Downton Abbey, which was partly filmed in Alnwick, won the battle of the Christmas Day ratings as 6.9million tuned in to wish a fond farewell to the Crawleys on ITV and catch-up services.
It beat last year's Christmas Day audience for Downton Abbey, which was also filmed in Alnwick, by more than a million,
In its swansong episode yesterday, viewers watched as Lady Edith finally got her happy ending with Bertie Pelham, Lady Mary discovered she was pregnant and Anna and Mr Bates welcomed their first child - with no tragic deaths to break the reverie.
With peak figures of 7.4million, the two-hour long episode of Julian Fellowes' drama just pipped the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special, won by Harry Judd, which was the BBC's most-watched show of the day with a peak of seven million viewers and an average of 6.5million.
The real ratings winner was the Queen, whose 3pm broadcast had the biggest overall figures for the day, drawing 6.1million on the BBC and 1.3million on ITV and +1.
ITV said: "This is the first time a Downton Christmas special has topped the ratings in the UK on Christmas Day."
It was a drop from the 8.8million who tuned in for the penultimate episode of the series in November and failed to replicate the figures from the first-ever Downton Christmas episode in 2011 when it pulled in a consolidated audience of 12.1million.
The BBC claimed eight of the 10 most-watched Christmas shows, with Mrs Brown's Boys and Stick Man drawing in an average of 6.4million, and Doctor Who and Call the Midwife pulling in an audience of 5.8million each.
Downton went head-to-head with an hour-long special of EastEnders in the 8.45pm slot but even a shock car crash involving the Mitchell and Beale families only captured the attention of 5.7million fans.
Coronation Street triumphed as the most-watched soap on Christmas Day as it pulled in an average of 5.9million viewers, including on +1 services, while Emmerdale got 4.4million.
BBC One controller Charlotte Moore said: "BBC One brought the nation together with a distinctive range of programmes on Christmas Day and eight of the top 10 most popular shows.
"There are many more television treats for viewers to enjoy on BBC One over the rest of the festive season including Billionaire Boy, The Great Barrier Reef, Still Open All Hours, David Beckham special, And Then There Were None, Dickensian and Sherlock."