Del Boy dominates Christmas ratings

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The Independent Online

The ability of two chancers from Peckham to captivate the nation was displayed again yesterday when the BBC1 comedy Only Fools and Horses dominated the Christmas Day television ratings.

The antics of Del Boy and Rodney in the casinos of Monte Carlo, their new "manor" after achieving a life goal of becoming millionaires, attracted 20.3 million viewers as the BBC dominated the festive schedules. Unofficial viewing figures showed the BBC screened seven of the 10 most watched programmes on 25 December with a peak-time audience share of 50.5 per cent compared to 30.2 per cent for ITV.

The viewing figures will have disappointed Buckingham Palace, with the number of people prepared to tear themselves away from the turkey to watch the Queen's Speech sinking to a new low. A total of 8.7 million people tuned in to hear the monarch use her 50th Christmas broadcast to deliver a sombre message reflecting on 11 September.

The number of viewers was 1.4 million fewer than last year and continues a long decline for the broadcasting institution which drew 21 million viewers at its peak in 1993.

Executives at the BBC were jubilant that the corporation's traditional domination of the Christmas ratings was restored after last year when ITV took the top place for only the second time in 15 years with Coronation Street.

Tuesday's episode of Only Fools and Horses, which showed the Trotter brothers losing their £6.2m fortune, was the first of three special editions since the original series finished five years ago.