I think we can divide this into two categories - the TV that we all remember - and the TV that we actually get these days.
===CHRISTMAS TV WE REMEMBER===
I was a child in the 1960 so did have TV at Christmas - albeit a black and white one with very few channels.
However the fact that our choice of programmes was limited did not diminish our enjoyment of the programmes. We would avidly pore over the TV or Radio Times to see what gems of programmes we had to look forward to - and they were carefully marked so that we did not miss anything. In those days it was only one TV in the living room so we pretty much all watched the same things.
Even the adverts and channel logos were interesting to watch when they started getting Christmassy - and I enjoyed watching Blue Peter in the run up to Christmas for all the interesting 'makes' they would have. I also enjoyed any of the craft sort of programmes that would have been on.
Of course on Christmas Eve there was always a film such as 'Jason and the Argonauts' which I loved watching - though they were quite old even then.
Later on on Christmas morning I always loved watching Noel Edmunds as he went round children's hospitals - it always seemed to represent the spirit of Christmas. Of course after lunch there was always Top of the Pops - and we would usually watch the Queen's Speech - mainly because there was no option I think!
The afternoon and evening of Christmas was always good wholesome family entertainment - and I can recall one year when the programmes were so good we could not drag ourselves away to just pop to te kitchen to make turkey sandwiches for supper - I think it must have been Morecombe and Wise.
There was also enjoyable films such as 'Its a Wonderful Life' and also late night scary ghost stories. I also recall the lovely cartoon film of 'Rudolph and the Land of Misfit Toys' - with Burl Ives as the narrator snowman.
===CHRISTMAS TV TODAY===
Well I read in the newspaper today that about 50% of our Christmas TV this year wll be repeats.
Today we seem to have so many more channels but we are not as content with what we have to watch as we were many years ago - or is it just that we look back with fondness on Christmasses past?
I suppose when my sons were growing up we did not have much time to watch a lot of TV. These days we can now watch a bit more but I often find it a little uninspiring. I do enjoy 'The Snowman' which is now a firm part of the Christmas tradition. We sometimes get a decent film on Christmas afternoon - but with DVDs and people visiting the cinema more it is likely to be one we have seen.
Every year the soaps build up to a climax on Christmas Day - there will be births, weddings, deaths, and whatever other sort of drama they can think of - all very contrived - and dare I say it boring now. I did enjoy Downton Abbey last year and there s another episode this year too. Also Dr Who is worth watching - well mainly because its a bit better than the other offerings.
They usually have a Christmas Special of some sort on Christmas night - one year it was 'Only Fools and Horses' and another 'One Foot in the Grave' - these were both good family viewing for the whole family - t he same could not be said when they decided to screen 'Men Behaving Badly' - or even The Royle Family'.
With so much going on in homes these days - computer games, internet etc the TV is no longer the main focal point for the family, and I know by Christmas night we all tend to drift off to our separate rooms to watch individually.
===IS IT BETTER OR WORSE?===
This is hard to answer. In my memory it was better when I was a child, but I think that may be because of rose tinted spectacles and if I see any of the 1960s or '70s programmes now I do not find them so absorbing as I imagined I once did.
We do have more choice in one way, but a lot of the different channels are showing repeat shows anyway.
Also, although I enjoy Christmas craft and making shows I d find the santa-suited host in almost every show a bit tedious.
However some of these shows and formats are now becoming traditional in themselves - so whether we love or hate it we will have two weeks of old films, repeats and Christmas orientated shows - before we finally get back to 'normal' after New Year's Day.
Christmas TV has always been a mishmash of old well-worn now traditional favourites demanded by viewers year after year, and a slew of mainly awful new festive viewing experiences. Among the movies, both festive and not, shown at this time of year there is a creation we call the Christmas Television Special. This strange anomaly has its tiny performance criteria set out in the title. It must be made for Christmas and it must be made for television. The special bit is the rather superfluous part that designates this episode is different from others. Isn't every episode supposed to be? The Christmas part doesn't necessarily mean it has to have a Christmas theme, it just needs to made and scheduled for a Christmas release, but the television part is an absolute rule even though certain Christmas specials, such as the "Kung Fu Panda Christmas Special" and the "Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas", are clearly spin-offs from popular movies.
Christmas specials, as we know them, started with "Mr Magoo's Christmas Carol" in 1962. Before then they were either one-off adaptations of Christmas stories or the Christmas edition of a variety show. Variety shows, although not my preferred childhood or even adult TV watching, resonate with me due to my circus heritage. I now look back on them with a warm sense of faux nostalgia, thinking back to a time when my family's circus held a prime time TV slot on Christmas Day with a production of their show.
Since then Christmas specials have varied from awful sappy sanctimonious renditions of some tale or another about Santa Claus having problems delivering presents to the most long-winded and protracted series finale I have ever had to experience: "Dr Who: End of Times". Before this lengthy affair with perhaps the longest dying sequence ever created for fiction, we had already had two false starts with David Tennett apparently on the verge of regenerating. I just found myself shouting "Get on with it!"
Below is my list of Christmas specials that I would happily re-watch each year. They are not in any particular order.
A Charlie Brown Christmas
I think this is perhaps the most beloved of all the Charlie Browns bar the original feature length film, "A Boy Named Charlie Brown". Its appeal comes from its honesty and simplicity. Like a lot of Schulz's stuff, it might have been written for children, but there is plenty on offer to appeal to the adult viewers. The central focus is on the way Christmas has become commercialized and the real message has been lost. Looking back it has many of the trappings of a Christmas special I have grown to loathe and its ending is surprisingly un-Charlie Brown. Nevertheless, it is beautifully produced and somehow works with its use of metaphor - Charlie Brown seeing the beauty in the most wretched of Christmas trees. There are also some very witty lines delivered by most of the cast. This stands as the classic, but in many ways the 1992 "It's Christmas Again, Charlie Brown" is superior. Not only do we get the inclusion of Peppermint Paddy and Marcy, but it ends in typical Charlie Brown fashion.
South Park: A Very Crappy Christmas
Since its inception "South Park" has had a firm tradition of lampooning Christmas specials. The first two precursors to the show were Christmas themed episodes, "The Spirit of Christmas ('Santa versus Frosty' and 'Santa versus Jesus')". After that every year's episode seemed to be a different way to send up the Christmas message. "A Very Crappy Christmas" saw the return of their unique Christmas character, Mr Hankey the Christmas Poo (originally introduced in an episode named after him in season one) with his drunk wife and odd children, and it had a direct pop at "A Charlie Brown Christmas", even turning the special's message on its head by the time the end credits rolled.
Only Fools and Horses: Time on our Hands
"Only Fools and Horses" is the most beloved British sit-com in history. They have also had a steady stream of Christmas specials, which have since been inherited by "Rock and Chips" a more serious prequel of sorts. Many of us looked forward to each year's special, as David Jason, who played the chancing Peckham wheeler/dealer "Del Boy" Trotter, and Nicholas Lyndhurst, who played his clueless younger brother, Rodney, began to take on other projects. Eventually the writing was on the wall as the regular series ceased and the only thing left was the Christmas Specials. By the time this one, the third part of a trilogy released that very Christmas that also consisted of "Heroes and Villains" and "Modern Men", was released the show had long since past its prime. It was this desperation to satisfy customers, but ultimately ruining the product that Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant would acknowledge when they called it a day for two of their popular TV sit-coms with Christmas specials. Nevertheless, this trilogy was a surprise and stands out as one of the best since the days of Granddad and the early episodes featuring Uncle Albert.
