EastEnders wins Christmas Day TV ratings battle

EastEnders character Phil Mitchell EastEnders' dramatic storylines pulled in more than 10 million viewers

EastEnders has won the Christmas Day TV ratings war for the third year running, overnight figures show.

At its peak, it had 10.2 million viewers while ITV's Coronation Street got 9.9 million. The shows averaged 9.9m and 9.3 million respectively.

In a strong showing for ITV, the Downton Abbey Christmas special was the third most watched at its peak, with BBC One's Doctor Who in fourth.

The Queen's Speech, broadcast on both BBC and ITV, was viewed by 8.2 million.

Based on average viewing figures, the positions for Downton Abbey and Doctor Who were reversed, with the BBC One show attracting 8.9m and the ITV period drama averaging 8.6m over its two-hour special.

Other most-watched shows, based on 15-minute peaks, were BBC hit Strictly Come Dancing in sixth place, followed by a revival of 1990s comedy Absolutely Fabulous.

ITV's Emmerdale had 7.1 million viewers at its peak, putting it in eighth place, following by another ITV show, All Star Family Fortunes.

Christmas Day viewing figures

  1. EastEnders - BBC One - 10.2 million peak (9.9 million average)
  2. Coronation Street - ITV - 9.9 million (9.3 million)
  3. Downton Abbey - ITV - 9.1 million (8.6 million)
  4. Doctor Who - BBC One - 9 million (8.9 million)
  5. Queen's Speech - BBC One and ITV - 8.2 million (8.2 million)
  6. Strictly Come Dancing - BBC One - 8 million (7.5 million)
  7. Absolutely Fabulous - BBC One - 7.9 million (7.4 million)
  8. Emmerdale - ITV - 7.1 million (6.7 million)
  9. All Star Family Fortunes - ITV - 6.9 million (6.4 million)
  10. The Gruffalo's Child - BBC One - 6.8 million (6.5 million) and Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow - BBC One - 6.8 million (6.4 million)

Source: BARB overnight figures, based on 15-minute peaks and average viewers over entire shows

Animated film the Gruffalo's Child on BBC One came in joint 10th for peak audiences, with Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow.

ITV's performances were boosted by the fact that the figures include viewers watching shows on its ITV1+1 channel, while the BBC does not have an equivalent service.

However, the BBC does repeat EastEnders on BBC Three and that screening attracted a peak of 867,000 Christmas Day viewers - pushing the soap past the 11 million mark.

The top show on BBC Two was a repeat of the Porridge Christmas special and Christmas University Challenge, which both peaked with a 2.2 million audience.

Animated film Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs was most popular on Channel 4, with 2.5 million tuning in.

Meanwhile, top spot on Channel Five was shared by Christmas films Mrs Miracle 2 and The Santa Suit, and Eddie Stobart: Trucks and trailers.

Referring to EastEnders, BBC One controller Danny Cohen said: "BBC One had the most popular show and the most viewers overall on Christmas Day.

"From Doctor Who to Gruffalo's Child, EastEnders to Strictly, Michael McIntyre and Ab Fab, we wanted to provide something for everyone."

George Entwistle, also from the BBC, added: "The breadth and quality of the BBC's output has been really impressive across all genres and today's figures are testament to that."

BBC entertainment correspondent Lizo Mzimba said: "While the BBC has again won the overnight ratings battle, this is ITV's strongest showing for years.

"In 2010, only two of its programmes made it into the Christmas Day top 10. The year before only one.

"And a decline in Christmas Day terrestrial viewing appears to be continuing.

"This is the first year no programme managed an average viewership of 10 million or more."

All the figures are based on overnight average figures produced by BARB, which do not take into account viewers who will watch shows at a later date on the BBC iPlayer or the ITV Player, or other catch-up services.



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  • rate this

    Comment number 179.

    Oh and by the way a TV License is a waste of money and you can write to the TV license company to say you only want your tv for dvds and still watch iplayer as long as its not live. So much better knowing that I never have to risk seeing as much as an advert for Eastenders. And I save £150 a year.

  • rate this

    Comment number 178.

    A question I have always wanted to ask is this. Will the screaming and terrified babies and toddlers used as child actors have a right to sue the BBC for child abuse when they realise they were cast in this violent and chaotic soap {Eastenders...of course] without their consent?

