Research by the Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television (pact) shows has indicated that British TV shows including Doctor Who and Hell's Kitchen helped generate £1.34bn in overseas sales last year. The UK TV Exports Survey showed that sales rose by 9% in total.
The appetite for British television overseas has defied the recession and the the likes of Britain's Got Talent, Strictly Come Dancing, Dancing on Ice Masterchef and Spooks have all been re-made into successful versions in other countries.
Exports to the USA, the UK's largest market, represented 41% of the total export revenue, rising 3% to £485m. Sales in Australia and New Zealand, the fastest growing area of exports, jumped 32 per cent.
BBC productions had an especially successful year - Top Gear was sold to 170 countries while the natural history programme Life was sold to 158. In Australia, MasterChef, made by Elisabeth Murdoch's Shine, set a record last year for Australia's most watched non-sport show ever.
Big earning ITV productions include Come Dine with Me and Four Weddings, which the broadcaster produces for Channel 4 and Living TV respectively.
ITV's flagship drama Coronation Street is also shown in more than 40 countries, including Canada, where it is the number one soap opera.
Pact council member Chris Bonney said: "2009 was one of the toughest years for the media industry, so to see an increase in exports is testament to the popularity of British shows all around the world."
Distributors and production companies from around the world were contacted as part of the survey, which was sponsored by BBC Worldwide, ITV Studios Global Entertainment and UK Trade & Investment.
Comedy, crime and factual programming were identified as key areas of UK expertise; however international sales were hindered by the low number of episodes per run produced for the UK market and a shortage of returning series.
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