"Time on our Hands" does what every finale should do. It brings closure on everything, changing the dynamic by the end so much that it would seem mad to go back again. The ending is satisfactory and the laughs keep coming until the very end. Sadly five years later the first of three annual Christmas specials would attempt to bring back the magic and pretty much prove it should have been best left alone. This is how the whole story should have ended.
The Office Christmas Special
"The Office" introduced mainstream viewers to the Ricky Gervais/Stephen Merchant dream team. Not since Steve Coogan's Alan Partridge had British comedy been so awkward and yet so cool. They somehow presented flawed human beings, regularly exhibiting every type of mortal weakness, and laid it bare for us to love. The Christmas Special pretty much demonstrated the art of restraint. It absolutely concluded the series, which had only had two seasons. Gervais went on record to say he was disappointed by the way other great comedy franchises had milked the Christmas special tradition to farcical lengths and he didn't want to do that with his creation. Instead he sold The Office concept to the USA who have promptly murdered it from the first episode onwards and still milking it for all its worth after the seventh season!
Anyway, the two-part extended episodes that Gervais and Merchant produced seamlessly tied up all the loose ends left from the end of their last season in a most satisfactory way. There was a good-feel ending, although it is completely believable and humour on the way was superb. It also gave us the opportunity to finally see characters like Gareth in a position of genuine authority and for David Brent to drop lower than ever in every respect made for excellent role reversals. Everyone gets an opportunity for revenge and change. Gareth gets humiliate David. David finally gets to tell Chris Finch, a man he suffered putdowns from and desperately tried to emulate, to "f*** off". As for Tim and Dawn, well that is also very satisfactory.
Extras: Christmas Special
Gervais and Merchant scored almost as impressively with "Extras" as they did with "The Office". "The Office" Christmas special did touch upon Z list celebrity fame to a certain degree, as David Brent ended up appearing on a humiliating celebrity Blind Date live show, failed as a pop singer and tried to use "The Office" series to impress future dates. "Extras" takes us through the life of Andy Millman, a persona not unlike Ricky Gervais, who wishes for fame and fortune, but can never get the balance. The single extended Christmas episode is more thought-provoking than any of the fabulous two seasons that preceded it, with Gervais pretty much highlighting the same message that runs through the excellent movie "Swimming with Sharks"; what is it that you really want?
The episode is not short on laughs, as Stephen Merchant's equally funny performance as Millman's now former inept agent is spot on. His various attempts to see Millman who has desperately tried to break away from him, evoke both pathos and lots of laughs. It seems mad that despite this show's sharp and wry observations the exploitation continues without any subtlety. There doesn't seem to be any slowing down of celebrity-making factory shows like "Britain's Got Talent" and "X Factor". The same can be said for the humiliating reality shows starring celebrities that have slipped down the rung of success. All of this stuff is sent up in the finale of "Extras" and Millman's announcement on "Big Brother" about it being no different from a Victorian freak show is very apt.
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Blue Carbuncle
It was pretty handy for Granada Television, producers of "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes", that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created a Christmas short story adventure for his most famous creation. Granada timed the release of this episode perfectly during the Christmas of 1984. This was a particularly festive year in my memory. It was the year of "Gremlins" the perfect anti-Christmas film, although I would have to satisfy myself with audio books and toys until the film made it to video as I was too young to see it at the cinema. It was also the year of "The Snowman", perhaps one of the most beloved Christmas TV movies in Britain, and the cosy six-part children's TV series "The Box of Delights" that will spell out Christmas to many of my generation.
"The Blue Carbuncle" looks well produced three decades on with Jeremy Brett is fine form as the best onscreen Holmes in television and cinematic history bar none. Some of the Granada series took great liberties with Doyle's original work, but they were more loyal than most. This is such an example with some entirely justified changes that make for a better visual ending. For the record Peter Cushing also played Holmes in an adaptation of this story in the 1960s series.
The League of Gentlemen: Yule Never Leave
Although the third series of "The League of Gentleman" certainly had its moments and also used an interestingly different concept, this Christmas special ended the best days of Royston Vasey. It plays homage to the Amicus horrors of the '60s and '70s with an anthology of creepy stories set around Christmas and featuring the main characters from the TV series. The vampire story starring Herr Lipp is the standout piece, although it is tight competition with the origin of the curse ill-fated vet, Mr Chinnery. This latter story is recounted again in a very spooky version of Jackanory on the DVD's special features.
Blackadder's Christmas Carol
There have been enough adaptations of Charles Dickens's famous Christmas story to make you shout "bar humbug!" at the top of your lungs. Most are dismal and lazy. However, this one written when Richard Curtis and Ben Elton were at the height of their Blackadder powers, set to give us the fantastic final series "Blackadder Goes Forth", ranks alongside the Alistair Sim 1951 classic and the Muppets' brilliant version. Here the story is set on its head with a Victorian Blackadder, Ebenezer, being the most hospitable and kind-hearted man in Christendom. Unfortunately his good natured personality leads to him being taken advantage of on a regular basis, particularly at Christmas. He takes it all in his stride as the familiar "needy" characters of the story strip him of all his festive treats. However, that night a Christmas ghost visits him to show him the sins of his ancestors at Christmas and what might happen in the future. It's a wonderful opportunity to re-visit the Blackadder of Queen Elizabeth I's court and the Blackadder who was butler to the Prince Regent in the two preceding series. All of this of course teaches Ebenezer Blackadder an important lesson: "Bad guys have all the fun!"
Well, there's my round up of ideal festive TV fun. As we live in an age of digital TV and DVDs it's great to think we don't have suffer the nonsense they churn out each year. Happy Christmas!
I was spun into a bit of tailspin last week when looking at the schedule in my Christmas TV Times, the religion of ringing the seasonal telly for the holidays producing the realization that there was no Only Fools and Horses repeats this year, and considering the pure volume of repeats there were listed in the magazine this was a big surprise. Brucie and the 1973 Christmas edition of the Generation Game made it on at 11: pm Boxing Day night but Del's was nowhere to be seen? In fact there were so many repeats in the schedule that there was a TV first this year, the BBC showing the terrestrial premier of 'Superman Returns' on Christmas Monday primetime then repeating it the next day at midnight, very poor schedule filling indeed. Why they couldn't put another film in that slot is beyond me.
It was the first year that online TV services dictated the big shows numbers, people able to watch Dr Who as and when they wanted on the BBCi player. This could signal the end of event TV, the big seasonal specials on the way out. The likes of the Morcombe & Wise show would not survive today with internet TV. The BBC did manage to put enough new content out to score nine of the top ten watched programs over the holidays, Wallace & Grommet topping the list with 14million viewers. ITV just didn't bother and C4 was offensive as ever by having the Iranian President broadcast his Christmas message of killing all gay people and Jews, no doubt Al-Quieda code for Palestinians rockets to rain in on Israel. I suspect C4 days are numbered on the analogue system. Just how far has that station fallen.
