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EastEnders wins Christmas Day viewing battle (2012)


Story by Jack Foley

EASTENDERS won the Christmas Day TV ratings battle, according to overnight figures.

The annual special episode of the long-running BBC1 soap averaged 9.4 million viewers, beating its main rival Coronation Street into second place (with an 8.6 million average).

Third place went to the Queen’s Christmas Day broadcast, with 8.3 million watching on BBC One and ITV1, while Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special and The Royle Family came fourth and fifth, respectively, to complete a resounding victory for the BBC.

Ironically, Downton Abbey – which pulled off the feat of displacing EastEnders last year – managed only sixth with 7.3m.

However, the figures for each programme are not final as overnight figures do not take into account Sky Plus or other catch-up viewing possibilities.

Last year, for instance, Downton Abbey came fourth according to the overnights but eventually rose to first because of nearly 3 million extra viewers watching after Christmas Day.

And the BBC will probably be hoping for a similar surge from Call The Midwife, which drew its smallest audience since launching earlier this year with 7.3m, just behind Downton.

Doctor Who attracted 7.6 million viewers but saw an average audience of 1.3 million fewer than in Christmas 2011.

But that was in line with Christmas viewing figures that were down for most shows, including EastEnders, which attracted half a million fewer viewings than in 2011.

Nevertheless, BBC One Controller Danny Cohen commented: “It’s been brilliant to see so many viewers watching BBC One on Christmas Day. We have many more television treats for viewers to enjoy on BBC One over the rest of the festive season.”

The figures were compiled by the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board and Television Research Partnership.

Next story: Dan Stevens explains Downton Abbey departure