BBC wins ratings battle against ITV despite plans to boycott channel

Strictly: Janette Manrara says dance in final was ‘so special’

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Campaigners have been urging viewers to boycott the BBC and to avoid using the broadcaster between Christmas and New Year. They say the licence fee model means the broadcaster has been allowed to rely on getting funding regardless of what it puts on air. It comes after the channel received backlash from viewers over its Christmas Day TV line-up. The BBC were criticised for airing a similar TV line-up to Christmas Day 2020.

Shows including Strictly Come Dancing, Mrs Brown’s Boys and Call the Midwife aired on December 25, and they were scheduled in the same order as last year.

Over the rest of the festive period, the BBC is showing a large number of repeats.

Between December 18 and December 31, nearly a third of all programmes on BBC One are repeats.

Three-quarters of BBC Two’s line-up are shows which have aired before.

Despite the backlash from viewers, the broadcaster defied the odds, as they hit their highest Christmas Day ratings – securing eight of the top 10 programmes on Christmas Day.

ITV took eighth and ninth place with their episodes of Emmerdale and Coronation Street.

Strictly Come Dancing’s Christmas special proved to be a firm favourite, claiming the most viewers outside of the Queen’s festive message.

The Strictly special, which was won by pop star Anne-Marie, was watched by an average of 5.8 million viewers, according to overnight figures from the BBC.

The Queen’s Christmas broadcast, which was around 10 minutes long, was watched by 7.4 million viewers.

During her speech, the royal reflected on the death of her beloved husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, and the continuing impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Third place went to Call The Midwife with 4.7 million viewers, while Michael McIntyre’s Christmas Wheel followed closely behind with 4.6 million viewers.

Blankety Blank took fifth place with 4.2 million viewers.

Sixth place was taken by Mary Poppins Returns, the 2018 sequel to the 1964 film, with 3.7 million viewers tuning in, while animated production Superworm was in seventh with 3.34 million.

On ITV, Coronation Street secured 3.25 million viewers, while Emmerdale was watched by 3 million.

In 10th place, the festive EastEnders special had an audience of 2.9 million.

BBC One sitcom Mrs Brown’s Boys, which usually secures high audience numbers, did not feature in the top 10.

Speaking about the latest statistics, Charlotte Moore, the BBC’s chief content officer, said: “Viewers chose the BBC on Christmas Day and entertained them in their millions, with Strictly taking the top spot.

“Nothing brings the country together at Christmas quite like the BBC, there was something for everyone with the seven most popular programmes across the day that caps off a brilliant year on the BBC, celebrating British creativity where we have delivered hits and award-winning work and seen huge audiences come to our shows.

“It’s these moments, in a time of intense competition, that prove that after 99 years the BBC matters more than ever.

“We have an ambitious and exciting year ahead in 2022 to mark our centenary year with an unmissable range of world-class content that will celebrate and reflect the unique role the BBC continues to play in the lives of audiences across the UK.”

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