Downton Abbey and (right) Alfie and Kat Moon from EastEnders. Matt Smith as Dr Who (above)
BY AMANDA POOLE
High drama will be served up at Downton Abbey come Christmas day, but who will triumph in the festive television ratings battle?
Misery-fest EastEnders is always a contender for the top spot and the Strictly Come Dancing and Absolutely Fabulous Christmas specials are sure to rate highly, but all eyes will be on the main offerings from BBC and rivals ITV.
While a two-hour episode of Downton Abbey, being screened on ITV1 at 9pm, will go head-to-head with EastEnders, Dr Who airs on BBC1 at 7pm.
In 2010, Christmas television viewing figures were at their highest for a decade and as there is less cash around this year and more time being spent at home, this trend is likely to continue.
Last year, EastEnders knocked Dr Who into second place, with viewing figures peaking at 11.7m, but Sky Bet spokeswoman Helen Jacob said the science fiction family favourite might well be the dark horse to sneak through with most viewers on Christmas Day this year.
The show fronted by livewire and 11th Time Lord, Matt Smith, appeals to all age groups. Quirky comedian Bill Bailey is just one of the stars drafted in to ensure Dr Who fans enjoy this Sunday’s one-hour episode and its exploration of a magical wintry world.
Downton Abbey has had a phenomenal 2011, scooping a host of industry awards.
ITV director of television Peter Fincham said the second run of the hit show is the most watched drama series on television in over a decade and is sure to poll well on Christmas Day.
Actress Lesley Nicol, who plays Mrs Patmore in the period drama, says the Christmas special will be a real treat for fans of the show.
The halls of Downton Abbey will most definitely be decked with bows of holly and downstairs staff will be letting their hair down as the Grantham’s fend for themselves on part of Christmas day.
The odds on who will win the Christmas TV battle:
Doctor Who - evens
EastEnders - 2/1
Downton Abbey - 9/2
The Gruffalo's Child - 12/1
Coronation Street - 20/1