The Doctor had ideal Christmas prescription
DEL BOY may be the face of Christmas past but, if the latest TV ratings are anything to go by, Doctor Who is the one to watch after the annual turkey dinner.
More than 12 million viewers – half of the available audience – tuned in to see David Tennant team up with Kylie Minogue for the Christmas Day special.
It was the highest-rating Doctor Who episode since the Time Lord was revived by BBC Wales and Swansea writer Russell T Davies almost three years ago.
While Only Fools And Horses used to be the main staple of Christmas Day TV, as millions tuned in to watch David Jason as Del Boy, it seems Doctor Who is now becoming vital festive viewing.
Last year 8.7 million viewers – a 37% share – tuned in for the Doctor’s Christmas special. But with a guest appearance from Minogue, who played a waitress on the Titanic, millions more fans made sure they didn’t miss it this year, making it the highest-rating programme outside the traditional rating-winning soap operas.
According to official figures revealed by the BBC, the most popular programme screened on Christmas Day was EastEnders, which received its best Christmas Day viewing figures for three years.
The second instalment at 8pm was watched by 13.9 million – more than two million more viewers than last year’s Christmas favourite, The Vicar of Dibley.
The EastEnders episode – which showed the aftermath of Stacey and Max’s affair being uncovered – was also the highest viewed programme of 2007 for the BBC. The second highest was the 2007 New Year’s Day showing of The Vicar of Dibley, which attracted 13.1 million viewers and a 45.4% share of the audience.
Almost 10 million viewers tuned in to see the revival of sitcom To The Manor Born, starring Penelope Keith and Peter Bowles, and six million people watched the Queen’s annual broadcast at 3pm – an audience share of 41.7%
On ITV, Coronation Street was watched by almost nine million viewers.
BBC1’s acting controller, Roly Keating, said, “It’s heartening to see that the great tradition of Christmas family viewing seems to be alive and well.
“We were delighted that audiences found so much to enjoy in our line-up of programmes on BBC1.
“From the compelling drama of EastEnders to a spectacular Doctor Who and the welcome return of To The Manor Born, this was a Christmas when some of the nation’s favourite performers and writers did us all proud.”
Meanwhile, for those who missed the Christmas Day episode of Doctor Who, there will be another chance to view it at special screenings in cities throughout the UK today. The BBC is screening the show on a non-stop loop. The outdoor screenings, taking place in Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Hull, Derby, Rotherham and Bradford, have been set up to promote the BBC’s catch-up service the iPlayer.
The iPlayer allows viewers to download or stream BBC programmes online, for free, up to seven days after they have been broadcast.
TV fans will also be able to catch up with the Queen’s Christmas message and EastEnders on the service.
Ashley Highfield, director of future media and technology at the BBC, said, “We’re hoping that people, if they are brave enough to face the weather, will come out to watch Doctor Who, if they’ve missed it on Christmas Day.”
Sir David Attenborough, Jo Whiley and Jeremy Clarkson are launching the BBC’s first marketing campaign for the iPlayer.
Mr Highfield said the on- demand service could prevent family rows about what to watch on the box.
He said, “A lot of families together on Christmas Day often end up somewhat compromised in terms of what they want to watch. Maybe this will preserve a bit of sanity in the home.”