Downton Abbey is no more, so can the BBC reclaim its Christmas Day TV ratings crown from ITV?

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The BBC will be hoping to regain its seasonal crown from ITV this weekend when the channels go head to head in the traditional battle to top the Christmas Day ratings.

Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary, Elizabeth McGovern as Lady Cora and Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith in Downton Abbey
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary, Elizabeth McGovern as Lady Cora and Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith in Downton Abbey (ITV)

ITV won the contest in 2015 with the last ever episode of period drama Downton Abbey, which attracted 10.9 million viewers.

With no Downton in the schedule this year, however, the BBC will be hoping to take back the top spot - possibly with Mrs Brown's Boys, which came first in both 2013 and 2014.

Mrs Brown's Boys star Brendan O'Carroll (BBC)
Mrs Brown's Boys featuring Brendan O'Carroll (BBC)

Other contenders on BBC One include a 90-minute special episode of Call the Midwife and a festive edition of Strictly Come Dancing, which features the final appearance of head judge Len Goodman.

The centrepiece of ITV's Christmas night is a two-hour Maigret mystery starring Rowan Atkinson.

Rowan Atkinson as Maigret
Rowan Atkinson as Maigret (ITV)

Both channels have also lined up extended episodes of soap operas, but recent history suggests the appeal of these programmes is fading.

While EastEnders has topped the Christmas Day ratings six times since the soap began in 1985, it hasn't clinched first place since 2012.

And Coronation Street hasn't managed to top the chart since 2000.

Maria and Aidan in Coronation Street (Mark Bruce)
Maria and Aidan in Coronation Street (Mark Bruce)

The BBC has a long history of winning the Christmas Day TV battle, triumphing in 26 of the past 30 years.

ITV has fought back this decade with Downton Abbey coming first in both 2011 and 2015.

It is unlikely that any record-breaking ratings will be set this year, however.

Mrs Brown's Boys (Alan Peebles/BBC)
Mrs Brown's Boys (Alan Peebles/BBC)

Christmas Day TV audiences have been in steady decline over the past few decades. No programme has won over 20 million viewers since 2001, and 15 million hasn't been reached since 2008.

When Mrs Brown's Boys topped the ratings with just 9.7 million viewers in 2014, it was the first time any channel had failed to get above 10 million since the current system for measuring ratings began in 1981.