Some 8.2m - a 32.3% share of the available audience - tuned in to watch BBC One's 8.30pm Boxing Day episode of the soap, which focused on the Brannings' shock over Derek's fatal heart attack. BBC Three's late-night repeat appealed to 677,000 (4.5%) at 10.30pm.
Coronation Street's 7.30pm instalment, which saw Kylie regret her one-night stand with Nick, pulled in 7.84m (32.8%) as well as 271k on ITV1 +1.
While EastEnders continued its traditional festive dominance, the BBC serial is 1.7m short of last year's rating while Corrie has managed to match its 2011 Boxing Day performance.
Emmerdale's 7pm showing, which culminated with murderer Cameron's warning to ex Debbie, grabbed 6.34m (28.9%) and 349k on timeshift.
Emmerdale's split Christmas Day episode was caught by 551k (3.5%) from 4pm and 886k (5.1%) at 4.35pm (+1: 132k).
Finally, an explosive McQueen family Christmas in Hollyoaks drew 639k (3.1%) at 6.15pm, after which E4's first look fetched 362k (1.6%) from 6.45pm (+1: 144k).
BARB ratings data supplied by Attentional Get the Inside Soap magazine on your iPhone or iPad