<*><*><*> CHRISTMAS EVE <*><*><*>
Have I Got News for You
You can't really go wrong with HIGNFY as it's just so topical and well written and great for mum and dad to relax to after they have helped Father Christmas with the presents for tomorrow.. The festive edition stood out like a diamond in a bag of coal on a very poor nights Christmas Eve terrestrial TV. Alexander Armstrong from the painfully unfunny posh boy duo of Armstrong & Miller hosted with aplomb!
Gavin & Stacey
I have to say I'm baffled with what all the fuss is about with this show, now a multi award winner and rated 5 stars religiously in many a TV magazine. It's well written, warmly familiar in a cliché sitcom way, and the actors are developing their characters. The early episodes of Only Fools and Horses were no where near as funny as series two and three either so always be patient. But unless you can relate to or like the characters in a sitcom its game over early on. I find the whole thing too shoutey and ever so slightly working class patronizing, as is the Royal Family, middle-class writers perhaps writing what they think working class life is like. None of the characters are remotely intelligent and those Welsh ascents are awful! We also discover that the writers continued their mocking by naming the families in the show after serial killers, the West's and Chapman's to name but two.
<*><*><*> CHRISTMAS DAY <*><*><*>
Hurry up and regenerate Tennant, bad back or not! I have to say this was a bit of a damp squib, especially as it's the Christmas Night Special, reinforcing the feeling Tennant is bored of it now.
It was obvious Neil Morrissey wasn't the new Doctor and the constant regurgitation of the Cybermen and Daleks throughout the series is quite frankly boring. Although the Doctor was in London it was bloody Cardiff again! Doesn't that TARDIS ever leave Earth anymore? Sounds rather dull being the Dr in this millennium if you ask me. On the new Doctor I have heard that the BBC politically correct police haven't succumbed and the next Dr will be a young white male. I was dreading they would go the whole hog and have a disabled vegetarian Dr, a wheelchair ramp for the TARDIS! A hot tip points to a local Northampton boy and unknown actor called Tom Smith getting the gig.
Strictly Come Dancing
The farce continues as the BBC flogs the dieing horse that is SCD to death with this pointless Christmas Special. You all know about that latest farce that because 4 out of the 6 couples finished level on points the audience vote was some how discarded first time around causing an hours break in recording. It was then decided Len Goodman would decided the top four, which then saw this non discarded studio audience added to the 'final vote' to decide a winner. It was pretty obvious that the winner wasn't really the winner and lots were drawn behind the scenes. Looking at the couples sheepish smiles they knew the whole thing was a farce. It won't be decommissioned next year but its days are numbered.
Blackadder Rides Again
Not a bad little hours documentary here on the quite brilliant BBC comedy series and the people who made it. All the stars, writers and production team contribute, including the often reticent Rowan Atkinson in these interviews, each in their representative new surroundings some 25 years on from the very first Blackadder series, the worst one by far.
There was a bit of the Python reunion about it as none of the cast or the crew seemed to want to appear in the same place at the same time for the show, only Tony Robinson, Baldrick, of course, providing any continuity by walking and talking with the shows producer. Stephen Fry was in rural East Africa being massaged by a young black man whilst Hugh Laurie was interviewed on the set of 'House', his big US success. Tim McKinnery, who played Captain Darling, had the least success and so had aged the worse because he couldn't afford the plastic surgery.
You could see the social class tensions on the show between the Manchester University lot of Ben Elton and Rik Mayall and the air of superiority around the Oxbridge lot of Writer Richard Curtis, Atkinson and Fry, what the series success was really about, making for an excellent erudite comedy hour for Blackadder fans.
Dragons Den around the World
This looked good on paper but was rather dull. The original idea for Dragons Den, as the title suggest, came from South East Asia, the land of the dragon, Japan and China doing the first ones of this now world wide franchise, this program taking a look at the different version's around the world. The original Japanese show was rather brutal, lots of bowing and dressing down by the dragons for bad business ideas. As expected the Nigerian one had some interesting business ideas, I'm sure most of you having been emailed by them, one of their Dragon a convicted fraudster. What we did learn from the other shows is the whole thing has now become about the Dragons ego and not the entrepreneurs. One Russian Oligarch has made no investments in three series so far, even though he's almost a trillionaire.
The Secret Millionaire Changed My Life
This was a catch up program on the last series of the 'Secret Millionaire' in which 8 millionaires gave away just over one million pounds to worthy causes. I was a big fan of the first series as the millionaires were genuinely down and dirty and living off subsistence wages in grotty bed-sits so they got a feel for the poverty of the community they may give to. But there was a distinct lack of willing volunteers to go through that for the next series so they let the rich people chose their accommodation, as long as it wasn't too nice. There's also a feeling in the later series that you have to give money or you will look really bad, the rich folks scrambling around to find a worthy cause, usually settling for the under-funded community centers. One millionaire gave to a blind working class Scottish guy who was quite literally 'blind drunk'; drinking so much on the dole he lost his sight. As the guy was hand over the 10 grand cheque the blind man had a pint and a fag on!
What we learnt is that the people we caught up with had indeed made good use of the money, but the people we didn't see on the show presumably hadn't. The millionaires had one thing in common in that they had concentrated their donations on people who were just like them once. But the hours TV was ok and the only thing that leaves a bitter taste in the mouth is that most of the millionaires made their money from poor people, the very people they were now giving the money back to with more than a hint of guilt. One guy made £70 million from giving loans to people who couldn't get bank accounts and normal lines of credit. I think we all know about his interest rates...
<*><*><*>BOXING DAY <*><*><*>
The IT Crowd
It wasn't a seasonal episode but it was still good, as it always is, the best new British sitcom since The Office. The strength of it is the likeable characters fusion with the excellent writing, but the silliness of the whole thing puts it in that top bracket of comedies. This week's episode saw Reynham Industries make a corporate novelty calendar for charity, but not with naked ladies as planned, Roy having to use grannies. Brilliant! If you want to see a brilliant new sitcom then this is it guys. It's hidden away on C4 but go find it.
<*><*><*>Saturday to Tuesday<*><*><*>
Justin Lee Collins does Fame
I've really enjoyed this series on reuniting the stars of various 80s TV series and great movies. Justin Lee Collins has tried to reunite everyone from the cast of Star Wars to Dallas and has had mixed success, inevitably the biggest stars like Harrison Ford and JR giving him the big brush off. But this episode was the best yet; Collins rather theatrical bombing around Los Angeles's, this time producing good results, his engaging laddish West Country charm earning five of the series six biggest stars turning up at the reunion gig and champers at the agreed time. What was nice about it was the cast clearly wanted to meet up again after all these years and muddy water that had flowed under the bridges over the Los Angeles River (a storm drain) it was only egos keeping goods friends apart.
Top Gear does Vietnam
I'm not sure if this was a repeat but it was rather fun, the boys riding across Vietnam on mopeds. You never know how much editing goes on but it was a good hour's telly and the boys did have to slum it some. I have to confess I'm fully paid up Top gear fan now after watching the show for most of the year. Jeremy is God.
