Boring Downton Abbey not the only Christmas flop for ITV

Dec 31, 2012

Downton can't save ITV from a dismal Christmas dominated by Miranda and the BBC


ITV has woken up with a bad Christmas hangover after viewers abandoned normally top-rating programmes over the festive season, including the hit period drama Downton Abbey.

Only three shows broadcast by ITV on Christmas Day made it into the list of the UK's ten most watched programmes, giving the commercial broadcaster a measly eight per cent share of the prime time audience. BBC1 scored a 20.5 per cent share of the prime time audience on the same day.

ITV's flagship drama Downton Abbey recorded its lowest ever audience on Christmas Day and a news bulletin was the station's highest ranked offering with 2.5 million viewers. As the Daily Mail reported at the time, critics and viewers variously described the Downton Christmas special as "unbelievably boring" and "the worst programme ever".

Now the same paper reports that ITV's festive failures – those that struggled to reach the magic two million viewer mark - included both established shows and new offerings.

Dale's Great Getaway, a new game show hosted by Dale Winton in which contestants compete for a holiday, attracted less than 1.5 million viewers. There was even less enthusiasm for a show about the 30th anniversary of CITV – the broadcaster's children's service – which was bayoneted by an episode of Dad's Army on BBC2.

The figures "confirm the BBC's traditional dominance over the festive period", says the Mail.

BBC1 led the way on Christmas Eve with shows including Merlin, EastEnders and a repeat of The Vicar of Dibley trouncing ITV's scheduled shows. The ratings story was repeated on Christmas Day with the corporation's Doctor Who beating Emmerdale and BBC1's Strictly Come Dancing stepping all over Paul O'Grady show from Battersea Dogs' Home.

On Boxing Day, a Christmas special edition of the sitcom Miranda gave the BBC a huge ratings boost, peaking at 10 million viewers. Doors Open, an ITV drama starring Stephen Fry, managed a peak of 7 million viewers in the same time slot.

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