Peggy Mitchell’s return to EastEnders failed to topple Coronation Street from the top of the ratings on Friday night.

The double bill of episodes, sandwiched around EastEnders at 7.30 and 8.30, pulled in ratings of 7.82m and 7.57m respectively, according to overnight figures.

The shows continued to focus on Hayley Cropper’s illness as Roy celebrated his birthday – amid the realisation it will be their last one together – and her making plans for the time she has left.

By contrast EastEnders – which saw Barbara Windsor make her much-publicised guest appearance – pulled in an audience of 6.32m at 8pm.

That put it behind Emmerdale which scored 6.62m viewers at 7pm – but the 10pm repeat of the episode on BBC Three attracted 399,999 viewers, putting it on a more level footing with its rival.

Friday’s EastEnders saw Peggy visiting Phil in hospital in the aftermath of his near-fatal car crash, before an extra scene saw the character in Albert Square putting a bottle of vodka on Pat Butcher’s former doorstep.

The actress previously admitted she had made her return in a bid to give the show a ratings boost – and did not rule out a comeback in the future.

“I love it, I love the camaraderie,” Barbara said on This Morning on Friday. “I don’t know about full-time, maybe part-time.”

Peggy previously left Albert Square in 2010 after Phil set fire to the Queen Vic as he attempted to battle his drug and alcohol demons.