Many Catherine Cookson novels have been transferred to stage, film and radio. It was on television, however, that she achieved her greatest media success, with a series of dramas on ITV lasting over a decade and achieving huge ratings. Eighteen Cookson adaptions were made, regularly attracting more than 10 million viewers. The first was an adaption of The Fifteen Streets (1989) starring Sean Bean and Jane Horrocks, which became hugely successful. The Black Velvet Gown (1991), with Janet McTeer, Bob Peck, Geraldine Somerville won the International Emmy award for best drama. In 1994, Catherine Zeta Jones played a lead role in The Cinder Path and the same year also saw Tracy Whitwell and Ray Stevenson in The Dwelling Place. Ray Stevenson also appeared in The Tide of Life (1996) with Gillian Kearney and future Rome co-star James Purefoy. Another very popular movie was the 1995 adaption of 'The Gambling Man' starring Robson Green.
Other televised adaptations include: The Mallens (1979–1980) with John Hallam and Juliet Stevenson; The Black Candle (1991) with Nathaniel Parker and Samantha Bond; The Man Who Cried (1993) with Ciarán Hinds and Amanda Root; The Glass Virgin (1995) with Nigel Havers Emily Mortimer and Brendan Coyle; The Girl (1996) with Jonathan Cake and Siobhan Flynn; The Moth (1997) with Jack Davenport Juliet Aubrey and Justine Waddell; The Rag Nymph (1997) with Honeysuckle Weeks, Alec Newman and Val McLane; The Wingless Bird (1997) with Claire Skinner Anne Reid and Julian Wadham;
Colour Blind (1997) with Niamh Cusack,Tony Armatrading Art Malik and Carmen Ejogo; The Round Tower (1997) with Emilia Fox Ben Miles and Dennis Lawson; Tilly Trotter (1998) with Carli Norrisand Simon Shepherd; " The Secret" (1999) with Colin Buchanan, Hannah Yelland, Elizabeth Carling and Clare Higgins; and A Dinner of Herbs (2000) with Jonathan Kerrigan,Melanie Clark Pullen Debra Stephenson, David Threlfall and Billie Whitelaw.