Monday, December 26, 2011

The Twenty Two Days of Christmas: From This Day, Every Day Will Be Boxing Day

It's brilliant what you can find on the Internet, is it not dear blog reader?
My hat's off to you, sir or madam, whoever you are.

BBC1 won the annual Christmas Day overnight ratings battle although, this year, it was somewhat closer than most of the last decade. Despite ITV's strongest Christmas Day line-up for many years - of late it's been a day that they've somewhat given away in favour of strong Christmas Eves and Boxing Days - it was still the BBC's traditional big-hitters which won the overnights. EastEnders was the most watched show of the day with an average audience of 9.92m and a peak of over 10.4m. Placed against ITV's massively popular costume drama Downtown Abbey, EastEnders' traditional Christmas Day hour long misery-fest wallow saw Ben revealed as Phil's stalker and wicked evil naughty Yusef's sinister and disgraceful child-snatching plans finally come crashing down around his ears, only to end of a cliffhanger of quite explosive proportions.
Its audience share suggests that around thirty million people (half the UK population) were watching TV in the 9pm to 10pm hour, a considerable jump on the same slot last Christmas Day when the total audience was around twenty six million. What the other thirty two million people were doing, I'll leave up to your own imaginations, dear blog reader, although it's a fair bet than alcohol was involved for many. Downton, which many media commentators had confidently predicted would be the most watched programme of the day, had an audience of 8.13m (plus a further four hundred thousand watching of ITV+1 an hour later) and came fourth in the ratings Top Ten. It was beaten by both Coronation Street (nine million, plus three hundred thousand on ITV+1) and Doctor Who (8.92m for The Doctor, The Lion And The Wardrobe, and a peak of 9.3m in the final fifteen minutes). Doctor Who's audience share was just over thirty four per cent, the highest in primetime of the night. The rest of the Christmas Day Top Ten was made up by Strictly Come Dancing (a slightly disappointment figure of 7.52m), Absolutely Fabulous (a highly impressive 7.43m), Emmerdale (6.24m, plus an additional five hundred thousand on +1), The Gruffalo's Child (6.47m), Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow (6.45m), All Star Family Fortunes (6.13m, plus two hundred thousand timeshifts on +1).
The Queen's Speech reached a total audience of 8.6m viewers this year, with 6.29m watching the 3pm broadcast on BBC1, and a further 2.15m tuning in on ITV. The Top of the Pops Christmas special on BBC1 was seen by 3.93m at 2pm. Overall, ITV recorded its best Christmas peak time viewing share for seven years with 29.7 per cent, and it managed four programmes in the Top Ten instead of its usual two. But it still had a settle, as so often in the past, for second place to the Beeb (31.1 per cent). Referring to EastEnders, BBC1 controller Danny Cohen said: 'BBC1 had the most popular show and the most viewers overall on Christmas Day. From Doctor Who to Gruffalo's Child, EastEnders to Strictly, Michael McIntyre and Ab Fab, we wanted to provide something for everyone.' George Entwistle, also from the BBC, added: 'The breadth and quality of the BBC's output has been really impressive across all genres and today's figures are testament to that.' BBC entertainment correspondent Lizo Mzimba said: 'While the BBC has again won the overnight ratings battle, this is ITV's strongest showing for years. In 2010, only two of its programmes made it into the Christmas Day top ten. The year before only one.' All the figures are based on overnight figures produced by BARB, which do not take into account viewers who will watch shows at a later date on the BBC iPlayer or the ITV Player, or other catch-up services. The final, consolidated ratings for the Christmas period will be available in about ten days time.

For what it's worth, dear blog reader, once he'd sat through EastEnders yer actual Keith Telly Topping needed a bit of cheering up which is why BBC4's The Johnny Cash Christmas Show followed by the two 1976 Christmas Top of the Pops special were so welcome.
BBC1 had the strongest overnight audience figures in primetime on Christmas Eve, too. Saturday evening's episode of EastEnders - in which Jane told Yusef that she had seen Zainab and Masood kissing - attracted 7.84m to the channel between 20.45 and 21.20. The BBC3 repeat of the episode at 10.50pm was seen by a further six hundred and eighty seven thousand. EastEnders was the only soap to broadcast an episode on Christmas Eve. Elsewhere on BBC1, the charming family film The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe was seen by an average of 4.7m viewers - peaking at 5.63m in the last quarter of an hour - while 6.38m watched the (really rather good) fourth series finale of Merlin, The Sword in the Stone, Part 2. After EastEnders 7.02m then saw the Outnumbered Christmas special between 21.20 and 22.00, whilst the Sue Johnston-fronted comedy Lapland averaged 5.9m between 22.00 and 23.15. The second instalment of ITV's risible charity broadcast Text Santa attracted just four million punters between 7.30pm and 10pm, including two hundred and fifty thousand on ITV HD. A further one hundred and thirty thousand wretched, crushed victims of society watched this puke-enducing exercise in desperately trying to convince viewers that Christine Bleakley isn't box office poison on ITV+1. Seemingly, it failed. A celebrity special of The Cube had an audience of 4.99m at 6.30pm, (two hundred and fifty thousand on ITV+1). BBC2 focused on classic comedians in primetime. The compilation show Morecambe and Wise: A Perfect Christmas entertained 2.82m, followed by the profile The Many Faces of Les Dawson in the 9pm hour which was watched by 2.84m. Channel Four attracted 1.39m with the terrestrial premiere of the musical comedy Hairspray. Home for the Holidays concluded with a miserable six hundred and seventy thousand punters. Channel Five attracted an average of nine hundred and eighty six thousand with a repeat of three-hour archive show Greatest Christmas TV Moments, peaking at 1.2m between 22.00 and 22.15. The Gadget Show's Christmas Eve special drew in eight hundred and sixty two thousand in the 8pm hour.

Charlie Brooks has won this year's Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special. The EastEnders actress performed a jive with Strictly regular Vincent Simone and proved most popular with the BBC1 show's studio audience when their totals were combined with the marks given out by the judges. Head judge Len Goodman described Brooks's 'terrific' dance as 'sharp and tasty, like a pickled walnut with a bit of cheese for supper on Christmas night,' while Alesha Dixon praised her 'great energy, nice kicks and flicks,' saying that the routine was 'full of personality and pure, pure fun.' Bruno Tonioli said: 'I tell you, that jive got everybody up from their sofa to celebrate! Happy Christmas,' while Craig Revel Horwood - who opened the show dressed as The Grinch - said that the dance was 'fab-u-lous!' Brooks scored thirty seven out of forty for her dance and joins previous Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special winners such as John Barrowman, Ali Bastian and Darren Gough.

Pope Benedict XVI has attacked the commercialisation of Christmas, as he held the traditional Christmas Eve Mass at St Peter's Basilica in Rome. In his homily, His Holiness urged worshippers to 'see through the superficial glitter of this season and to discover behind it the child in the stable in Bethlehem.' Which has a fair amount of truth in it but, coming from the leader of a church as obsessed with ritual and bling as the Catholics is, frankly, a bit hard to take seriously. Try selling off some of your gold reserves to help the poor, matey, then one might have a bit more interest in what you've got to say. If you could stop a few of your priests sodomising choirboys as well, that'd also be helpful.

And, on that bombshell, here's the penultimate Keith Telly Topping's Twenty Two day of Christmas. Mister Elvis Costello and his several Attractions, with the TKO Horns and Afrodiziak, live on The Tube. In the words of Andy Kershaw, 'four eyes, one vision'. Try not to get too bad an upset stomach today, dear blog reader, as you tuck into the Quality Street with impunity.