King’s message, Strictly and Doctor Who top Christmas Day ratings

BBC dominated viewing figures for another year, with just one ITV programme making the top 10

Ellie Muir
Tuesday 26 December 2023 16:40 GMT
King Charles urges public to protect environment in Christmas message

The Christmas Day 2023 TV ratings have been revealed, revealing the 10 most-watched shows.

BBC One won the annual battle, amassing an audience of more than 27 per cent against its competitor channels. This year marked the channel’s biggest audience since 2019, when the last Gavin & Stacey Christmas Special was broadcast.

The King’s Christmas message was the most viewed broadcast of the day, topping the list with 5.9m viewers.

However, this is a huge drop from Charles’s first-ever Christmas message as monarch last year, which received 10.72m viewers across multiple channels.

In second place, with 5.3m viewers, was BBC One’s Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special, which saw original Sugababes singer Keisha Buchanan, broadcaster Dan Snow, BBC Breakfast host Sally Nugent, EastEnders actor Jamie Borthwick, Waterloo Road actor Tillie Amartey and English rugby player Danny Cipriani duke it out for the festive Glitterball trophy.

Doctor Who was the third most-viewed programme, with 4.7m viewers watching Sex Education star Ncuti Gatwa’s first full adventure as the Doctor alongside his new companion Ruby (played by Millie Gibson). Read The Independent’s five-star review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special here.

In fourth place was BBC One’s final episode of Ghosts the much-loved sitcom about a gaggle of ghosts who haunt a rundown country mansion owned by a young couple – with Call The Midwife in fifth place with 4.4m viewers.

‘EastEnders’ actor Jamie Borthwick and Nancy Xu perform Quickstep during ‘Strictly’ Christmas Special
‘EastEnders’ actor Jamie Borthwick and Nancy Xu perform Quickstep during ‘Strictly’ Christmas Special (BBC/Guy Levy)

Following behind was the Christmas version of Michael McIntyre game show The Wheel, EastEnders – which revealed the answer to a long-standing mystery presented back in February – and the BBC’s big terrestrial film premiere of the day: Toy Story 4. ITV had just one show in the top 10, Lee Mack game show The 1% Club, which was the ninth most-watched title of the day.

However, it’s worth noting that, since viewing habits have shifted towards catch-up streaming in recent years, the real Christmas Day ratings won’t be fully consolidated until catch up figures are released in seven and 28 days time.

Millie Gibson and Ncuti Gatwa in the Doctor Who Christmas special
Millie Gibson and Ncuti Gatwa in the Doctor Who Christmas special (Lara Cornell/BBC Studios/Bad Wolf)

Find out the top 10 most-viewed TV broadcasts on Christmas Day below:

1. The King’s Christmas Broadcast, BBC One – 5.9m

2. Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special, BBC One – 5.3m

3. Doctor Who, BBC One – 4.7m

4. Ghosts, BBC One – 4.4m

5. Call the Midwife, BBC One – 4.4m

6. Michael McIntyre’s Christmas Wheel, BBC One – 4.2m

7. EastEnders, BBC One – 3.6m

8. Toy Story 4, BBC One – 3.5,9.

9. The 1% Club, ITV – 3.4m

10. Tabby McTat, BBC One – 3.3m

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