2001. See About the data for more information, including definitions of terms.

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1999

Rank Title Network Rating
1 RPA (series) 9 28.2
2 Our Century (series) 9 23.8
3 Our Country (series) 9 23.2
4 Doing Time (series) 9 20.2
5 Learners (series) 7 19.3
6 The World Around Us – Magic Harbour 7 18.8
7 Our World – Call of Kakadu (repeat) 9 18.7
8 The World Around Us – Across the Roof of the World 7 18.6
9 Our World – Ben Dark’s Highways to the Top End – The Kimberley 9 18.5
10 The World Around Us – Highlands Charm 7 17.8
11 The World Around Us – Wildest Antarctica 7 17.7
12 King's School (series) ABC 17.5
13 The World Around Us – Fire and Ice: The Many Moods of Thredbo 7 16.7
14 Around Australia with Malcolm Douglas – Survival in the Outback (Part 1) (repeat) 9 16.3
15 This Fabulous Century (series) 7 16.2

Source: ACNielsen; compiled by the Australian Film Commission (AFC).

Notes:
Household viewing, 1 January to 31 December 1999.
For series, rating is for the highest-rating episode, not an average across the series.
Any comparison of ratings data should take into account that different methodology was used to compile top-program lists before January 2005 and that a different audience measurement system applied before January 2001. See About the data for more information, including definitions of terms.

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1998

Rank Title Network Rating
1 RPA (series) 9 29.0
2 Our World – Glenn Ridge: Time in the Kimberley 9 23.6
3 Our World – Nullarbor Adventure: A Breed of Their Own 9 21.9
4 Our World – Great Rail Journeys of Queensland 9 21.3
5 Our World – Africa High and Wild (series) 9 20.5
6 Our World – Deadly Australians (series) – Urban (episode) (repeat) 9 20.0
7 The World Around Us – Antarctica Alive! 7 19.9
8 Our World – Dermott Brereton: My Ireland 9 19.4
9 Our World – Bali: The Ride of Our Lives 9 19.3
10 Our World – Great Australian Train Journeys (series) – The Ghan (episode) 9 19.2
11 Our World – Australia’s Killer Creatures 9 18.8
12 The World Around Us – Blue Mountains Magic 7 18.3
13 Our World – Heartland 9 18.2
13= The World Around Us – One Wet Season 7 18.2
14 The Crocodile Hunter (series) – Outlaws of the Outback (Part 1) 9 18.1

Source: ACNielsen; compiled by the Australian Film Commission (AFC).

Notes:
Household viewing, 1 January to 31 December 1998.
For series, rating is for the highest-rating episode, not an average across the series.
Any comparison of ratings data should take into account that different methodology was used to compile top-program lists before January 2005 and that a different audience measurement system applied before January 2001. See About the data for more information, including definitions of terms.

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About the data