The Real Italian Job: James Martins Mile Miglia
In keeping with the Top Gear theme someone called James Martin, apparently a daytime TV Chef, spent most of his personal fortune on buying a classic Italian sports car to compete in the Mile Miglia, Italy's famous road race. The rest of his salary was clearly spent on his young model wife.
The guy clearly wanted to 'big himself up' on telly and over extended himself in every way here, a man with an ego the size of his repair bill for his beloved 1943 Masaratti when it conked out on day one of three. Oh how we laughed. If this was a race then I'm Stirling Moss. Only Jez, Hammond and May do cars well and this guy rose to the challenge of making entertainment TV about as well as his soufflés. Worth the hour just to see his mess up!
Shooting Stars: The Inside Story
Its 15 years since the first series of Shooting Stars kicked off on the BBC, a quirky, frivolous and very silly quiz hosted by Vic & Bob, of course, this comical documentary hour the showcase to a possible new series. There were irreverent interviews with all the prominent panel members and captains plus comment from the lesser known guests. As you would expect with Ulrika Johnson going into the Big Brother House last night she tried to dominate this documentary. With a mock introduction from Geordie Ian Healey from Aufweidesein Pet it was great fun as Vic and Bob got to go through all the memories with some fun new characters and impressions.
Shooting Stars was so much fun and well written, and improvised, that we took it for granted somewhat and that's why the BBC dropped it last year. Watching the clips here made me want it back fast. You also realize just how good Matt Lucas was back then as the baby...
Harry Hills Review of the Year
I'm puzzled why this guy wins so many awards, clearly just a good comedy writer with a better team of writers around him. I reckon those writers drew lots and the one who looked best in the silly collar was put in front of the camera and told to read the jokes off the autocue. Yes I did chuckle at some bits of his unique brand of observational comedy TV but I'm pretty sure anyone can do his job. I know I can and Beadle certainly did.
Michael Palin: Around the World in 20 years
A 64-year-old Palin was politely asked by the BBC to come up with something to celebrate his twenty years of travelogues for the channel. He graciously accepted and was packed off around the world to revisit some of the places and people he met on 'Around the World in 80 Days'. Hands were shaken and big smiles were creased but it felt self-indulgent and rather distant from Palins original ethos. It was quite interesting to see how much glamorous building work has happened in Dubai since 1988 and it was rather poignant to see him revisit Delhi (now Mumbai) three months before the attacks, eating and drinking in the very same western watering holes that were shot up. But I would much rather the BBC budget was spent on other things, like Palins pension, as loveable as he is.
<*><*><*> NEW YEARS EVE<*><*><*>
Tony Robinson and the Blitz Witch
Tony Robinson three part series on the paranormal came to ahead on the last day of the year as Baldrick and some paranormal skeptics (the audience) continued to pick over strange paranormal events in history, including the Scottish medium who claimed to know when British ships were being sunk during World War 2 before the Navy did. As hard as Tony tried to open his and our minds to the possibility of the paranormal (bored male viewers like me distracted by the most attractive middle aged female skeptic the production team could find) it was quickly revealed that all of the people they investigated were indeed all fakers by the evidence they uncovered. You don't say!
Its gullible women, of course, who pack out the church halls to hear the readings of these mediums and spiritualists and I presume the core target audience of this show to be fooled again. The only question left to ask here is why they bothered with three hour long shows to deal with a load of old and predicable fraudsters looking for attention?
<*><*><*>NEW YEARS DAY<*><*><*>
The sexy Radio Five Live morning show girl, Victoria Derbyshire, revealed to her audience that she was asked to go on Celebrity Mastermind. She also revealed she was sent a crib sheet of the question she *may* be asked. I read on dooyoo that the same thing happened to someone here who was asked to appear on the regular Mastermind, she given three books to buy off Amazon that have the answers in. Now I know the BBCV have been asked to dumb down to get a bigger audience but maybe we know why these people can answer all those impossible questions now, especially on Q.I.
The celeb Masterminds have been running all week with a mix of erudite and incredibly dim celebs with less than predictable winners. The ethnic quota in the form of Labor MP David Lamey (the next Obama, they say) was hopeless whilst some bird from Eastenders managed to beat the highly bookish Mel Smith, who seems to be talking like a Dalek these days. But knowing they were sent books to look up the answers it didn't have the same effect and I soon gave up on it all.
Why I Love Celebrity Big Brother
To set up yesterdays launch night there was neat hour on the previous five shows and chats with the winners and losers. I have to say I love Celeb Big Brother and enjoy Z-Listers being humiliated. But how many of them have seen this show boost their careers. A fat zero it seems. It really is the end for them.
= = = = January 2nd = = = =
Live Celebrity Big Brother launch
I'm not ashamed to say I love CBB and will be hooked in. I thought it was pretty pathetic to drop it last time after stitching up the imbecile Jade Goody. Shilpa handled the coarse East End family with great dignity and in no way were the girls being racist. They were just a little bit thick and that's why they were put in the house.
This years contestants are a mix of C-List Americans and Z-List Brits, Ulrika Johnson and Terry Christian the most well known. The star is already 2ft, 8" Verne Troyer, Minime from the Austin Powers movies. He's been given a little ladder for the house and is already being smothered by the girls. The plonker of the house has to be one hit wonder, Coolio, who sang about gangster's paradises, which he wasn't from.
Rude Tube 2009
A nice little filler from C4 saw the top 50 youtube style videos in a one hour fun show. I'm not a big fan of downloading these videos as it uses up a lot of my time and internet usage and so this show was all new to me. The number one video of 2009 was unbelievably dull, a small baby biting his big brothers finger, but others were great fun. The funniest was black American church congregations that were dancing around for Jesus and someone had put a speed jungle track over the top... and I'm still laughing now.
If theres one thing guaranteed for people to moan about at Christmas its the TV schedule. I often think its just an apt reflection of our own seasonal pessimism that we manage to bemoan the apparent lack of choice, proliference of repeats and general apathy amongst television producers. This all means that we are resigned to playing with the kids latest Playstation games or join in with aunt Gerty as she falls asleep on the sofa after a turkey overload. Logically, this shouldnt be so. What with Freeview, Sky, a multitude of cable channels and the Beeb and ITV engaging in their annual ratings warfare then youd think we are spoiled for choice these days and the reality is, we are. Of course, for those desperate to escape the calling of the wee box that usually sits in the corner trying to dominate our lives with subliminal messages from advertisers then there are viable alternatives. You could try the overlong Peter Jackson "King Kong" movie or the latest incarnation of Narnia on the big screen both are H-U-G-E productions with the latter shading it for me with just a little more charm and a little less bum-numbing intensity to its running time (although the 1920s recreation of Manhattan is stunning in KK).
The big build up in our household this year was for the Dr Who Christmas Special. Thrown together by Russell T Davies after the phenomenal success of series 1, the Christmas Day show sat neatly in the evening schedule at 7pm, long after the sprouts has settled and the Christmas pud had started to digest. Complete with a sinister, Santa brass band, a killer Christmas Tree and the latest Dr Who doing a good impression of Arthur Dent from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (wearing his jimjams throughout), the new Doctor, David Tennant, had to battle the Sycorax to stave off a Christmas Day invasion. Theres no doubting that Dr Who has come a long way since the dreadful Sylvester McCoy almost killed off the notional alien from Galafrey. Mega spaceships, BBC News broadcasts and a surrogate family from a London council estate all bring the new Doctor bang up to date with modern times and yet my 10-year-old lad was left feeling a little disappointed. In the end it was all a bit contrived and yet the interactive show that immediately followed on BBCi (Attack of the Graske) was much more fun as me ladio got a chance to fly the Tardis, find the rogue alien, pick some locks and generally play a poor mans X-Box or what have you. Maybe theres a message in there somewhere.
