Mrs Brown Boy’s, Irish comedian Brendan O’Carroll’s titular foul-mouthed Irish matriarch, again came out on top as the most watched program in the UK on Christmas Day. The special episode of the sitcom, which also boasted Christmas 2013’s most popular show, drew 7.61M viewers and a share of 32.2%. Though little known in the U.S. and Europe, O’Carroll’s character is a big favorite in Britain. A feature adaptation, Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Movie, was released by Universal in the UK this year and grossed $28M.
Earlier in the day, the festive episode of the BBC’s Doctor Who beat ITV’s Downton Abbey, with the Peter Capaldi sci-fi show drawing 6.34M viewers in the overnight ratings for a share of 27.5%. Downton, in contrast, brought in 5.84M viewers, its lowest-ever Christmas Day overnight audience and a drop of over 1 million viewers from its performance in 2013. Doctor Who was also down by almost 2 million viewers from its 2013 figure of 8.29M; perhaps no surprise given that last year’s Christmas special featured the exit of previous Time Lord Matt Smith and his replacement Capaldi joining the show.
Overall numbers were down across the board, however, as viewers rely ever increasingly on DVR and catch-up technology. In a further sign of changing viewing habits, it’s worth noting that none of the five major free-to-air broadcasters aired a feature film during their evening primetime grids.
The BBC also won the battle of the soaps with Eastenders besting ITV’s Coronation Street. The former drew 7.55M viewers compared to 6.62M for Coronation Street, making it the second most watched program of the day.
In a generally solid showing for the public broadcaster, BBC One had 7M viewers on average in the 7-10:30 PM time slot, compared with ITV’s 6M. The BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing and Call The Midwife were the third and fourth most watched programs of the day, with 6.98M and 6.83M respectively.