Classic BBC comedy Only Fools and Horses is still one of the most popular TV shows on Christmas Day – thanks to Netflix and Gold.
RadioTimes.com can reveal that Only Fools and Horses was among the most-watched film and TV shows on Netflix UK on Christmas Day 2016, a surprise appearance which the streaming service says confirms the nostalgic tastes of viewers even in the on demand world.
The last Christmas special, Sleepless in Peckham, premiered on Christmas Day 2003, and episodes of the comedy starring Nicholas Lyndhurst and David Jason have been screened many times since.
Alongside Only Fools and Horses, other top rated films and shows on Netflix were the movie Home Alone, original Netflix series The Crown, Peppa Pig, Die Hard, The OA, Troll Hunters and Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
Netflix was unable to confirm which Only Fools and Horses episodes were watched most, or what the precise viewing figures were for any of the named programmes.
Series three and four of Only Fools and Horses is available to UK Netflix subscribers, as well as all 18 special Christmas-themed episodes including “Rodney Come Home” (1990) “The Jolly Boys’ Outing” (1989) and the trilogy of 1996 specials ending with “Time on Our Hands”, originally meant to be the final Fools and Horses episode.
Sources at the streaming giant suggest that, not surprisingly, the Christmas specials were among the most popular on Christmas Day.
“These figures show the way on demand content works,” a Netflix source explained. “People dip in and out and it caters for all tastes. But the popularity of Only Fools and Horses also shows that there is a strong taste for nostalgia on Christmas Day.
“If mum burns the turkey it doesn’t matter what time people watch – that is what on demand is about. TV tastes are incredibly varied.”
Only Fools and Horses also did well on Gold, where repeat episodes were shown across Christmas Day, pulling in audiences of 112,000 for the first helping of the programme which started at 7am and getting in audiences of 271,000 (9am), 346,000 (1pm), 266,000 (4pm), 361,000 (5pm) and 316,000 for the 6pm showing.
Overall, viewing over the Christmas Day period was dominated by the BBC, with Sherlock the most-watched TV programme over the festive season for the second year running.
The drama, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman drew 11.3 million viewers to the New Year’s Day episode according to consolidated figures.
The 90-minute episode, The Six Thatchers, had an audience share of 37.8%.
Last year, Sherlock: The Abominable Bride topped the festive ratings, with 11.6 million viewers.
The second most popular programme over the recent Christmas period was the New Year’s Eve fireworks on BBC1 which had a consolidated audience of 10.8m (a 54.3% share of the audience) followed by the Christmas Day edition of Call the Midwife with 9.2m viewers (32.4%).
Mrs Brown’s Boys was fourth with 8.9m (a 37% share), the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special had 8.9 m (35.5%) and The Great Christmas Bake Off had 8.2m (a 38.4% share).
The most popular non-BBC programme was the 21 December edition of Coronation Street which had 8.1m viewers and a 30.7% share on ITV, putting it in seventh place. This was followed in eighth place by the Christmas Day edition of Doctor Who, which had a total audience of 7.8m.
Another strong performer was We’re Going on a Bear Hunt on Channel 4 which was the 14th most popular programme over the Christmas period. The half hour animation based on Michael Rosen’s children’s story had a combined audience of 6.7m.
Ben has worked as a professional journalist specialising in TV and the arts for nearly twenty years. After a two year stint on local newspapers in the mid 1990s, he spent more than 5 years as the broadcast reporter at the Stage newspaper. Following that he enjoyed staff reporting positions at the Sunday Mirror and the Sunday Times breaking stories and writing features before settling as a full time freelance writing for an array of newspapers and magazines - but mainly for the Guardian, Evening Standard, Broadcast, Independent and the New Statesman where he wrote a column.