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Wednesday, 26 December, 2001, 16:17 GMT
Del Boy triumphs in Christmas ratings
A scene taken from the moment Del Boy and Rodney finally hit the big time in the Christmas Day special of Only Fools and Horses
It was the first new episode of the show since 1996
The BBC's Christmas episode of classic comedy Only Fools and Horses has topped the festive TV ratings.

Christmas TV Top Ten
Only Fools and Horses (BBC1, 20.3m)
EastEnders, 2030(BBC1, 14.5m)
Coronation Street (ITV1, 12m)
EastEnders, 1755 (BBC1, 10.5m)
Who wants to be a Millionaire? (ITV1, 9.6m)
Before They Were Famous (BBC1, 9.3m)
Emmerdale (ITV1, 8.6m)
The Lost World (BBC1, 8.3m)
News, 2020 (BBC1, 8m)
Toy Story (BBC1, 7.4m)
Alistair McGowan's Big Impression (BBC1, 7.1m)
Unofficial overnight estimates said 20.3 million people tuned in to see the return of Del Boy and Rodney - compared with the 12 million attracted by ITV1's top Christmas Day programme, Coronation Street.

BBC1's Christmas Day schedule, which included a double helping of EastEnders and the Toy Story movie, also came out ahead of ITV1 overall.

It was the first outing for Only Fools and Horses since Christmas 1996, when the pair became millionaires after happening upon an antique watch.

The last episode in that trilogy attracted a total of 24.35 million viewers.

The 2001 show - which caught up with the pair having lost all their money in a stock market crash - pulled in 73% of all television viewers at the time it was screened - head to head with a Christmas special of ITV1's Stars in Their Eyes.

For more than 20 million viewers the Trotters are the undisputed kings of Christmas TV

Lorraine Heggesy
Controller of BBC1
Lorraine Heggessey, controller of BBC1, said: "John Sullivan's script was full of the comic panache we've come to expect from Only Fools and Horses.

"For more than 20 million viewers the Trotters are the undisputed kings of Christmas TV."

The BBC is the traditional winner of the seasonal ratings war.

It holds the record for the biggest-ever Christmas TV audience with the Angie and Den bust-up episode of EastEnders, which was watched by 30.15 million people in total in 1986.

Rodney Trotter appeared dressed as Gladiator star Russell Crowe in the special show
At one point, Rodney appeared dressed as Gladiator star Russell Crowe
This year it achieved a 50% share of peak-time Christmas Day viewing, from 1800 GMT to 2230 GMT, against ITV1's 30%.

But it lost out to ITV1 during BBC shows The Lost World and Alistair McGowan's Big Impression.

Apart from Coronation Street, ITV1's biggest audience pullers were Who Wants to be a Millionaire? (9.6 million) and Emmerdale (8.6m).

The Queen's Speech at 1500 GMT was watched by a total of 8.7 million people - 5.5 million on BBC1 and 3.2 million on ITV1.

Nine years ago, the total for both channels was more than double that - 17.9 million.

See also:

20 Dec 01 | TV and Radio
Christmas TV: Crackers and turkeys
07 Dec 01 | TV and Radio
Del tops Christmas TV poll
29 Nov 01 | TV and Radio
Del Boy is Christmas ratings favourite
08 Aug 01 | TV and Radio
Only Fools barman Mike dies
29 Jun 99 | Entertainment
TV's 'Uncle Albert' laid to rest
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