The Only Way is Essex is the most complained about programme on ITV’s channel dedicated entirely to reality TV.

Towie has been the subject of 257 complaints in the past five years, making up 75 per cent of all complaints submitted about programmes on ITVBe. The complaints were made to the UK’s TV regulator, Ofcom.

There were Towie links to the second and third most complained about shows on ITVBe as well.

Former star Fearne McCann’s First Time Mum show received 45 complaints between 2016 and 2021, while another former star, Gemma Collins’s programme, Diva Forever, received a total of 14.

The data was analysed by comparison website, USwitch, which has been researching Ofcom complaints for TV shows.

It found more than 174,000 complaints had been made about programmes, with 23 per cent of those about shows in the reality TV genre.

Researchers also say there was an increase in complaints between 2019 and 2020 – before and after the first coronavirus lockdown was enforced in the UK.

The most complained about programme in the past five years was Good Morning Britain with more than 70,000 complaints.

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In second was Celebrity Big Brother, third was Britain’s Got Talent, fourth was Loose Women and Love Island came fifth.

Nick Baker, broadband expert at Uswitch, said: “Over the past year, we have had more time than ever to watch television, with it providing joy and escapism for many of us out there. But sometimes we may see something on TV that we find, inaccurate, offensive, or even harmful.

“The research has shown that each year, more complaints are being upheld and investigated by Ofcom under the Broadcasting Code - with a significant peak in the last twelve months.

“If you believe that something you have watched on TV has breached the Ofcom Broadcasting Code, then you can complain directly to Ofcom who will assess the complaint against its fairness and privacy guidelines and pass the findings along to the channel or producers in question.

“However, it is worth noting that not all streaming platforms are regulated by Ofcom, so any complaints for shows not on the main TV channels would have to be made to the provider directly.

“For many of us, streaming is one of the main ways that we watch TV and with so much content at our fingertips, it can feel overwhelming when deciding what programmes to watch and which platforms to subscribe to.

“From sitcoms to feature films, if you’re looking for something new to watch, check out our streaming guide to help you choose the platform which matches your viewing preferences.”