HIT comedy The Inbetweeners Movie gave Channel 4 a boost and helped mask a slump in its profits, the broadcaster revealed yesterday.

Last year’s cinema spin-off from the TV series, which charted the misadventures of the teenage friends on holiday in Crete, grossed £45m at the box office and enjoyed bumper Christmas DVD sales.

Channel 4 made a loss of £42.3m last year, although the 4Channels group, of which it is part, reported an overall increase in profits.

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The group, which includes digital channels More 4, Film 4 and E4, made £941.4m, up £6.2m on 2010.

Its annual report showed the success of The Inbetweeners Movie and an improved performance by its digital channels helped boost revenue.

The flagship Channel 4 network had a 6.8 per cent share of the audience last year, falling to 5.9 per cent without Channel 4 +1. This was down from seven per cent in 2010 and its lowest since 1984, when it had a six per cent share.

It coincided with the channel’s first year without long-running show Big Brother.

4Channels’ digital audience share grew by 0.4 per cent last year to 4.8 per cent.

Spending on entertainment and comedy was increased in 2011, although there was a decline in the amount used for film and drama programming, largely due to a reduction in the number of US shows it bought in.

The focus in the coming year will be original content, with a planned budget of about £450m for programmes made in the UK.

It will be the biggest investment in the group’s history.

“Many organisations will try to weather the economic storms by pulling back investment,” said the group’s chairman, Lord Burns.

“The Channel 4 Board, however, had taken a longer view: we believe the right thing for Channel 4 is to increase content investment in 2012.”

A sequel to the popular children’s animation The Snowman will be aired.

There will also be an increase in one-off single dramas and drama serials.