The much-anticipated return of Gavin and Stacey achieved the best Christmas Day TV ratings for more than a decade, early “overnight” figures show.
The Christmas special was watched by a “well lush” average of 11.6 million viewers on BBC One.
When it went on air at 20:30 GMT, half (49.2%) of all TV viewers tuned in.
The episode, written by and starring James Corden and Ruth Jones, revisited Gavin, Stacey, Smithy and Nessa nearly 10 years after they left our screens.
The next most-watched programme was the Queen’s Christmas Broadcast, which was screened on BBC One, ITV and Sky and seen by 7.85 million people.
In recent years, The Queen’s annual broadcast has become the most-watched TV show, based on the overnight figures which do not include viewers who watch Christmas specials on catch-up services during the rest of the festive period.
Strictly Come Dancing, EastEnders and Michael McIntyre’s Big Show – all on BBC One – rounded out this year’s top five shows.
Charlotte Moore, Director of BBC content, said: “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.”
Gavin and Stacey, written by Corden, who plays Smithy, and Jones, who has reprised the iconic role of Nessa, first aired in 2007.
The initial series saw the budding romance between Essex man Gavin Shipman, played by Mathew Horne, and Welsh woman Stacey West, portrayed by Joanna Page, flourish.
There were two subsequent series and a 2008 Christmas special.
It had been a decade since audiences left Gavin, Stacey, Smithy and Nessa sat on the seafront on Barry Island but the Christmas special proved these four – and their famous expressions – are still a big hit.
In the Christmas special, viewers only had to wait a few minutes to hear Nessa ask her infamous question “What’s occurring?”.
And of course, it wouldn’t be a Gavin and Stacey special without a reference to that infamous fishing trip.
The success of Gavin and Stacey made Corden and Jones household names – even though they were not the Gavin and Stacey named in the title.
Since the original series Corden’s career has skyrocketed in the US, with his hugely successful gig as host of The Late, Late Show.
Jones told the BBC that trying to find the time to film was challenging, with Corden recording episodes of his US show back-to back to give him to time to work with Jones on the British project together in LA earlier this year.
Top 10 most-watched programmes on Christmas Day 2019
1. Gavin and Stacey (BBC One) – 11.6m
2. The Queen’s Christmas Broadcast (BBC One, ITV, Sky) – 7.85m
3. Strictly Come Dancing (BBC One) – 5.49m
4. EastEnders (BBC One) – 5.47m
5. Michael McIntyre (BBC One) – 5.25m
6. Call The Midwife (BBC One) – 5.23m
7. Mrs Brown’s Boys (BBC One) – 4.63m
8. Coronation Street (ITV) – 4.48m
9. Emmerdale (ITV) – 4.11m
10. Finding Dory (BBC One) 3.99m