Gavin And Stacey success has echoes of Del Boy and Two Ronnies

By Ian Jones, PA

Not since the days of Only Fools And Horses has a Christmas Day ratings chart-topper pulled in as many viewers as Gavin And Stacey.

Some 17.1 million viewers have now seen the special episode of the sitcom broadcast on December 25 2019, according to official figures.

This outranks the ratings of the most-watched show on Christmas Day for nearly 20 years.

You have to go back to 2002, and an episode of Only Fools And Horses, to find a bigger audience (17.4 million).

(PA Graphics)

The phenomenal ratings achieved by Gavin And Stacey also halts a trend for dwindling audiences on Christmas Day.

The biggest show broadcast on December 25 2018, Call The Midwife, managed ratings of 8.7 million – roughly half that achieved by Gavin And Stacey 12 months later.

Audiences for the most-watched show on Christmas Day fell 31% between 2010 and 2018, and 40% between 2000 and 2018.

But Gavin And Stacey has comprehensively reversed this trend and made December 25 once again a place for bumper TV ratings.

Ronnie Corbett and Ronnie Barker during filming of The Two Ronnies (PA)

Comparable figures for ratings date back to 1981.

Some of the most-watched programmes to be broadcast on Christmas Day include The Two Ronnies (18.5 million in 1985), Just Good Friends (20.8 million in 1986) and various episodes of Only Fools And Horses, including one in 1996 that pulled in 21.3 million viewers.

The record for the biggest Christmas Day audience of all time was set in 1989, when 21.8 million viewers saw the premiere of the film Crocodile Dundee.