As we settle in to the season of overindulgence, television has once again pulled out all the stops for another fantastic feast of entertainment which acts as the perfect crescendo to the year. But with so much choice, where do you start? Never fear because Beyond The Title is here to take you through the maze which is the Christmas TV listings. There’s doctors, nurses, nuns, Irish housewives, shopkeepers and Paul Hollywood, all in a Christmas entertainment carousel.
In the age of multi-channel and multi-platform content, it’s almost impossible to imagine the days when 29 million people would tune in to The Morecambe and Wise Show and even for me as a 31 year old, magic TV Christmases seem only too few and far between these days. I can always remember my excitement for the Only Fools and Horses special which was the staple of the Christmas Day schedule. There was Noel, Bruce, a brace of Ronnies, Victoria Wood and the obligatory live turkey on Albert Square! Still, this Christmas throws up many treats which hopefully are shining examples that British television remains alive and well.
Moving from its regular spot of early evening on Christmas Day to prime time on New Year’s Day, Jodie Whitaker returns in what has already been a controversial move for the BBC. In this (not so) festive episode, the Doctor comes face to face with an evil nemesis from Planet Earth’s cold and dark past. So cold, even the tardis looks frozen! Will the Doctor, Ryan, Graham and Yaz be able to save Planet Earth from threats of extinction?
Putting the sparkle back into Christmas night, Tess and Claudia welcome some best loved contestants including Melvin O’Doon, Pamela Stephenson, Ainsley Harriott and Denise Lewis to compete in the annual Christmas competition where the winner is decided by the studio audience.
Over a decade since its demise from the weekly television schedule, TOTP once again returns to its normal time slot of early afternoon on Christmas Day. Fearne Cotton guides us through the last twelve months in music together with performances from some of the world’s biggest musical acts before revealing who’s made it to that all important Christmas Number One.
They’re not exactly in the Christmas spirit at Nonnatus House following the tragic death of Nurse Barbara Hereward from Sepsis at the end of the seventh series which aired earlier in the year. Yet a cameo from Miriam Margoyles as the extremely formidable Sister Mildred should bring some much needed joy into the house as two Chinese orphans need some extra special love and attention.
Returning for two seasonal specials, Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding welcome back memorable contestants to take part in a series of Christmas challenges judged as ever by Prue Leith and Paul Hollywood.
This two part BBC2 documentary celebrates the career of the legendary comedian from the docks of the Glasgow shipyard to the glamorous world of Hollywood. With contributions from friends, family and celebrity fans, this is the unabridged story of Britain’s favourite comedian.
The truth always has a habit of coming out at Christmas time on Albert Square and this year it’s Kat’s turn to have a failed Christmas as she discovers the father of Hayley’s baby. Elsewhere the discovery of a long term affair with Keanu could signal the end of the road for Sharon.
So as the debate continues over the future shape of television, we can rest assured that just like many other walks of life, Christmas is still a time to pull out all the stops and enjoy a feast. Frequently haunted by magic of Christmas past, television continues to capture the Christmas spirit of the nation and whilst it’s clear that the days of Eric and Ernie are over, we still love the feeling of sharing a laugh, cry or dramatic moment with our nearest and dearest. Long may it last!