Needless to say, the omnipresent Ant and Dec popped up with a Christmas Takeaway show. With the usual mix of game show, audience mocking and tomfoolery (Carol Thatcher reduced to bucking a play bronco?), Ant and Dec still hit that populist nerve that make an hour with them seem as familiar as the Queens Speech (and how sombre was that this year?). I particularly liked the bloke who was pulled up on stage to show what a miserable git hed been as his daughters had to guess his reaction to being asked to buy charity Chrimbo cards from a Santa, asked to fill in for a part in a Nativity play and give some Carol singers a donation. He met all 3 situations like most of us would i.e. with indifferent disdain. I mean, who would really stop during a Christmas shop in a mall and agree to fill in for a play? Erm....nobody is the answer although he did take Scroogeness to very competent heights.
For those of us who love their movies then Christmas time is always a Pandoras Box of delight. With the billionth screening of Wizard of Oz, Ive found myself guilty of short attention span and a penchant for surfing that would grace the Billabong Odyssey. Yep, Ive sat through snatches of Gremlins (dontcha just love the scene in the cinema where all the Gremlins are watching Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs"?), Independence Day, Shrek2 and Minority Report to name but a few without ever managing to finish any of em. However, this is where the Guest Syndrome kicks in as it proves impossible to keep everyone happy with your choice of programme. Holey moley, Ive even sat through snatches of Eastenders, Coronation Street and Emmerdale although I did bail out before any permanent damage was done and left my visiting ma-in-law to catch up with all the latest soap opera shenanigans as I found something more interesting to do like play with the tortoise or feed the guinea pigs.
For those who feel overwhelmed by the whole thing then I strongly recommend finding a quieter moment to yourself. I managed this tother day as the family disappeared to visit my sis-in-law to marvel at her Christmas lights in the shape of a reindeer in her front garden. Finding a suitable excuse, I stayed on my own, ignored the TV schedule and watched the latest George A Romero zombie flick on DVD. Land of the Dead was about as far removed from Christmas as you can get and proved a 90 minute oasis in a desert of Yuletide excess.
Well, its not all over yet. Officially, the 12 days of Christmas finish on January 5th and theres plenty of TV to come still. The sporting schedules looked packed for us Alpha males (or Alpha females if you's like yer sports) with Sky doing us proud whilst cricket aficionados can follow the Australia v South Africa encounter from Down Under. As ever, the sporting calendar is also guaranteed to put a strain on the seasonal goodwill in households unless you can sneak upstairs like me and watch it on Sky multiroom in the bedroom (he he). Boxing Day was enough to put many relationships to the test with wall-to-wall live footie on from midday through until after 7pm. Charlton v Arsenal, Liverpool v Newcastle and the mighty Aston Villa (4) v Everton (0) meant that if you were looking for an excuse to end your marriage/partnership then here it was. Still....I only watched...erm...3 of 'em although it was just fits and starts of the Liverpool/Newcastle game as a wooden doll's house and its construction drew me away for a while.
When you weigh up all the choice then there isnt really that much to complain about is there? Unless its all just the product of a stressful time of year where its easy to aim that bile at an inanimate box of electronics in the corner. I know what my moneys on.
Thanks for reading and enjoy the rest of your holidays.
Interesting festive article to read if you get bored: http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/eng_prem/4552650.stm
Who stole good Christmas TV? I'm sure it wasn't really as good as I remember it being when I was younger - my memory has filtered out all of the rubbish we must have got back then - but I can still recall enough to know that this year's offering has been terrible by comparison. BBC and ITV are locked in a game of chase the tail; it doesn't matter if something is good or bad anymore, just as long as it's cheap and somebody else has made some money out of it before. How else can you explain all those celebrity quiz shows, five heats of The World?s Strongest Man and New You've Been Framed? Take out The Office, which stood head and shoulders above everything else, and there has hardly been anything original, let alone halfway decent, on the main two channels this Christmas. When Out Take TV and repeats of Airline get primetime 7.30 slots at this time of year then something is very, very wrong. Dragging Only Fools and Horses out again wasn't much better; the only laughs came from Trigger's trademark stupidity. Funny, but we were laughing at the same jokes ten years ago, about the same time as John Sullivan lost the ability to develop his characters. What was the point of Damien? Didn't Boycie use to be funny? True, there have been some good films on over the past week: Amelie was a great choice for Christmas Day and I could happily watch Kes and Billy Elliot every single year (unlike The Great Escape), but where's the great comedy and original drama? Mayor of Casterbridge on ITV and The Office aside, everything else has been shunted on to BBC 2 or late night Channel 4. Most people have seen new films long before they get to terrestrial TV nowadays so surely the TV companies should be spending more time developing their own original programmes? Part of the problem is the senseless rivalry between BBC1 and ITV1 over the Christmas viewing figures. They're so caught up in who got the top spot on C
hristmas Day that they don't seem to have noticed the millions who are switching off - even the top two or three programmes this year barely scraped past fifteen million viewers. As much as I hate to admit it, there was a time when I used to look forward to seeing the Christmas TV schedules, when it was an essential part of the festivities. Now I'd sooner sit through the Queen's Speech than the average evening?s entertainment. The papers complain about repeats but they're nowhere near the worst of it. The TV executives obviously think that if you can't get away with putting the exact same show on time and time again then you just need to reheat it by making a celebrity / reality version, getting people who used to be famous to talk about it or adding it to some list or other. We had the 100 top film heroes and villains, the 100 greatest TV treats of 2003, the world's greatest bridges, best of programmes every other night, the 100 greatest musicals and anything else that could be stretched out over half a dozen commercial breaks, most featuring the same talking heads saying the same things between clips of the same programmes you've seen every Christmas since your first colour television. Nothing beats reality TV though. We've done the format to death now - the normal people who replaced the professional actors are so boring that they've brought back the boring professional actors to impersonate normal people. So we get lots of once famous people who can't get any other work anymore appearing on programmes alongside 'real' people who can't get any other work anymore. It's surely only a matter of time before we get 'Animal Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?', 'Teenage Probation Officer Swap' or 'Sink Estate Mastermind'. Short of asking Antony Worrall Thompson or Jim Davidson to write a celebrity dooyoo opinion, the only fitting way to end this is with a top five
list of the top ten Christmas programmes. At least it won't take me long to whittle the choices down. 1. The Office 2. Amelie 3. Kes 4. Billy Elliot 5. Arena: Alec Guinness If it's any consolation, digital TV wasn't much better. Thank goodness for sleep, alcohol and DVD players.
