The BBC has emerged triumphant in the fight to win Christmas Day eyeballs after a special episode of Gavin and Stacey pulled in 11.6m viewers.
The bumper viewing figures mean the hour-long sitcom special was the most-watched show on Christmas Day and boasts the best festive ratings in more than a decade.
Gavin and Stacey, which documents the lives of the eponymous couple and their family and friends living between Billericay in Essex and Barry in Wales, won a 49.2 per cent share of the TV audience last night.
It marks the biggest success since 14.3m people tuned in to watch Wallace and Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death in 2008.
The BBC One romp topped off a bumper day of festive programming for the corporation, which secured eight out of the top 10 most popular shows.
The Queen’s Christmas speech came in at second place with 6.4m viewers, while 5.5m people settled down to watch the Strictly Come Dancing special and Eastenders.
Gavin and Stacey, which is co-written by James Corden and Ruth Jones, has gained a cult following since it first aired in 2007.
Fans took to social media last night to heap praise on the new episode, though some expressed their frustration over the cliffhanger ending.
The ratings success will come as a major boost to the BBC, which is facing fierce competition from deep-pocketed streaming rivals such as Netflix and Amazon.
The broadcaster is also under pressure from the government, which has threatened to decriminalise non-payment of the licence fee – a move that could cost the organisation £200m per year.
Charlotte Moore, director of BBC Content, said: “Christmas Day on BBC One brought the nation together and entertained them in their millions with the much anticipated return of Gavin and Stacey taking the top spot in 2019, and making it the biggest in a decade.
“We delivered something for everyone with the seven most popular programmes that cap off an incredible year for BBC One celebrating British talent and creativity.”
Main image credit: BBC