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Channel 4 achieves largest documentary ratings since Benefits Street as millions tune in to watch Diana tapes

Channel 4 achieved its highest television ratings for the screening of a documentary in over three years on Sunday night after a peak audience of 4.1m tuned in to watch ‘Diana In Her Own Words’.

Overall, the broadcaster won 16.4 per cent of the audience share with an average of 3.5m viewers tuning in to watch the controversial programme which has been Channel 4’s most watched show in over a year.

The last time Channel 4 pulled in more viewers was in April 2016 during an edition of Gogglebox. It is also the most successful documentary to air since Benefits Street in 2014.

However, despite all of the press coverage and reaction prior to broadcast, Channel 4 was still unable to top BBC One’s Poldark which won 4.9m viewers.

The 110 minute programme broadcast recordings of Diana where she spoke candidly about her life in The Royal Family and relationship with the Prince of Wales.

The tapes were recorded while Diana was undertaking tutorials with voice coach Peter Settelen over the course of a year. The tapes were found during a police raid at the house of Diana’s former butler, Paul Burrell.

A legal battle for the tapes took place; however, six of them were returned to Settelen. It is believed that Settlen has been paid a fee to let the tapes be broadcast; however, he has not appeared in the documentary.

Diana is open and upfront about her marriage to Charles and other personal experiences.

Another senior source said that Harry and William “don’t want to pour fuel on the flames of the story as all that will do is increase viewing figures for Channel 4 and the film.”

The publishing of the tapes has been widely criticised by many, including some who were close to Diana, Princess of Wales. Ex-palace press officer Dickie Arbiter described the film as “immoral.”

Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer, wrote to the network asking them to not air the controversial film.

However, Channel 4 has defended the publishing of the tapes by making the case that they are not actually private exchanges. Ralph Lee, Channel 4’s Head of Factual said, “I think they will say that’s a public figure sitting down and being interviewed.

“The word that has been used is that this is ghoulish… but no one could see this and say the content is ghoulish. I simply don’t agree with that.”

Additional reporting by Jordan Cavell

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