Which TV shows divide the generations?

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
March 11, 2019, 10:12 AM GMT+0

Gladiators, The Bill, Inspector Morse: which shows do Millennials love and Baby Boomers hate, and which have timeless appeal? YouGov Ratings has the answers.

Using popularity scores for the UK’s most well-known television programmes, broken down by generation, YouGov has compiled lists of those which divide opinion most strongly – and reveals which have timeless appeal.

Millennials vs Baby Boomers

It’s the classic 90s entertainment show Gladiators which Millennial viewers are most likely to appreciate compared to Baby Boomers. While 66% of Millennials who’ve seen the show like it, this falls to only 19% of Boomers – giving the largest difference of all UK television programmes.

In turn, Baby Boomers are much bigger fans of Inspector Morse than their younger counterparts, with fully three quarters of Boomers saying they enjoy the exploits of the eponymous detective compared to just 27% of Millennials.

Millennials vs Generation X

Channel 5’s reality show One Night With My Ex, where former couples spend one final night together deciding whether to give it another shot, most strongly separates Millennials from Gen Xers. Approaching half (46%) of Millennials that have seen the show say they like it, compared to only 15% of Generation X.

By contrast, the Kenny Everett Video Show – a comedy and music show that ran on ITV from 1978-81 – throws down the strongest divide between Generation X and those that came just after them. The show must be very much of its time, for while 58% of Gen Xers familiar with the show say they like it, that figure falls to just 24% of Millennials.

Generation X vs Baby Boomers

Hit 80s series The A-Team is the most likely to have gained the approval of Generation X but not Baby Boomers. While more than two thirds (69%) of those in Generation X who are aware of the show like it, only 42% of the piteous fools in the Baby Boomer generation who saw the show say the same.

Long running cop drama Z-Cars is the show that most entertains Baby Boomers without making much of a dent in Generation X. The show, which ran from 1962 to 1978 and gave Brian Blessed one of his first TV roles, is liked by 66% of Boomers who have seen it, but just 29% of Gen Xers.

The most unifying shows

Classic police procedural The Bill turns out to be the show that is most evenly appealing across all three generations. Close to half of those who know the show say they like it, including 47% of Millennials and Generation X and 46% of Baby Boomers.

A previous YouGov survey found that The Bill was the eighth most requested TV show to be brought back from retirement.