A quarter of Brits don’t turn the TV off during Christmas dinner

Our festive viewing habits survey reveals that we're still a nation of telly addicts at Christmas - and the one show we can't live without on Christmas Day...

A view of a Christmas tree on Dublin's O'Connell Street, during the Christmas Season 2018.
On Tuesday, December 11, 2018, in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Christmas and TV are made for each other, we all know that – but some viewers are so committed to their festive programming that they don’t even switch the telly off to chew their turkey, it turns out. Indeed, more than a quarter of users polled on RadioTimes.com in a survey that received more than 15,000 votes say they keep the television on during Christmas dinner.


Confirming we’re still a nation of telly addicts, 20 per cent of respondents admit to watching more than seven hours of television on Christmas Day, while just 7 per cent say they watched no telly at all. And despite myriad technological distractions in 2018, the television is still the star of Christmas, with more than half of respondents saying it’s the one device they just couldn’t do without. In second place is the smartphone, which just under 20 per cent would put top of their tech list on Christmas Day.

But what are we watching? Well, the Queen is still a popular fixture for many on Christmas Day, with 44 per cent saying they watch Her Majesty’s address at 3pm, and 41 per cent saying they don’t. However, 15 per cent admit they’ve never seen the Queen’s speech at all.

As for the show we can’t do without – well, Christmas Day is all about Call the Midwife, it seems. 31 per cent of respondents saying they couldn’t bare to miss the adventures of the Nonatus nuns, with 18 per cent saying Mrs Brown’s Boys is their essential Christmas viewing, and 17 per cent plumping for a festive episode of Strictly.

However, nostalgia is obviously also a big part of Christmas with more than two thirds of respondents believing that Christmas television was better when they were a child than it is today. Despite a Christmas 2018 line-up that includes the ABC Murders, Call the Midwife, Les Miserables and Strictly to name but a few, 68 per cent of our respondents said they believed Christmas TV was better in the past.

But one thing’s for sure – whatever we’re watching, Christmas Day is still a time for families to enjoy television together. Despite the lure of new presents, multiple tech distractions and the internet, 84 per cent of us still say we watch TV as a family on the big day…

But for many, the on and off-screen festivities get a little too much – with almost half admitting at some point during the day that they take a little snooze in front of the box!

The survey results

Q. Is Christmas TV better or worse than when you were a child?

Better – 31.63%

Worse – 68.37%

Q. Do you watch TV as a family on Christmas Day?

Yes – 83.87%

No – 16.13%

Q. What’s the one device you couldn’t live without on Christmas Day?

TV – 54.86%

Smartphone – 18.77%

Set top recorder – 7.48%

Radio – 8.14%

Tablet – 7.35%

Laptop – 3.41%

Q. How many hours of TV do you watch on Christmas Day?

3-4 hours – 33.45%

1-2 hours – 22.49%

5-6 hours – 17.22%

More than 8 hours – 12.72%

7-8 hours – 7.19%

None – 6.92%

Q. What’s the ONE show you have to watch on Christmas Day?

Call the Midwife – 32.85%

Mrs Brown’s Boys – 18.17%

Strictly Come Dancing – 15.55%

EastEnders – 12.06%

The Great Christmas Bake Off – 10.32%

Coronation Street – 7.27%

Emmerdale – 3.78%

Q. At some point on Christmas Day, do you fall asleep in front of TV?

Yes – 42.37%

No – 57.63%

Q. Do you watch or listen to The Queen’s Speech on Christmas Day?

Yes – 43.37%

No – 41.85%

Never seen it – 14.79%

Q. Do you have the TV on during Christmas dinner?

Yes – 26.31%


No – 73.69%