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Gavin and Stacey return tops Christmas Day viewing figures (2019)

Gavin & Stacey

Story by Jack Foley

THE return of Gavin and Stacey achieved the best Christmas Day TV ratings for more than a decade, according to early ‘overnight’ figures.

The Christmas special, written by and starring James Corden and Ruth Jones, was watched by an average of 11.6 million viewers on BBC One with half (49.2%) of all TV viewers tuned in at its air time of 20.30pm (GMT).

The episode, which delighted fans when it was first announced earlier this year, revisited Gavin, Stacey, Smithy and Nessa nearly 10 years after they left our screens. And it proved a critical and fan hit, with Twitter alight with gushing praise for some time afterwards.

Corden and Jones Tweeted ahead of the special: “We had to be together to watch it go out tonight. Gavin and Stacey is a show about friendship and family. Tonight’s show has been a labour of love from start to finish and we hope you enjoy it. Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing. Happy Christmas from us both.”

Co-star Rob Brydon, who reprised the role of uncle Bryn, thanked fans for their kind comments afterwards, Tweeting: “Thanks for your lovely Tweets. I’m having another Archers to celebrate.”

Catch up viewing figures for Gavin & Stacey have also been strong, with the show standing an outside chance of overtaking the Line of Duty finale as the most watched programme of 2019.

Elsewhere on Christmas Day, the next most-watched programme was the Queen’s Christmas Broadcast, which was screened on BBC One, ITV and Sky and seen by 7.85 million people.

In recent years, The Queen’s annual broadcast has become the most-watched TV show, based on the overnight figures which do not include viewers who watch Christmas specials on catch-up services during the rest of the festive period. But it means that Gavin & Stacey bucked the trend and proved there is still an appetite for terrestrial TV shows, if they’re the right kind.

Strictly Come Dancing, EastEnders and Michael McIntyre’s Big Show – all on BBC One – rounded out this year’s top five shows.

The only ITV entries were soap operas Coronation Street and Emmerdale, which came in eighth and ninth respectively.

The BBC’s decision to show Disney-Pixar’s Finding Dory as its afternoon film also worked well, helping to ensure the channel rounded out the top 10 with its family film choice.

Commenting on the BBC’s success, Charlotte Moore, Director of BBC content, said: “We delivered something for everyone with the seven most-popular programmes that cap off an incredible year for BBC One celebrating British talent and creativity.”