Christmas is the time of year for presents, lots of food, time of work, tv and oh yes the birthday of Jesus! This year my other half and I haven?t spent a lot of time at home during the festive period, but luckily the various family members we visited wanted to watch the major two things I was looking forward to watching this Christmas, Eastenders and the last ever episodes of the Office. Eastenders always promises exciting Christmas drama and this year was no exception. Weeks before hand people starting promising each other that they would have the best Christmas ever, this is never a good sign in Eastenders as it means that the person is going to find out their husband has slept with their sister/their long lost husband turns up/ they will have a huge slanging match in the vic. Kat has been going around telling people about the new start her wedding to Alfie Moon will be, whilst he was secretly not quite divorced. Also a big cliffhanger was prepared with the Watts/Mitchell feud promising to reach new heights when Phil escapes from prison and ruins the Watts ?best ever? family Christmas. Also other promising storylines were Little Mo?s secret rape and Gary planning to leave Laura and Bobby (who isn?t really his baby) to get back together with his pregnant, estranges wife (although only periodically estranged!). So we settled down to watch the extra long double dose of Eastenders on Christmas day and watched a complete anti climax. Where was the shouting in the vic? shouting at anyone, crying on Arthur?s bench in the middle of the square. After punching dirty den Phil was paid of and disappeared. After a close shave and the briefest of shouting Kat and Alfie were married and there was a scene outside the Vic with the square?s inhabitants being happy under the snow provided by a fake show machine. Most disappointing this is not what I expect from Eastenders. Luckily the Office was everything I was hoping for. The first of the two episodes o
n Boxing Day was slightly weaker as they were setting the scene and going over what had happened in the three years since the office documentary finished. The funniest bit was the Brent master in a tacky, minor celebrity blind date affair with the black man from the Halifax ad, Bubbles from big brother. The funniest bit was David coming in strutting his stuff in a naff Austin Powers suit. The piece de resistance was the episode yesterday with the Christmas party. Look away if you have it taped! Some of it was quite cringey, but hilariously funny, such as when David is banned from his constant trips to the office to keep his ex colleague?s morale up and asks them who will go out for a drink with him and is met by a deathly silence. It was a brilliant finale for the programme. The Dawn/Tim saga was sorted out, I won?t say how some of you may not have seen it. So that?s my humble opinion on the little TV I watched hurray for the office try a bit harder next year Eastenders.
Well we all know that as Christmas is nearing the good old BBC and HTV/ITV will in their wisdom put on the repeats again. But hey! I still love to watch the Wizard of Oz, how many of you guys can truthfully say you have never watched it more than once, and why? Because it is a classic. Unfortunately they don't make films like that anymore so we do tend to suffer some terrible repeats. But on the up side there has been a few good dramas been shown over the past few years too. Did anyone see Ebenezer Scrooge last year played by none other than the old Grant Mitchell himself, now I really enjoyed that it was yet another classic tale but with a totally modern theme to it. Very good I thought, now this year we have a drama with David Jason and I must say it, on preview it tells me it is like the tale of Oliver Twist, we shall have to see, a typical Dickens edge to it I think. Don't get me wrong the new films, well I say new. The likes of Toy Story, which is being shown on Christmas day, now I enjoyed that too but for different reasons I guess, it made my children laugh and when something does that then it is worth its weight in gold. The home alone movies classic films for Christmas day, I bought a video from Wollies the other day just for the children to watch and it was fab, all about Santa who lost his memory because he was going to fast in his sleigh and fell out and landed in New York. I could watch it again if you want a film to get you into the mood then go and get Santa Who, a very funny yet touching film. Don't knock the old classics and repeats they are not always bad you know, just remember that the memories of your Christmas are in your heart and in the people who you share Christmas with, too much TV does kill the art of conversation I know, BUT DON'T LET IT. Enjoy the season because the next one will be here in 12 months and you will be left wondering where has this year gone to? Happy Christmas everyone. <
In the good old days ('during the war...') Christmas television was special. The schedules were completely cleared and all the regular programmes were replaced by Christmassy specials. Not now though. For the last ten years or so, soap operas have slowly strangled the life out of prime time. In Australia they take their soaps off air for a few weeks over Christmas - jammy bleeders. The question is, will the downward trend of yuletide telly continue? And the answer is: yes, it's all much of a muchness again... The Beeb are sitting pretty though. As well as Only Fools and Horses, they have three big films new to those of us without dishes and stuff:- Toy Story on Christmas afternoon, Shakespeare In Love (New Year's Day) and The Truman Show (Sunday 30th). I'll certainly tune in for one of those. (Clue: I can live without Tom Hanks and Jim Carrey.) ITV's Christmas starts promisingly with Harry Hill's TV Burp on Saturday marking his ITV debut - something funny on ITV? What are the chances of that happening? But apart from that and their new Dickensianishy spin-off drama Micawber (starring David Jason) they haven't made much of an effort - you'll get extended epidsodes of Emmerdale and Coronation Street and lump it. Unbelievably, there don't appear to be ANY new films in ITV's schedules at all. They're even shown up by BBC2 who have acquired a trio of quality terrestrial premieres:- Pleasantville, Good Will Hunting, & Meet Joe Black. BBC2 also have their usual Christmas mixture of a Fast Show night, some old films (It's White Christmas, instead of It's A Wonderful Life this year, and the Marx Brothers make way for Laurel & Hardy) and some Marilyn Monroe movies. They don't have the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures any more (Channel 4 nabbed those last year) instead they'll be repeating Michael Palin's Around The World In 80 Days and Pole To Pole. Rumour has it tha
t Michael Palin hasn't been on the telly for a while because he's been trying to travel from Land's End to John O'Groats on public transport! BBC2 will also air some long lost episodes of Dad's Army on Friday 28th. As usual Channel Four will broadcast an alternative Christmas message, this year it will be delivered by a survivor from the World Trade Centre. Other highlights include The 100 Greatest TV Treats of the Year on Saturday 29th, and a new Heroes of Comedy tribute - to the wonderful Leonard Rossiter on Thursday 27th. And about time too. As for Channel 5 - you don't really care do you? Suffice it to say that Home and Away and Family Affairs will carry on as usual, even on Christmas Day. There's no sign of the Wizard of Oz, and it's Mary Poppins' turn this year instead of The Sound of Music. Other old chestnuts include:- Dr. Dolittle, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The King and I, Zulu, Jason and the Argonauts and Fiddler on the Roof. Ah yes, Christmas television certainly puts the z's into déjà vu, doesn't it? There are also an uncountable number of documentaries about J.K.Rowling, and every possible variation of A Christmas Carol/Scrooge(d) too, of course. CHRISTMAS EVE ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ Don't worry if you haven't done your Christmas shopping yet, leave it till the last minute, then you won't be faced with the choice of Mary Poppins or Zulu, and if you get caught up in the crowds, you'll miss Flubber too! But make sure you don't miss the last in the current series of I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue at 6:30pm on Radio Four (repeated on Sunday at Noon.) BBC1 are offering us a Christmas edition of Parkinson (with Lenny Henry, Robbie Williams, Geri Halliwell, and Dame Edna Everage.) Channel Four have Christmas specials of Trigger Happy TV and Banzai! While ITV's 90-minute special: Christmas Glory from New York could b
