Sunderland Open All Hours star thrilled as show named best-watched

Open All Hours starring James Baxter, as Leroy, and Sir David Jason, as Granville. Picture: Gary Moyes.
Open All Hours starring James Baxter, as Leroy, and Sir David Jason, as Granville. Picture: Gary Moyes.
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MACKEM actor and Still Open All Hours star James Baxter is celebrating success after his TV show was named best watched programme over the Christmas period.

The remake of the beloved British sitcom Open All Hours netted a peak audience of 10 million when it aired on Boxing Day.

James, 23, of Barnes, said the ratings, which beat Coronation Street (7.91 million), Strictly Come Dancing (7.3 million) and Downton Abbey (6.59 million) took him by surprise, though he was expecting the programme, starring Sir David Jason, who reprised his role as Granville Arkwright, to attract a large audience.

“I’m really pleased,” he said. “I expected it to do well, partly because it was on during Boxing Day on BBC One, and it was such a big series.

“But I didn’t think with Eastenders and Mrs Brown’s Boys being on, and being so big, it would do so well.

“I was just blown away.”

Raucous comedy Mrs Brown’s Boys came second in the ratings, receiving 9.4 million viewers for the first of two special episodes, which aired at 9.30pm on Christmas Day.

James, a former Farringdon Community Sports College student, watched Still Open All Hours with his family – mum Beverley, dad Martin, sister Laura, and wife Dominique – at home, in Sunderland, and said he was pleased with their reaction to the show, which saw him playing Granville’s son, Leroy.

“The feedback was really positive,” he said.

“Some critics were sort of harsh, but that’s always going to happen with a show that’s been brought back.

“The public were really nice about it, and really seem interested to see where the show could go now.”

The one-off episode, which saw Granville inherit the shop from his uncle Albert Arkwright – played by the late Ronnie Barker – has been rumoured for a return series, although nothing has yet been confirmed.

James said he is excited at the prospect of the programme becoming a regular TV fixture.

“I am looking forward to see what will happen now,” he said.

“And I feel it is in the best position for a commission which it could be, but it is still up in the air until we get the phone call, so I’m just keeping my fingers crossed.”

The former Emmerdale actor, who also starred in a remake of TV show Red Dwarf, on channel Dave, last year, is now back in London after spending the festive season on Wearside.

“I loved being home,” he said. “It was great.

“I got to see everyone I wanted to, and spend time with my family.

“To be honest I really wasn’t ready to leave. I love coming back to Sunderland.”