Comedies win war of the TV ratings

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The Independent Online
THE BBC won the Christmas week battle for television viewers, with nine out of the top ten programmes, writes Maggie Brown.

BBC 1 attracted 42.2 per cent of viewers, compared with 34.3 per cent for ITV, a reversal of the usual position. Will Wyatt, managing director of BBC Television, said the ratings 'represent a huge vote of confidence in British talent'.

The biggest audience - 20 million - tuned in to the comedy special One Foot In The Algarve on Christmas Sunday. Only Fools And Horses, which saw Del Boy and Rodney with marital problems overshadowing their Yuletide celebrations, attracted 19.6 million, and was the most popular Christmas Day programme.

A close second on Christmas Day with nearly 19.4 million viewers - and the third most popular show overall - was Birds Of A Feather, in a Chingford Meets Hollywood voyage of discovery. Fourth place - with 18.5 million viewers - was taken by BBC 1's Ghost, the top Christmas Day film.

Others in the top ten included EastEnders, Keeping Up Appearances, Casualty, the BBC's News And Weather on 26 December and EastEnders again.

The only ITV programme among the favourites was Coronation Street at No 5, watched by 17.7 million. ITV says Christmas is not a priority for it, but says it fought back over new year, taking an estimated 50 per cent audience share with Monday's James Bond film Licence to Kill.

ITV is offering 50 of its top programmes for corporate sponsorship. They include Cracker, Blind Date, Gladiators, You've Been Framed, Peak Practice and Heart Beat.

Media, page 23

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