Del Boy makes a plonker of ITV

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The Independent Online
The BBC rounded off its Christmas victory on Sunday with a final episode of Only Fools And Horses which attracted more viewers than any programme of 1996, including Euro 96.

The farewell to Del Boy and Rodney had 22.1m viewers at its peak and triggered the year's largest power surge. Overnight figures - which do not include those who videoed the comedy - were 21.5m, reaching 22.1m in the final half-hour. That was four million more than the England vs Germany match in Euro 96.

It won more viewers even than the Christmas Day episode of Only Fools And Horses, watched live by 18.7m people, or the December 27 episode, watched by 18.45m. Together they were the top three programmes of the Christmas period, the BBC said.

After the Trotters said farewell on Sunday, viewers caused a 1,600-megawatt power surge as they made tea and coffee - enough to power Birmingham for 15 minutes, a National Grid spokesman said.

He added: "It was the biggest power surge of the year. The usual surge following an edition of a top programme like EastEnders is something between 800 and 1,000 megawatts. It is unusual for a non-sporting programme to get such a reaction - but Del Boy and Rodney actually beat the Euro 96 matches."

The biggest recorded power surge was 2,800 megawatts, following England's World Cup semi-final penalty shoot-out against Germany in 1990.

Yesterday the BBC hailed the success of the comedy which has seen seven series and 12 Christmas specials since it started in 1981. "We're delighted this proved a triple treat for our viewers," a spokeswoman said.

ITV fought back with 11.9m viewers for its James Bond film, The Living Daylights, but with eight of the top 10 programmes on Christmas Day alone, the BBC emerged the victor in the holiday ratings battle.