BBC bosses have headed off a ratings clash by moving the final edition of TV hit Call the Midwife after ITV chiefs scheduled a head-to-head clash with Coronation Street.
The show has been shifted from its usual 8pm slot after ITV1 dropped an episode of Corrie into its Sunday night programming later this month.
BBC executives are thought to have been infuriated by the move which is being interpreted as a spoiler for its 1950s drama which has been a surprise hit.
ITV claimed it needed to find a place for the Street after it was squeezed from its Thursday slot by a Europa League tie between FC Porto and Manchester City.
Now the BBC has decided to shift its East End nursing drama to 8.30pm on February 19 to avoid any difficulties. The show has been pulling in more than nine million viewers and was instantly commissioned for a second series after it proved to be popular with viewers.
It is understood BBC bosses have seen the move as aggressive and believe ITV could have placed the edition of Corrie in another slot, such as a Friday double-bill.
The spat is reminiscent of the Saturday night TV battles which raged briefly in 2009 when the two channels screened Strictly Come Dancing and The X Factor almost head to head when chivalry was put to one side.
A BBC insider said: "Call The Midwife has been the standout hit of the year and it's both surprising and disappointing for viewers that ITV1 were prepared to sacrifice an episode of Coronation Street just to damage its audience."
The Sunday night slot for the Street also means Dancing On Ice will be placed half an hour earlier.
But a spokesman for ITV said it was simply a case of screening Corrie at the first similar slot which was available.
He said: "Coronation Street will move out of its regular 8.30 slot on Thursday because the Porto/Man City game is being screened.
"We've moved it to Sunday because that's the next available similar time slot and it's for one night only."