30 November 2023 The Irish Film & Television Network
Normal People breaks BBC Three viewing record on iPlayer with 16.2m requests
05 May 2020 : Nathan Griffin
Paul Mescal and Daisy Edgar-Jones in Normal People.
The release of Normal People has driven BBC Three to its best-ever week for programme requests on the iPlayer, more than doubling the previous record set by Killing Eve (10.8m) in 2018.

In the seven-day period since the series premiered on BBC iPlayer on Sunday 26 April, total requests for BBC Three programmes stands at over 21.8 million.

The drama, produced by Element Pictures, adapted from Sally Rooney’s novel of the same name and starring Paul Mescal and Daisy Edgar-Jones as Connell and Marianne, has been a hit with audiences and critics alike and has received over 16.2 million requests for the series in its first week of availability, with nearly five million requests from 16-34s. Of all the requests for BBC Three programmes on iPlayer, Normal People makes up for over 70 percent of the total and according to signed-in data, a quarter of all accounts requesting it have already watched the whole series.

Director Lenny Abrahamson described the record-breaking viewing figures as “hard to process” when speaking with IFTN:

“This huge response to the series is a testament to all the brilliant people - producers, cast and crew, as well as the executives at the BBC and HULU who supported us all the way - who put so much talent, skill and hard work into every aspect of the production.”

“This was a massive team effort and I’m so proud of everyone involved,” continued Abrahamson.  “And of course; there would have been nothing without Sally’s extraordinary book. Doing justice to her book was always our priority.”

Fiona Campbell, Controller, BBC Three added:

"We’re delighted that Normal People has been such a success and so many people have come to iPlayer to watch it. From the initial read-through, the phenomenal thought and preparation the directors put into everything from the aesthetics and locations through to the costumes, we felt this incredible piece would always be unique, and it's clear the audience thinks so too. It’s a modern masterpiece which has helped in catapulting the careers of two brilliant young actors, and we’re looking forward to bringing more drama to BBC Three in the future."

Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama, and Rose Garnett, Director of BBC Films, said:

"BBC audiences have been bewitched by the story of Connell and Marianne, just as we were after reading the transcript of Sally’s extraordinary novel. Taking Normal People from script to screen has been an incredible experience and we’re overwhelmed by the response. Lead writers Sally and Alice, directors Lenny and Hettie, all the team at Element Pictures and of course Daisy and Paul should all be so proud of what has been achieved."

The previous record for BBC Three was 10.8 million total requests in a week, following the release of the first series of the award-winning Killing Eve in 2018.

The highly-anticipated 12-part relationship drama stars Kildare newcomer 24-year-old Paul Mescal in his first television role as Connell, and British actress Daisy Edgar Jones (War of the Worlds, Cold Feet) in the role of Marianne. The series follows two young people navigating adulthood in contemporary Ireland and their complicated relationship from the end of their school days in Sligo to their undergraduate years at Trinity College. It also stars Sarah Greene (Dublin Murders, Rosie) and Aislín McGuckin (Outlander).

Sally Rooney adapted her coming-of-age book with Alice Birch along with Irish playwright Mark O’Rowe. Normal People has been directed by the Oscar-nominated film-maker Lenny Abrahamson and the English director Hettie Macdonald. The series was filmed in Dublin, Sligo, Sweden, and Italy. 

Normal People is an Element Pictures production for BBC Three and Hulu in association with Screen Ireland. The series is executive produced by Ed Guiney (The Favourite, Room, Dublin Murders), Andrew Lowe (The Favourite, Room, The Lobster), Emma Norton (Rosie, A Date For Mad Mary) and Anna Ferguson (No Offence, Prisoners’ Wives) for Element Pictures. Sally Rooney and Lenny Abrahamson also serve as executive producers, as well as Tommy Bulfin and Rose Garnett for the BBC. Catherine Magee (Resistance, Rebellion, Prosperity) is the producer of the series. 

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