Still Open All Hours tops 2013 festive TV ratings

Friday 27th December 2013, 6:29pm

Still Open All Hours. Image shows from L to R: Leroy (James Baxter), Granville (David Jason). Copyright: BBC.Still Open All Hours, the new special starring Sir David Jason, has been named the most-watched programme over the Christmas period.

BBC comedy shows have performed very well in the TV ratings over the last three days, with the one-off sitcom special, based on the classic 1970s and 1980s series, attracted a peak audience of 10 million on Boxing Day.

The comedy focused on Granville, who has inherited the grocery shop from his beloved but miserly Uncle Arkwright and now runs it with the help of his son Leroy (played by James Baxter, pictured with David Jason).

According to initial overnight figures, the comedy won a 35.5% share of all TV viewing between 7:45pm and 8:15pm on the 26th, averaging an impressive 9.43 million viewers across its half hour run and making it the most popular show of the festive period.

The first of two new Mrs Brown's Boys specials also performed very well in the ratings. Scheduling the show on Christmas Day for the first time proved to be a wise move by the BBC, with the bawdy sitcom averaging 9.4 million viewers.

Broadcast at 9:30pm on Christmas Day - the busiest day for television viewing - the sitcom also attracted 35.5% of all viewers during its half-hour runtime. BBC One boss Charlotte Moore, commented: "Nothing brings the country together at Christmas quite like BBC One. Huge audiences shared the Christmas Day schedule on the nation's favourite channel winning four out of the top five most popular shows. Mrs Brown's Boys took the top spot with 9.4 million viewers."

The two comedies have performed so well they've posted better ratings than the BBC and ITV flagship drama and entertainment formats that normally dominate viewing. Doctor Who peaked at 10.2m viewers as The Thick Of It's Peter Capaldi took over as the new Doctor, but averaged fewer viewers (8.3m) as a whole programme.

The two sitcoms also performed better than Coronation Street (7.91m), EastEnders (7.78m), The Queen's annual address (7.51m), Strictly Come Dancing (7.3m), Call The Midwife (7.08m) and Downton Abbey (6.59m).

The other popular new comedy shows broadcast between Christmas Eve and Boxing Day were David Walliams's comic drama Gangsta Granny with 5.79m viewers; the series finale of Last Tango In Halifax with 5.64m (the show has now been given a third series); and Lee Mack's popular gag-packed sitcom Not Going Out, which scored 4.75m.

The figures above are based on early overnight data and will all increase - possibly with positions changing - as recorded viewing, repeats and online streaming services such as iPlayer are taken into account.

For Christmas 2012, the top rated show of the period was the BBC sitcom Miranda, which attracted over 9.47 million viewers on Boxing Day.

Mrs. Brown's Boys. Image shows from L to R: Mark Brown (Pat Shields), Agnes Brown (Brendan O'Carroll). Copyright: BBC / BocPix.

A second new Mrs Brown's Boys special, which sees the central character preparing for a New Year's Eve party (pictured), is due to air on the 30th December.

An early indication in viewers' interest in seeing David Jason reprise his Open All Hours role was revealed when the recording was first announced. The episode, which was filmed at the BBC's studios in Salford on the 3rd December, had a capacity of just 360 audience seats but the producers have revealed the BBC received more than 28,000 applications for tickets.

The high ratings for Still Open All Hours, combined with generally favourable viewer feedback on social media, potentially paves the way for a full series of the shop-based sitcom to now be commissioned.

Writer Roy Clarke said in a recent newspaper interview: "I think there's a huge audience out there for my kind of less acid comedy. It's an age thing. I think people grow into it. It's an audience that's been overlooked for some years now."

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