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Sunday, 2 January, 2000, 18:57 GMT
Millennium TV smashes New Year records

2000 Today was more popular for many than a night out

Millions of people shunned the lure of a night out to see in the new millennium and opted to watch the celebrations on television, according to viewing figures.

The BBC recorded more than double its normal viewing figures for New Year's Eve as viewers toasted the year 2000 from their armchairs.

A spokeswoman said the corporation's recorded figures topped 12 million at midnight - making it more popular than EastEnders.

She said a normal New Year's Eve would see a maximum of six million tuning in as people tended to go out to parties.

But as Big Ben chimed in the new century there were 12.8 million homes watching the BBC's special millennium extravaganza 2000 Today.

'Watched for longer'

The programme, hosted by a team of top names led by Gaby Roslin and Michael Parkinson, recorded average figures of eight million between 2000 GMT and 0100 GMT.

The spokeswoman said: "Normally the figures would be around six million at midnight, which is the peak, and people would switch off shortly after midnight - this year they stayed and watched for longer."

She said early viewing figures indicated that rivals ITV had attracted an average of 4.1 million over millennium eve.

But she refused to confirm speculation that presenters of the 27-hour show had each been paid 25,000 for their night's work.

The BBC's 12m coverage brought together broadcasters and some of the best-known faces on British TV to capture the dawn of the New Year across the world.

Veteran BBC journalist John Simpson reported on the first midnight from the Pacific island of Kiribati, while there was also live coverage as midnight chimed in a host of locations including New York, Sydney and, of course, London.

Gaby Roslin and Michael Parkinson were joined by other well-known names including Barbara Windsor, Michael Palin, Rolf Harris and Peter Snow.

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See also:
02 Dec 99 |  Entertainment
BBC's all-star millennium bash
09 Nov 99 |  Entertainment
Sir Trevor's ITV millennium

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