Bollywood duo top new BFI poll revealing favourite film and TV couples

⦁ Raj and Simran from Bollywood classic Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge voted favourite romantic couple in the UK and internationally
⦁ Outlander’s Claire and Jamie top international TV poll, Poldark’s Ross and Demelza win British hearts
⦁ 3 gay couples appear across the two polls in Brokeback Mountain, Torchwood, and Glee
⦁ British audiences love ‘will they, won’t they’ couples

The BFI today reveals the favourite couples from the world of film and TV, as voted for by the British public, as well as thousands of people from around the globe. Top film couple, both in the UK and internationally, is Raj and Simran from the film that defined the word Bollywood Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995), or DDLJ as it is better known, which celebrated its 20th anniversary this year. The result comes on the day of the worldwide release of Dilwale (2015), the latest in a number of films to reunite actors Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol on screen. The accolade of top TV couple overall (and also in the Scottish vote) goes to newcomers Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Jamie (Sam Heughan) from fantasy adventure Outlander (2014), from Amazon Prime’s VOD service, with Ross (Aidan Turner) and Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson) from BBC1’s Poldark (2015) topping the British vote. The poll was conducted as part of the BFI’s major UK-wide season dedicated to romance on the big and small screen – BFI LOVE in partnership with Plusnet.

The TV poll shows the British audiences are loyal to their region with the pioneering Newcastle-set sitcom Boy Meets Girl (2015) starring transgender actor Rebecca Root as Judy, a transgender woman in her forties who falls in love with Leo (Henry Hepple), ten years her junior, topping the poll in the North East of England; the Highland adventure Outlander topping the vote in Scotland; and Cornish-set Poldark topping the poll in the South West. (The full regional results are available below.) The TV poll in particular reflects audiences’ love of the anticipation of romance and ‘will they, won’t they’ couples, with Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) from The X Files (1993-2002), The Doctor (David Tennant) and Rose (Billie Piper) from Doctor Who (2005-present), Chuck (Ed Westwick) and Blair (Leighton Meester) from Gossip Girl (2007-12) and Tim (Martin Freeman) and Dawn (Lucy Davis) from The Office (2001-03) all featuring in the top ten.

While the TV poll is dominated by contemporary couples, the film poll results demonstrate that classic couples still resonate with audiences, with top ten appearances from Gone With the Wind‘s (1939) Rhett (Clark Gable) and Scarlett (Vivien Leigh), Casablanca‘s (1942) Rick (Humphrey Bogart) and Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) and the eponymous heroes of When Harry Met Sally… (1989), played by Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan, which is currently back in cinemas across the UK as part of BFI LOVE. Also performing very strongly are Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) from Richard Linklater’s Before Trilogy (1995, 2004, 2013) which comes at number 2 in the film poll. With Star Wars The Force Awakens primed to become the biggest selling film of all time, Sci-Fi fan favourites Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) sneak into the top ten at number 10 – fans await the fate of the couple with baited breath over thirty years since they last graced our screens in Return of the Jedi (1983).

Both polls also feature iconic gay couples, with Glee‘s Kurt (Chris Colfer) and Blaine (Darren Criss) being just pipped to the top spot in the TV poll, and Torchwood‘s (2006-11) Jack (John Barrowman) and Ianto (Gareth David-Lloyd) coming in at number 5; meanwhile the heart-breaking romance between Jack (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Ennis (Heath Ledger) in Ang Lee’s Oscar-winning Brokeback Mountain (2005) struck a chord with audiences, being voted into the film top ten at number 7.

DDLJ, starring Bollywood legends Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol, may not be very familiar to some UK audiences, but there is no denying that the film is quite simply a worldwide phenomenon. It turned its stars into Bollywood megastars, and holds the world record for the longest continuous plays in a cinema, having being screened daily in the Maratha Mandir Cinema in Mumbai every day since its release over 20 years ago. As part of the BFI’s LOVE season the BFI Southbank worked with Yash Raj Films to celebrate the film with a special 20th anniversary complete with Bollywood dancers and a nationwide competition to find the UK’s ‘real Raj and Simran’.

The result of the TV poll is perhaps surprising, with Amazon Prime’s Outlander taking the top spot – the fact that a couple from a TV series only available on-demand demonstrates how significant VOD has become as audiences’ viewing habits change. Outlander follows Claire, a married WWII nurse in 1945, who is thrust back in time 200 years, when she encounters the dashing highland warrior Jamie and becomes embroiled in the Jacobite risings. Based on the historical time-travel novels by Diana Gabaldon and shot on location in Scotland the show has built a dedicated and vocal online fandom, who have helped propel it to the top of the BFI’s Greatest TV couples poll.

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