Queen’s Christmas message tops festive TV ratings

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The Queen’s Christmas message was the most-watched programme over Christmas.

Viewing figures show the broadcast was watched by 6.3 million viewers on BBC One, according to the broadcaster.

The Queen delivered a message of hope to the country, praising the “indomitable spirit” of those who have risen “magnificently” to the challenges of the pandemic.

In her annual televised speech, she also paid tribute to the “kindness of strangers” whose actions have inspired all.

She said what many people want “for Christmas is a simple hug or a squeeze of the hand” but “even on the darkest nights there is hope in the new dawn”.

The 94-year-old praised acts of kindness, saying the pandemic “brought us closer” despite causing hardship.

The Queen, like so many this year, has also spent the Christmas period apart from her family.

“Remarkably, a year that has necessarily kept people apart has, in many ways, brought us closer,” the monarch said in the broadcast, adding that the Royal Family has been “inspired” by people volunteering in their communities.

“In the United Kingdom and around the world, people have risen magnificently to the challenges of the year, and I am so proud and moved by this quiet, indomitable spirit.”

The Queen and Prince Philip, 99, have been living at Windsor Castle during the pandemic with a small household staff.

It is thought to be the first year the couple have not spent Christmas at their Sandringham home since the mid-1980s.

The Royal Family usually spends Christmas Day together, but have not visited each other this year because of coronavirus restrictions.

The Christmas broadcast was the Queen’s third televised address to the nation this year, which is unusual for the monarch.

In April, as the first wave of the pandemic saw people across the country told to stay at home, she vowed that the the UK “will succeed” in its fight against the virus.

In a rallying message, she lamented the “painful sense of separation from their loved ones” that social distancing was causing people – but said it was “the right thing to do”.

In May the Queen also gave a poignant address to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day and said people’s response to the virus had filled empty streets with “love”.

Call The Midwife’s Christmas Day special also proved to be a ratings hit this year after being watched by an average of 5.4 million viewers.

The Blankety Blank Christmas Special was watched by 5.3 million people, while Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Countdown was watched by 4.9 million viewers.

BBC One gameshow The Wheel, hosted by Michael McIntyre, was watched by an average of 4.7 million viewers.

ITV soaps Coronation Street and Emmerdale were watched by 4.5 million and 3.6 million respectively.

The Christmas special of comedy Mrs Brown’s Boys attracted 3.8 million viewers, while EastEnders was watched by 3.5 million.

The figures were supplied to the BBC by the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (Barb).

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