By Stephen M. Silverman
December 04, 2002 01:00 PM

Sharon Osbourne usually has the field wide open when it comes to getting an audience, but this year at Christmas she faces some stiff competition. Make that rigid competition: The Queen of England.

The MTV matriarch plans to go head-to-head with the monarch matriarch by delivering the alternative Christmas message to Britons on the telly, England’s Channel 4 announced Wednesday.

Channel 4 said Osbourne’s message — which, like the Queen’s will be broadcast at 3 p.m. on Christmas Day — will be targeted to viewers “who crave more challenging TV fare with their festive pud.” (“Pud” is short for “pudding,” which is what the English call dessert. They call elevators “lifts” and have a strange way of pronouncing aluminum.)

Osbourne, 50, follows in the footsteps of such cult figures as the late Quentin Crisp, Doreen and Neville Lawrence and Ali G.

Channel 4 provided no preview as to the theme of Sharon’s message, which will be recorded later this month, but the station did say that Osbourne, 50, and the Queen, 76, both share a love of dogs and a reputation for hard work.

A Channel 4 spokeswoman added: “Sharon Osbourne connects with our viewers in a way that the Queen can’t. She is a real person who leads an extraordinary life.”