Downton and EastEnders go head-to-head

  • Bang Showbiz
  • 30 November 2011
Joanne Froggatt

'Downton Abbey' star Joanne Froggatt

The BBC are gearing up for the ''biggest ratings battle for decades'' by scheduling 'EastEnders' against 'Downton Abbey'

'EastEnders' and 'Downton Abbey' will go head-to-head on Christmas Day (25.12.11).

The BBC has made a last-minute change to its schedules, pushing back David Jason's comedy 'The Royal Bodyguard' from the 9.30pm slot to Boxing Day (26.12.11) in order to move their flagship soap to a later 9pm time, meaning it will go up against the two-hour special ITV have scheduled for their popular period drama.

A source said: "This year ITV bosses knew thy had 'Downton' up their sleeve as a secret weapon and they are pulling out all the stops with a two-hour show. The BBC have been chopping and changing right up until the deadline.

"And although David Jason used to be a ratings banker for them in 'Only Fools and Horses', he has been moved to Boxing Day to protect his show from clashing with the established brand of 'Downton'.

"It looks like being the biggest ratings battle for decades."

ITV insiders are accusing their rival of "running scared" of 'Downton' and making desperate changes to try and triumph in the annual battle.

The source added to the Daily Mirror newspaper: "The BBC were running scared and changed their whole schedule just hours before the deadline."

Last Christmas, the BBC had eight of the top 10 rated shows over the festive period, with 'EastEnders' drawing the most viewers at 11.8 million.

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