SANTA WHO ? PART 2 OF THE CHRISTMAS TELLY SCHEDULES SHOWDOWN


Well, wasn't the end of Cranford good! I wept buckets at the death of Gene Hunt and didn't realise the sequel to Life On Mars was going to be set in the 19th Century. Ahem.

Blimey, only 9% of us think the festive TV schedules are any good! The recent YouGuv survey as reported here: BBC News claims that all we want are blockbuster films. Eh? That's not the answer I'd have given them. I'll just pour out a quick port and lemon and give you some reasons why in my further opinion the British public are just plain wrong, I say. Let me perch my specs and carry on with a look at the schedules going into the New Year.

27 DECEMBER
Before you swan off to HMV to take back that DVD of 'High School Musical' and change it for 'I Know What You Did Last Summer Part 96' then you might want to give the Extras special (and last ever episode) on BBC1 a look. Personally, I can't wait for Gervais to stop doing these programmes because he's just so bloody ubiquitous these days. Ricky, take a long holiday. Mine's a Bucks Fizz. Follow that up with...wait for it...oh, it sticks in my throat to say this...a repeat on BBC2 of Judi Dench: A BAFTA Tribute. Well, I missed it the first time and there's nothing like a Dame...*dum roll and cymbal crash*. Thank you.

And that's it. Off to bed with a dirty book and a gin...or catch the latest in the M.R. James At Christmas on Radio 4's Listen Again whatchamacallit. They're running five of the ghost stories at 7.45 each evening from Christmas Eve onwards. Lovely.

28 DECEMBER
Repeats of Celebrity Masterchef, Hetty Wainthropp (a double bill on BBC2...will this pleasure never end) and some dull films litter the afternoon on BBC1. An arthritic James Bond manages to stagger out on ITV.

The evening viewing justifies the recent news story that, according to the Liberal Democrats, Christmas television repeats were up by a quarter this year. If the Liberal Democrats actually took as much interest in politics then perhaps we might eventually return to the three party political system in the UK. Tonight, it's either The History Boys on BBC2, which I haven't seen so I look forward to watching lots of schoolboys whilst clutching a rum and coke, but ITV serve up a repeat of Prime Suspect and C5 dust down an old episode of Law And Order. Pathetic.

Retire to bed not even able to face listening to the radio.

29 DECEMBER
You've finally dumped the turkey carcass and got to the last box of dates. Grab your twiglets and a sherry and catch the double bill that closes the second season of Robin Hood on BBC1. This second year has been a vast improvement even if the constant failure of Keith Allen's Sheriff to foil Robin and his gang has become pure pantomime. Never mind, it's the way he plays it.

Afterwards you might as well get Monopoly out and finish off those sausage rolls with a few stiff gins. I think I'll give my BBC Noel Coward DVD Collection a spin. It's totally spiffing, m'dears.

30 DECEMBER
The afternoons are barren once again. The chill wind of bankruptcy is blowing. You might as well get that exercise DVD out and do stupid movements in front of the telly. It's more entertaining and you'll avoid gout.

Never mind, break open the bubbly as Billie Piper returns as Sally Lockhart on BBC1 in The Shadow Of The North. I very much enjoyed last year's adaptation of The Ruby In The Smoke and thought the Pipes was jolly good in it. And it's BBC, period setting. Nuff said.

NEW YEAR'S EVE
And the prize for bare faced cheek in scheduling goes to C4. Their entire evening is one they've dragged back through time from the summer. Either that or the shelf on which all the transmission tapes are stacked was the only one the continuity monkey could actually reach. A repeat of both of their Monty Python documentaries and Life Of Brian yet again. S'cuse me whilst I put my head in the microwave and refuse to recite the 'dead parrot' sketch.

I note that there is bugger all worth watching. The pages of TV Times are only enlivened by a box-out (that's a publishing term, dears) which thrillingly tells us that Lowri Turner was born on this day in 1964. Her claim to fame is being a panellist on C5's The Wright Stuff. Change your agent, Lowri.

I will be watching The World At War on DVD and knitting myself a gas mask in celebration of 2008's arrival.

NEW YEAR'S DAY
Oh, thank God. A little treat on BBC1. Morecambe And Wise - In Their Own Words so we'll get lots of fab clips and laugh like drains. Maybe not. Two words. Jonathan Ross. Who elected him the British Comedy expert? I suppose the BBC have to justify a salary closely resembling the debt of a third world country.

I see C4 are starting the fifth series of Shameless with a special. It's criminal what they've done to what was once a great, and genuinely funny, drama. These days it is full of grotesques all gurning their way through the most ludicrous situations. It left gritty realism behind several series ago. R.I.P., Shameless.

This year's genuine highlights are few and far between so lay a wreath on the grave of Christmas television whilst we're grieving. Happy New Year!

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