e quite poignant. CHRISTMAS DAY ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ The traditional juxtaposition of Top of the Pops and the Queen's Speech on Christmas afternoon is broken this year by the unfathomably named 'Hamilton Mattress' an animated tale of an aardvark with low self-esteem. [Insert corny old Christmas cracker joke here...] Rolf Harris takes over Noel Edmonds' schmaltzy Santa role after Her Maj, while ITV have decided to be ironic and screen The Great Escape. If you want more, MORE??? consider yourself watching Oliver! on Channel Four and stay tuned for the Countdown final, but if you do you'll miss Toy Story and the first visit to Albert Square on BBC1. I think I must be getting old, because I'll be tuning in to Radio Four again at 4pm for Rumpole and the Old Familiar Faces. I can't imagine who BBC2 are expecting will watch their bizarre afternoon of ballet, interrupted by The Simpsons, and followed by The Weakest Link, but they do redeem themselves by showing White Christmas. I might just watch that one year. At 6:25, a battle of the sexes may break out, as two hours of soap on ITV clash with the first part of the Beeb's dinosaur adventure The Lost World. But by 9pm we'll all be watching the return of the Trotters in Only Fools and Horses. Cushti. Then can I tempt you with a celebrity edition of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? Oh go on, it is only a waffer thin programme... If you want to know what greater spotted teenagers have been listening to in their bedrooms over the last twelve months, John Peel's Festive Fifty countdown begins tonight on Radio One, building to a climax on Thursday. BOXING DAY ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ In the past, Boxing Day was a video recorder's worst nightmare, but this year I reckon those fancy new DVD players will be shouldering the burden of home entertainment. Along with yesterday's cold turkey, you can watch another animated film
(Antz) followed by The Lost World (part 2) on BBC1, The Weakest Link again on BBC2, and the celebrity Millionaire continues on ITV. But I'm afraid you won't find me dooyooing between 9pm & 11pm, as I'll be glued in to the new feature-length Jonathan Creek mystery. NEW YEAR'S EVE ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ Tut! You wait all year for a film of a Roald Dahl book, and then two come at once. The Beeb plan a Dahl double bill, with James and the Giant Peach and Matilda. Now before you go out to get pished and swim in a fountain, don't forget to set the video for Bremner, Bird and Fortune on Channel Four and the Have I Got News For You Review of the Year on BBC1. NEW YEAR'S DAY ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ Traditionally, January 1st for me always begins with The New Year's Day Concert from Vienna. I listen to it in the bath every year (whether I need one or not!) Conducting The Blue Danube is usually the highlight of a very dull day, but then again, as the Chinese will tell you, it's better than living in interesting times. How the Beeb expect people to choose between Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and the repeat of Jools Holland's Hootenanny this afternoon I don't know. But ITV's pantomime Dick Whittington (with Richard Wilson as the dame, and Paul Merton as er, someone funny) will be compulsive viewing at 5:30. All together now... Oh no it won't! If you don't fancy Shakespeare In Love or Corrie there's always I Love The 100 Best Top 10 Lists of the Fast Show Ever! tonight on BBC2, or an unusual selection of music on Channel Five:- Britney Spears, Iron Maiden and John Lennon! They may have no viewers, but they are trying, bless 'em. And they did get one thing right in 2001 - they produced my favourite new programme of the year: The Mole. __________________________________________ | Other Christmas television opinions are available... | ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ ______________________________________________ | Have a very MERRY CHRISTMAS and a HAPPY NEW YEAR! | ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ ___________________________________________________________ ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯
Ho ho ho, I love Christmas Television. The festive season for me starts with getting the TV times with it's 2 weeks of listings and scouring through it to see which classics are going to appear on the television this year. I get out my highlighter pen and highlight my favourites. Sometimes it's old movies that I have never seen or Christmas favourites that appear year after year.(The Snowman is a classic!). I often get irritated by the way the programme schedulers often pit one film against another and sometime 3 great films that I want to watch are all on at once. I know I can video one and watch another whilst stuffing my face full of peanuts and chocolate, but which one do I miss out on? This is all part of the excitement for me. The radical decision making of Should I tape Only Fools and Horses Christmas special, watch James Bond film and miss the Morecombe and Wise special. Oh decisions. I will find it even harder this year as I have now got digital TV and the choice is even greater. Maybe I should just switch off the box and play with my presents instead. Some shiny new PS2 games hopefuly (Wife, take note!) Overall TV at Christmas is great and Christmas just wouldn't be the same without loads of repeats to watch whilst feeling bloated from over indulging. Merry Chrismas everyone and happy viewing.
As days and months go by, And the Spring has now begun, I sense myself pining, For a month of joy and fun, It’s been too long already, It's only March 23, But how oh how I miss, Christmastime TV. Allow me to take your hand, And bring you on a ride, Into the life I live, Nearly every Yuletide, So put your feet up for a moment, Dunk a digestive in your tea, And pretend it’s now Winter, Anticipating Christmastime TV. The Radio Times is ordered, Let’s skim through its pages, It’s only December 1, It won’t yet start for ages, But planning is essential, To co-ordinate my partner and me, And ensure we get the most, Out of Christmastime TV. There’s bound to be a Bond film, Indiana Jones too, I know I’ve seen them all before, I know! I know! It’s true! But there’s nothing like a classic, An action film is key, It’s not often I’m disappointed, By Christmastime TV. Now it’s Christmas Specials, Those annual celebrations, This kind of telly always works, Entertains all generations, An Eastenders denouement, And a News Quiz is my plea, I don’t think they’ll be missing, from my Christmastime TV. Some comedy would be next, On my TV check list, There’s nothing like a good laugh, Especially when you’re inebriated, Two Ronnies from the past, And some Goodness Gracious me, Old laughs and new, please, On my Christmastime TV. My partner’s going to the gym, She wants to get in shape, So I whip out Sports Review of the Year! I saved it on video tape. Oh, I hope there’ll be good drama, Some Jane Austen maybe, I like to get some culture, From my Christmastime TV! So now to all you cynics, Yes I know there’s lots of repeat
s, But some I really love, And there’ll be lots of new-made treats, I look forward to December, Opening the Radio Times with glee, It makes shop-Xmas-muzak worth it, Just for Christmastime TV. Almost. Well, now you know how I feel about Christmas TV in general, let's explore the films you can anticipate hitting your screen once more this Yuletide. ~~THE BOND FILM~~ Christmas=Bond Simple as that. Give us his 1960s incarnation, or 70s, 80s, 90s or even 00s (how appropriate) and we'll all tune in, in droves. Viewing figures are consistently high for these films. And one day I'll get around to taping them all. But whether it's a golden oldie like Thunderball, or a recent one like View to a Kill, I just love them. Christmas without Bond just wouldn't be right. He may be fictional, but he's a genuine British hero. Do pay attention 007. And do come back this December. ~~THE BLACK AND WHITE MOVIE~~ We don't have too much time for Black and White films these days. I understand that the kids today have the patience to watch Black and White films. Which is a shame. At Christmas time, I think the TV schedulers look to round off their film schedules and for that reason are happy to include well-known classics of the Black and White age, such as Citizen Kane and Casablanca, for the audience that already knows and loves them. I'm pleased that they do this, because it does give an opportunity to a new generation to see these films on mainstream network TV, whose schedules are usually too full of regular gunk that goes off air at Christmas time. ~~THE MUSICAL~~ Why have they stopped making musicals? The ongoing huge success of musicals in the West End and Broadway and the huge takings of Disney cartoon features (90% of which are musicals) indicate there
