Byline: By PAUL ROWLAND Western Mail
Four of the 10 most watched television shows in Wales last year were based around rugby, according to a new report. The popularity of the programmes contrasts with the situation in the UK as a whole, where none of the top 10 is sports-related. The figures, released yesterday in Ofcom's Communications Market Report for Wales, prove that 'Wales is still a rugby-loving nation', according to Jamie Medhurst, of the department of film, theatre and television at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth.
While soaps hold the top spots in the lists for both Wales and the UK as a whole, the second most watched programme in Wales last year was coverage of the Six Nations Championship, while Wales on Saturday and live club rugby union also appear in the list.
Not even Match of the Day, the BBC's flagship football show, was included in the list of the top broadcasts across the UK, which featured no sports coverage whatsoever.
The list was compiled considering all free-to-air programmes available across the UK's broadcasting regions.
Mr Medhurst, who specialises in Welsh television, said, 'In a sense this just underlines the Welsh stereotype as a rugby-loving nation.
'Sport is probably the strongest regional programming we have in Wales - it's part of the Welsh identity, far more so than in England.
'It's ironic that this comes the day after the BBC announced Grandstand would be coming to an end.
'It's clear that we are still a rugby-loving nation - at least as far as television is concerned.'
The report also highlights the popularity of local programming in the UK regions, and particularly programmes that are identifiably set in a local area.
The research found that Midsomer Murders attracted larger audiences in the west of England, Doc Martin was a firm favourite in the South West where it is set, while Heartbeat and Emmerdale have a stronger following in Yorkshire. …