THE TV adaption of Sally Rooney's novel Normal People has driven BBC Three to its best-ever week on record, more than doubling the previous record.
The limited drama series, which follows Sligo natives Connell and Marianne through secondary school, college and young adulthood, has drawn incredible praise for its breathtakingly authentic depiction of modern life in rural Ireland, dealing with themes of love, consent, abuse, mental health and peer pressure.
In Ireland, the release of the show on RTÉ resulted in fiery debates on radio show Liveline, where not everyone was impressed with the-- er-- 'love' scenes, but numbers don't lie, and the show has undeniably been a massive hit.
The drama series, starring Daisy Edgar Jones and Paul Mescal and directed by Lenny Abrahamson, has been requested on BBC iPlayer a whopping 16.2 million times since its release on Sunday, 26 April, with five million of those requests coming from the 16-34 age bracket.
With 21.8 million requests on all BBC Three programmes combined during that date, Normal People is by far the most popular programme on the channel at the moment, making up over 70% of all requests.
To put this into perspective, the last record for BBC Three programmes in one week was 'just' 10.8 million, when the first series of Killing Eve was released in 2018.
Being the binge-worthy show it is, a report from BBC indicates that a quarter of all people who have requested the series have already completed all 12 episodes.
Fiona Campbell, Controller of BBC Three, says she is "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, released a joint statement in which they 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."