Broadcasting: Telly rivals call a truce for Christmas – you can, too


With the much-publicised trouncing of The X Factor in the ratings by Strictly Come Dancing, the rivalry between ITV and BBC is as healthy as ever. But have the networks called a Christmas truce?

Days after ITV announced a two-hour Downton Abbey special for 9pm on Christmas Day, BBC1 confirmed that its 75-minute episode of Call The Midwife would go out at 7.45pm, allowing viewers to watch both. It's a surprising turnaround from past years, when the rivals' top shows often went head to head (last year the BBC's EastEnders claimed victory over Downton, beating it by 1.5 million viewers).

Still, with other inevitable clashes, here are a few tips for a peaceful festive period in front of the box.

1 Most big shows will be available to view on catch-up services such as BBC iPlayer and 4oD. With an iPad, you can join your family on the sofa and watch something else. There's no need throw the remote at your brother's head.

2 If you have Sky+, learn how to use it so you can record any clashing shows (be sure you delete some old stuff so you're not down to your last 2 per cent of disk space).

3Still recording programmes you're going to miss with a VHS recorder? That's cute. Stock up on some blank tapes (and think seriously about a technology upgrade).

4 Forget the Queen – not to mention the Dowager Countess of Grantham – why don't you and your Christmas crew have a television blackout? Instead of fighting over the channels, you can settle down to watch a nice box-set together. Now, if only you could decide on a box-set…