Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Joe Frazier….Call the Midwife, Downton Abbey?
First, there was the Rumble in the Jungle in 1974. Then came the Thrilla in Manilla in 1975. Now, some 37 years later, the new ‘Fight of the Century’ will occur on Christmas Day and feature the Call the Midwife Holiday Special in one corner and the Downton Abbey Holiday Special in the other. While they won’t appear in the same ring opposite each other, there has been plenty of “Rope-a-Dope” between their respective managers in the ring, the BBC and ITV, the past few days.
At the first ‘press conference’ in which both fighters appeared just over a month ago, ITV bosses declared that Downton Abbey would transmit at 9pm on Christmas Day. In a bold, non-American style television move, the BBC One bosses announced their intention to accommodate fans of both period dramas and send Call The Midwife into the ring from 7.45pm-9pm on Christmas Day to avoid any conflict.
In a surprise move and barely an hour before the television schedules were signed off on earlier this week on Tuesday, ITV went all-southpaw and altered the Downton Abbey start time to 8.45p. Having no choice but to counterpunch before the final bell, the BBC decided to move Call The Midwife into a 7.30pm – 8.45pm slot.
Much like their fight of the century predecessors, the true winners will not be those in the ring, but those watching on the telly. When the country tunes in Christmas Day in the UK, they will be able witness two of best programs on telly back-to-back as opposed to going toe to toe in the ring.
U.S. viewers get their chance in the ring beginning on Sunday, Dec 30 with the Call the Midwife Holiday Special followed by round 2 and the Downton Abbey Holiday Special on Sunday, February 17…both on PBS.