Holiday ratings round-up: 9.9m welcome new ‘Doctor Who’ companion

The festive period was a mixture of new beginnings and fond farewells for our favourite TV shows.

Overnight ratings this Christmas were lower than previous years but this is a pattern that has emerged over the last 12 months and the increasing popularity of services such as the iPlayer go some way to explain this downturn.

The first major TV event of Christmas was the final episode of Merlin on Christmas Eve which enthralled a consolidated figure of 7.8m viewers. This was slightly down on the penultimate episode of the show, but it was up against The Snowman and the Snowdog on Channel 4 which, with 4.9m (18%) viewers, was the channel’s fourth most watched show of 2012.

Channel 4’s other Christmas Eve output included the final episode of the current series of Peep Show with 1.1m (4.5%) viewers and the Friday Night Dinner Christmas special (shown on a Monday) which had 1.2m (5.4%) people round to sample the sprouts.

Comedy on BBC One did particularly well on Christmas Eve as Outnumbered entertained 7.8m (31.4%) of us. However, the most popular show on Christmas Eve was, perhaps surprisingly, Mrs Brown’s Boys with 8.8m viewers, a figure the show was set to exceed on Boxing Day.

The BBC dominated the Christmas Day ratings as usual with (soaps aside) Downton Abbey being the only big hitter ITV1 had to offer. However, the period drama could only manage 7.3m viewers on the overnights, rising to 10.3m (31.6%) in the consolidated ratings (including ITV1+1).

This was a figure only slightly higher than the Beeb’s Call the Midwife, which managed 10.2m (33.9%) from an overnight rating of 7.3m viewers.

Christmas Day also saw Doctor Who return to our screens with our first (proper) look at the Time Lord’s new, intriguing companion. The show pulled in 7.6m viewers overnight in an earlier than usual time slot but rose to 9.9m (38.8%) viewers in the consolidated ratings. The Royle Family completed the Christmas Day offerings and squeezed a consolidated 9.9m (32%) people onto the sofa with them.

On Boxing Day ITV1 struggled to shake off the post-turkey fatigue as their adaption of Ian Rankin’s Doors Open only managed a disappointing 2.2m (10%) viewers. BBC One, in contrast, found its second wind as the debut episode of Miranda‘s third series managed 9.5m (37.8%) viewers and Mrs Brown’s Boys‘ second festive offering built on its earlier success with 9m viewers and an audience share of 36.9%.

Alfred Hitchcock’s darker side got an airing on Boxing Day as BBC Two’s The Girl recounted the famous director’s obsession with Tippi Hedren to an audience of 1.8m (7.5%).

On Thursday 27th John Bishop’s Panto! was seen by 2.7m (11.4%) viewers (oh no it wasn’t, etc.) and the first episode of two-part drama Restless debuted to 5.6m (24.2%) on BBC One. The show concluded on the 28th with a slightly lower 4.9m (21.7%) but still won its time slot.

Finally, New Year’s Day proved to be prosperous for Miranda and Mrs Brown’s Boys as they continued their success into 2013 with 9m (32.5%) and 8.1m (29.8%) viewers respectfully.

Watch the Doctor Who Christmas special trailer…

All data was supplied by Attentional, Digital Spy and The Guardian.

What did you enjoy on TV over Christmas? Let us know below…

> Read more from Chris in his blog, Boyle’s Law.