Mrs Brown’s Boys has suffered its lowest ratings in almost a decade.
The sitcom pulled in just 3.8million viewers for its festive special on BBC One last night.
It flopped despite being given the 10pm slot, which is one of the most sought-after times on Christmas Day.
The last time the show pulled in less than four million viewers was during its first series in 2011.
It was beaten by a string of other shows in the annual Christmas ratings war.
Call The Midwife and the revival of Blankety Blank were watched by more than five million viewers.
Other shows to prove more popular include The Queen’s Speech, Strictly and The Wheel.
Some Mrs Brown’s Boys cast members had feared this year’s Christmas special would be a ratings flop before it had even aired.
It has seen its popularity wane in recent years.
At its peak in 2013 it was being watched by more than 11 million viewers — around three times what it is getting now.
The latest viewing figures are a crisis for the BBC.
Execs have recently signed up to air the show for at least six more years.
Boss Brendan O’Carroll convinced them to agree the show will air until at least 2026.
And it has been stipulated it has to have a plum slot on Christmas Day.
An insider said: “This is a nightmare for the BBC. It has signed up to air the show for another six years, but it is losing viewers in the millions.”
The Star reported yesterday how one of the show’s former stars had told pals he was happy to leave the show.
Gary Hollywood, who played Dino Doyle on the show, told pals he was feeling better being away from the show.
A source close to the actor said: “Gary loved being on Mrs Brown’s Boys for a long time. But in recent years things soured and he wasn’t enjoying it as much anymore.”
They added: “Since deciding to leave, he has felt much happier. He is glad to be away from the tension and drama that went on behind the scenes.”