BBC bosses are determined to beat ITV in the Christmas ratings war.

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They plan to broadcast a festive special of new drama Call The Midwife in a bid to outshine ITV’s popular Downton Abbey in the 9pm slot.

BBC executive Pippa Harris said: “Christmas celebrates one particular birth, and so it’s fitting for BBC1 to pay a visit to these much-loved characters, whose lives revolve around the joys and tribulations of childbirth.”

The Christmas special of the hospital-based period drama – which stars Miranda Hart, Pam Ferris and Jessica Raine – will foreshadow the second series which starts in January.

The BBC will kick off their festive schedule with heartfelt Pixar animation Up as well as new Disney favourites The Princess and the Frog and Tangled.

Christmas specials of Doctor Who and EastEnders are planned for the early evening, finishing off with the postponed 2011 Royle Family special after Call The Midwife at 10pm.

But the broadcasting channel faces stiff competition since award-winning show Downton easily beat EastEnders in the ratings last year.