The first episode of the third series, which aired at 9pm, pulled in a decent 5.63m (22.3%), but failed to beat the 2008 Christmas special, which logged 6.76m (31.3%) on Christmas Eve last year.
Also on BBC One, the new series of QI opened to 4.48m (18.3%) in its 9.30pm slot, while the 8.30pm Traffic Cops was seen by 3.49m (14.6%).
Over on BBC Two, The Restaurant and Natural World put in 1.51m (6.3%) and 1.72m (6.9%) at 8pm and 9pm respectively.
River Cottage managed 2.55m (10.6%) for Channel 4 at 8pm, then the audience dropped to 1.58m (6.4%) during the 9pm screening of Jess: Britain's Youngest Sleepwalker. Alan Carr: Chatty Man followed at 10pm, drawing 1.21m (6.6%).
Five's The Hunt For Red October: The True Story put in 1.12m (4.7%) at 8pm, then The Foreigner averaged 882k (4%) between 9pm and 11pm.
ITV1's I'm A Celebrity... averaged 7.85m (32%) between 8.30pm and 10pm.
Overall, ITV1 came top during primetime with an average share of 27.2% to BBC One's 22.3%. Channel 4 was third with 7% (+1: 0.9%), followed by BBC Two with 5.27% and Five's 3.7%.
Over on the multichannel stations, the third episode of E4's Misfits drew 406k (2.5%) during the 10pm hour, beaten by ITV2's I'm A Celebrity... spinoff, which put in 619k (3.7%).
BARB ratings data supplied by Attentional