THERE probably isn’t much that the Queen and potty-mouthed Irish matriarch Mrs Brown have in common.

But what they both share this year is success in pulling in the highest ratings for Christmas Day telly.

The Queen’s Christmas Day message drew a combined audience of 7.6 million, across BBC1, ITV and Sky, making it the most popular programme. But Mrs Brown’s Boys was the most-watched single channel show, with 6.8 million viewers on BBC1, according to overnight figures.

It beat the Strictly Come Dancing special, last year’s winner. This year, 6.5 million tuned in for Strictly’s festive show, which saw Bradford’s Kimberley Walsh top the leader board with her reindeer-themed jive.

While I’d rather boil my head than watch Mrs Brown’s Boys (it’s been called a Seventies-style sitcom but as far as I recall, most sitcoms in the Seventies were actually funny), I find it heartening that in this age of catch-up and binge watching, the collective TV experience isn’t quite a thing of the past.

When I was growing up, with just three channels, (the only place we could get a signal for Channel 4, in its first year, was in the kitchen, on the black and white portable telly), everyone watched the same thing on Christmas Day.

You spent the post-dinner lull watching whichever film was on that year - prior to the exciting “first time on terrestrial television” film screenings it was either The Wizard of Oz or Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - then in the evening we’d gather on the sofa for the much-anticipated Christmas special. Never mind that this was basically an extended episode of a popular sitcom, usually set abroad or on a road trip - it was a treat, and everyone else was watching it at the same time. Only Fools and Horses was the biggie - the most-watched show on nine Christmases between 1990 and 2003. Christmas Day has never been the same without it.

There was something comforting about those festive TV staples. Now they’re interwound with happy memories of sitting together as a family, being shouted into the living-room because “It’s starting!” and you knew that if you didn’t watch it there and then, you’d miss out.

Even with the coming of video recorders and multi-channel TV, shows like The Vicar of Dibley and The Royle Family continued to pull in huge Christmas ratings.

Of course the fragmented nature of today’s TV-viewing means that never again will we see the likes of the Morecambe and Wise Christmas Show pulling in over 25 million viewers. Now TV is watched on laptops and mobiles; streamed and downloaded wherever you are, whenever you want. Nobody circles their viewing choices in the bumper Radio Times anymore. And that cry of “It’s starting!” that had us racing downstairs while the opening credits rolled is a distant echo from long ago.

And that’s where it belongs. For, while it’s the time of year for a little melancholy and misty-eyed reflection, those who recall the days of three channels and sitting through the tedious Ronnie Corbett monologue on the Christmas Two Ronnies now relish the freedom of TV on-demand.

What were my Christmas TV highlights this year? I don’t know yet, it’s all on catch-up. The downside is that festive TV quickly loses its seasonal appeal. I once didn’t get round to watching the Downton Abbey Christmas special until June, by which time I’d lost interest. Catching up with a collective viewing experience six months later can seem a soulless, lonely way to watch telly.

* JUST three per cent of people in the UK know the words to Auld Lang Syne, according to a survey.

Research by Sainsbury’s shows that most folk can belt out the chorus and the first few lines at best, while 42per cent of millennials don’t know a single word. And more than half are unaware that Robert Burns wrote the words - with 34per cent believing it was Taylor Swift. Now Sainsbury’s has put out an online songsheet in an attempt to revive the tradition, amid fears that its future is at risk.

Calm down, people. I’ve been blagging my way through Auld Lang Syne for decades without knowing the words, and I know I’m not alone. There are many more new years left in the Old Land Sign. How does it go again..?

* THERE is nowhere quite like Sunbridgewells. It is something Bradford should be very proud of.

More than 300,000 visitors, many from across the UK, have flocked to the labyrinth of bars and shops beneath the city centre since it opened in December, 2016. Now Graham Hall, the man behind this fabulous development, wants more Bradford people to support it.

What incredible vision and single-minded determination it took to make this a reality. It's a wonderful place. If you've yet to visit, get yourself along. You're missing out on a gem.