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Ratings won by BBC.

EASTENDERS triumphed in the head-to-head battle with Downton Abbey as BBC1 kept with tradition by coming out on top in the Christmas Day ratings.

Overnight viewing figures show Walford proved a bigger draw than the Crawley family's estate, with an average audience of 9.9 million compared with the ITV1 show's 8.1 million (8.6 million including ITV1+1 viewers).

But ITV bosses were celebrating the smallest peak-time gap between the channels for at least a decade with just a 1.4% difference in the share of viewers enjoyed by the two channels. ITV1 drew 29.7% of the TV audience between 7pm and 10.30pm, while BBC1 had 31.1%, when viewers of catch-up channel ITV1+1 are included.

The EastEnders versus Downton battle had become the key focus of this year's Christmas schedule as the two ratings winners went up against each other at 9pm. But even Bates's murder conviction and Matthew's accepted marriage proposal to Lady Mary was not enough to bring triumph to Downton.

Coronation Street was the second most-watched show of the day with an average audience of 9.3 million, helping to boost ITV's viewing share considerably from 2010 when it accounted for just a 22.1% of peak-time viewing.

Doctor Who's now traditional Christmas appearance took third place with 8.9 million viewers.

The BBC claimed seven of the top 10 places, although ITV said it had taken four of the top places using its preferred measurement which includes its ITV1+1 channel.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Dec 27, 2011
Words:251
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