'The Perfect Christmas' amused 4.28m (15.7%) at 8.30pm - representing an all-time high for the show - sparking speculation that it may be promoted to BBC One for the third series.
Ruth Jones's Christmas Cracker, the Gavin and Stacey star's chatshow hosting debut, followed with 2.45m (9.1%), and a Have I Got News For You catchup fetched 1.65m (6.4%) at 10pm.
Elsewhere on BBC Two, Yellow Stone nabbed 2m (7.6%) in the 7pm hour, and University Challenge interested 3.27m (11.8%) at 8pm.
Over on ITV1, Countrywise Kitchen mustered 3.23m (11.7%), after which David Jason drama Come Rain Come Shine took 5.78m (22%) between 8.30pm and 10.30pm.
BBC One's The Nativity debuted to an impressive 5.21m (20.3%) at 7pm, before a special BBC News bulletin, Frozen Britain, informed 4.77m (17.5%). Panorama intrigued 2.84m (10.4%) at 8.30pm, and Jimmy McGovern's Accused concluded with 3.19m (12%).
Channel 4's festive food lineup started with a River Cottage special edition at 8pm, which picked up 1.49m (5.4%), followed by Jamie's Best Ever Christmas which had 2.68m (10%), plus a further 256k (1.2%) on timeshift. Alan Carr: Chatty Man entertained 1.93m (9%) at 10pm, and 325k (2.8%) on +1.
The Gadget Show scored 1.04m (3.8%) for Channel 5, then 1.22m (4.6%) chose Extreme Fishing with Robson Green in the 9pm hour, and afterwards late-night film The Foreigner managed 763k (4.5%).
Overall, ITV1 triumphed in primetime with 24.4% to BBC One's 19.1%. BBC Two was quite a way off in third with 8.9%, followed by Channel 4 with 6.9% (+1: 0.8%), and Channel 5 with 3.4%.
BARB ratings data supplied by Attentional