is a ravenous audience out there. Whether it's a children's classic like The Wizard of Oz, or a more adult production like Cabaret, Christmas time allows the schedulers to give us what Hollywood currently isn't. They're repeats, but that's at least in part because there's nothing to replace them. And I think that a film like The Sound of Music, which looks so dated, has lived on as a popular choice because music doesn't date in the same manner. A truly great song will always be a great song, regardless of fads. ~~THE PREMIERE~~ Many people regard this as the highlight of their Christmas viewing. That Blockbuster you saw not that long ago in the cinema (the speed with which they move from cinema to video to TV seems to be increasing). Or the Blockbuster you've gnashed your teeth about missing. Or the Blockbuster you weren't sure about paying to watch. Whatever, now's your chance. For free. And whether it's the latest bangs, bellylaughs or bonks you're after, here it is. There's usually a plateful of premieres at Christmas. Mind you don't get indigestion. ~~THE FUNNY~~ Personally, I'm fussy about comedy and find much of it embarrasing (particularly John Candy films. Ugh!) But I know that Christmas is a depressing time. Suicide rates soar. Families have bust-ups. People who are alone feel lonelier than ever. So what better than something to cheer everyone up? A Pink Panther film, or rubber-face Jim Carrey. Whatever. And if you're watching as a family, as many will, comedy is ALWAYS funnier when you watch with other people. Unless it's King Ralph you're watching. ~~THE FILTHY~~ For some reason, Christmas seems to encourage all the broadcasters to follow Channel 5 into the wobbly-bits arena. If this is your cup of tea, shut t
he curtains and tune in and... whatever. ~~THE GODLY~~ It can be forgotten that Christmas is actually a religious festival. I know that's a little shocking. Sorry. Anyway, the broadcasters occasionally nod to this with a token piece of religious filmmaking included in the schedule. This is usually something horribly inaccurate, but that's Hollywood's fault, not the broadcasters. I'm interested in religion and love historical films, yet I'm rarely impressed by films in this genre. However, it might be easier to form an appreciation of them if more were shown and the range was expanded. Hey! Terrestrial TV! Please note that The Life of Brian is very funny, but is NOT religious programming. ~~THE SCHEDULE~~ Generally speaking, this is well done. What I mean is that appropriate styles of film are shown at appropriate times of day. So if you tune in at 10am on Boxing Day when all normal people are surely in bed or church, you'll find films for kids who've been up since 5.30 playing with their presents and are now completely bored with them. However, on the theme of kid's scheduling, I do find that children's films are often scheduled rather late, often finishing around the time of the watershed. This clearly makes sense to the broadcaster, who want to show the latest vehicle for Demi Moore to take her clothes off, after a 5 minute news break. However, this isn't clever for kids or parents who have to be demonised by imposing bed-time in mid antic or suffer a horrendous tantrum filled morrow. Sigh. The watershed itself, however, is a great idea and generally works. One eternal gripe is that BBC and ITV will often schedule aggressively against one another, prompting one to tape one (don't BBC realise they lose out here - who would prefer to tape a load of adverts?) I don't t
hink we can ever expect this to die out. In fact, since the birth of Who Wants to be a Millionaire, it's got worse with programmes scheduled to end at 5 past or whatever. We have to grin and bear it, which is a shame. ~~THE VERDICT~~ Christmas films may be a melange of repeats and gems, but because so many are shown, there are bound to be a plethora that appeal to all. I defy anyone to pick up the Christmas schedule and compare it to another fortnight during the year and genuinely, objectively declare that the Christmas listings offer them less that appeals. So quit moaning about it and gear up for Christmas. Now that I've updated this op, there are only 273 shopping days to go!
You know, Christmas tv was excellent this year(!!) I don't know anyone else but I was absolutely delighted with the prospect of watching a film where hundreds of people meet their death in icey water - for 3 hours!! *How* did this film merit 3 hours?!? The only film I wanted to watch was "The Dead Poets Society" but it was given a ridiculous timeslot and, with the holiday season technically over, I had to go to bed to be up the next day. When Titanic was on, ITV wasn't offering much either - there was an episode of Emmerdale....and then another. Then there were episodes of Coronation St and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. Y'know, I think I slept through Christmas day and re-emerged on a normal weekday! "Doubles" of programmes seemed to be in abundance this holiday. If I decide to watch a show, I usually can't schedule my time to view a concluding part. I think I am automatically put off when I see a two parter or a three part programme as I just *know* that the final part will be shown an a different day or in a different time slot and I will almost certainly miss it. Additionally, if I decide to tape it, the show *will* run over and my tape will run out... It's pretty bad when you end up watching UKGold for most of the festive season...
The quality of television programs this Christmas has to be the worse ever. Each year there seems to be less and less quality films and shows, but yet we all seem to be paying more than ever to what the T.V (Sky subscriptions etc) There was just nothing but double episodes of every soap going, Coronation Street, EastEnders, Emmerdale and Brookside and again Chris Tarrant makes multiple appearances with Who wants to be a millionaire on Christmas day and on boxing day. Is this really what we want? Yes, it is nice to have the odd soap or game show but not two episodes a day, what we would all like is a nice film we can all sit down and whatch. Also something that I found very tedious this year was that in-between all of the soaps and repeats all the channels were packed with SALE adverts fore just about every shop you know e.g. Curry’s, Courts, Argos. Let’s hop then can improve on this next year, or can it really get any worse?
Well of course I do, that is the xmas TV was total rubbish, I have not seen such a kick in the teeth for us TV viewers for a long time. The schedules are full of repeats, crap films and programmes made up of bit and pieces from other programmes. There has been only one thing worth watching, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, and that was made in the late seventies! Its hard to decide who is worse, but at least we don't have to pay for ITV, C4 & C5, even the kids programmes are repeated. I suggest that we all with hold our TV licence money until we get a better service, what do you think?
Having scanned through the Christmas listings this week I was appalled at the pathetic offerings from the terestrial channels. Now Only Fools And Horses is not on there is absolutely *nothing* that catches my eye this year. All I can say is thank goodness we have digital. There's lots of Christmassy films (which we haven't seen 20 times) for the kids, great entertainment on the sky chanels, music and loads of interesting non-repeated documentaries on the Discovery genre chanels. This, or frequent trips to the video shop. I really pity those who have to rely on what BBC and ITV has dished up this year.
Yes, let's just shoot the TV! That would be one way at least to stop the flow of all the 'oldies but goodies' making their way onto our screens at Christmas!! Or would that be just a tad over the top? I don't know, maybe those old flicks aren't so bad. I mean Christmas is a time for remembering the past, isn't it? Which is exactly what we are doing when we watch runs and re-runs of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Mary Poppins, Herbie Goes Bananas, The Goonies, Indiana Jones.... Wait a minute, this is sounding like the usual terrestrial TV weekend line-up! What are we complaining about?! Clear up this discussion now and treat yourself to Sky Digital for Christmas!