  • rate this

    Comment number 177.

    your boxing days eastender was very very disturbing

  • rate this

    Comment number 176.

    How long is this manic depresive shouting match going on?

  • rate this

    Comment number 175.

    @120: I can asure you that those who research the audience figurees do it properly. For years my TV was connected to a box which fed them the information about what I watched - and if my viewing patterns changed I received a phone call asking if this was accurate. And, by the way, I never watch such rubbish as East Enders or Coronation Street

  • rate this

    Comment number 174.

    yes,ok,so what,it's not real,perhaps you may have overlooked that? lol

  • rate this

    Comment number 173.

    What does it say about us when the most watched TV programme at Christmas is a soul-depressing soap where apparently nothing good ever seems to happen? It can't be a need for escapism because no one but a masochist would ever want to escape to the kind of world Eastenders portrays.

  • rate this

    Comment number 172.

    It doesn't really matter what sort of dross the BBC wants to show us we have to hit the OFF button very frequently, My wife has a hearing problem abd because the BBC insists on playing very poor quality music at the same time people are talking it makes viewing (and listening) impossible.The BBC's advice on how to deal with this problem is crass. Answefind something else to do!

  • rate this

    Comment number 171.

    Nice to know that yet another programme with few mitigating virtues other than misrepresenting the East end and London in General has won an award. Fortunately I have never watched it since Dirty Den took a hike as it got more preposterous, like the rest of the soaps.

  • rate this

    Comment number 170.

    Apart from the Queen's Speech, there was absolutely nothing worth watching on Christmas Day on ANY channel. And the Queen's Speech was for my elderly Mum but was strangely impressive.

  • rate this

    Comment number 169.

    Mrs Brown's Boys, my third programme watched from the offering of "Christmas Viewing", great to have her back.
    BBC got all my Christmas viewing, 3 programmes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 168.

    Just watched David Jasons new sitcom, Very painfull to watch, I lasted 15 mins !

  • rate this

    Comment number 167.

    The most brain numbing substances after drugs and alchohol.

  • rate this

    Comment number 166.

    We watched Doctor Who and Ab Fab, and that was it! Nothing more!

    We had a wonderful day with visiting friends around an open fire, lovely food, music, chat, it felt so free from the usual same-ole same-ole, we're going to do the same next year and onwards :-)

    The decline in Christmas Day terrestrial viewing QUALITY brought us to this and long may it continue.

  • rate this

    Comment number 165.

    I wondered if any of the actors in Eastenders let their own children watch the program.
    I for one think it, and many other similar programs should have a Government Health Warning displayed, or better still taken off the box altogether.
    Downton Abbey best program on TV for years, it might do a bit of good if people watched that instead of the other rubbish.

  • rate this

    Comment number 164.

    Just watched the most recent episode of Eastenders and we all agree that whoever wrote this episode should be ashamed of themselves. The BBC really needs to take stock of the quality of their scriptwriters as we have never watched so much rubbish in our lives. Drop me an email and I will come and write the scripts for you as the current staff are clearly not up to it. Come on BBC sort it out.

  • rate this

    Comment number 163.

    The acting is such poor standard that I don't know where to start. The story lines were so poor I just could not believe how stupid humans can be. I saw so many fake tears, acting scenes that made no bearing at all to reality, wife going back in with a husband suspected of murder for coffee. Two men that should never be in the same room fighting, were do I stop just poor poor poor all round.

  • rate this

    Comment number 162.

    Why the shouting the fighting week in week out

  • rate this

    Comment number 161.

    OMG what a load of rubbish, i cant beleive I have sat and watched utter rubbish, so unrealistic. A man who has had his wife taken away by an ex and abused and his child taken etc .then he wants to save him..in the real world I dont think so..and after a fire they leave the main man in there to face the same geeza ..oh dear wot next.. the writers have lost the plot with reallity..sort it out.

  • rate this

    Comment number 160.

    Eastenders, never been able to stand it, the characters are rude, nasty, miserable morons, the women, men and even the children. Never met any real Eastender with the attitudes of the characters in this programme, they have always been friendly, helpful and good fun, once had a boyfriend of with a cockney dad and he was a fantastic person. Don't watch Coronation Street either, pathetic whingers.


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