Will 2011 be the year that ITV unseats the 600 pound giant in the room, BBC One, for Christmas Day ratings dominance? Cue Michael Buffer….Let’s get ready to rumble!
The infamous long-awaited Christmas Day schedules for both BBC One and ITV1 have been set, sort of, (as of today, anyway) and war has officially been declared. In a complete departure from how American television broadcast networks treat the day, 11th hour scheduling continues as the BBC tries to counter the ITV juggernaut, Downton Abbey, which is set for a 9-11p transmission on ITV1. At this point, I will only mention one spoiler as viewers will be introduced to one of Downton’s traditions. It’s Christmas Day at Downton and the staff is traditionally given the day off and Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) takes charge of the Christmas lunch.
As of this writing, in the main event of the Christmas evening schedule, the BBC will counter ITV’s DA special with their traditional Christmas Day ratings blockbuster, Eastenders, at 9:00pm followed by our first glimpse at the new Absolutely Fabulous specials at 10:00pm with Eddy, Patsy, Saffy, Bubble and Mother crashing the party for a very special evening that is being teased with a bit of a cryptic warning from the BBC regarding AbFab….a Royal Wedding is re-enacted by Bubble.
This year in the UK, both Christmas Day and Boxing Day television schedules have elevated their game to epic proportions with the addition of Downton Abbey. BBC One will kick things off at 7:00pm with the brand new Doctor Who “The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe”. It’s Christmas Eve, 1938, when Madge Arwell comes to the aid of an injured Spaceman Angel as she cycles home.
Three years later, The Arwells are surprised to be greeted by a madcap caretaker (the Doctor) whose mysterious Christmas gift leads them into a magical wintry world. Ultimately, Madge will learn how to be braver than she ever thought possible. And that wishes can come true.
So…arrive early, get a good seat in front of the telly on Christmas Day and enjoy. If you make it to Boxing Day, you can catch David Jason in the premiere of The Royal Bodyguard. Need more great telly? BBC One is not done yet as 27 December will be the premiere of the newest adaptation of Great Expectations, starring Ray Winstone, Gillian Anderson and David Suchet. Good luck and Cheers.