The Morecambe and Wise Christmas Show 1976 appealed to 4.51m (16.4%) at 8pm, 90-minute drama Eric and Ernie followed with an impressive 6.08m (23%) at 9pm, before a behind-the-scenes programme took 3.59m (17.1%) at 10.30pm.
BBC One's The Magicians, a new variety show hosted by Lenny Henry, entertained 5.57m (21.1%) at 7.30pm, putting it ahead of ITV1's Primeval, which returned with a disappointing 4.45m (16.8%).
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull on BBC One was seen by a hefty 7.58m (31.1%) from 5.30pm, easily outdoing Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban's 3.73m (15.7%) for ITV1.
Come Fly with Me pulled in 7.54m (26.9%) for BBC One at 9pm, a massive 2.7m down on the David Walliams and Matt Lucas sketch show's Christmas Day outing. Live at the Apollo amused 4.26m (15.3%) at 9.30pm.
Meanwhile, Take Me Out fetched 3.02m (10.8%) for ITV1 at 8.30pm, after which 1.91m (7.8%) watched the first part of movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and 1.56m (9.7%) returned after the news.
'Speed 3', the viewer's favourite episode, notched up 1.67m (6.5%) at 9.30pm and 261k (1.2%) on +1, then Small, Far Away: The World of Father Ted had 1.21m (5.3%), and Linehan and Matthews's most-loved episode 'Kicking Bishop Brennan Up The Arse' drew 878k (5.2%) at 11.15pm.
Channel 5's CSI-themed night mustered 675k (2.7%), 748k (2.9%) and 672k (2.4%) for a triple bill of CSI: Miami. At 9pm, 939k (3.5%) watched CSI: NY, after which a double bill of the original CSI attracted 770k (3.2%) and 644k (3.8%).
Overall, BBC One won primetime with 23.7%, followed by BBC Two's 17.1%. ITV1 averaged 12.3% in third, while Channel 4 took 6.7% (+1: 1.4%) and Channel 5 was last with 3%.
Elsewhere, Family Guy started 2011 top of the multichannel league, with 816k (6.8%) at 11.50pm. Benidorm grabbed 778k (3.1%) for ITV2 at 10pm.
BARB ratings data supplied by Attentional