Robert Hampton

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17th December 2009

Xmas the Spot
Posted by at 11.16pm | 1 response | Television

The weather’s getting colder, the nights are getting longer and Ryan Giggs has won the X Factor (or something). It can only mean one thing: Christmas approaches, and as usual the broadcasters clear their schedules for some festive hijinks.

Here is my pick of the Christmas TV schedules. I actually thought I’d done this last year, but in fact it was all the way back in 2006 when I hand-picked some top Christmas telly, so it’s high time I did it again. There’s a lot of dross this year, and a big thumbs down to BBC Two who fill an hour of precious peaktime on Christmas Day with a repeat of the previous week’s Top Gear! Still, there’s some proverbial wheat to be found among the chaff. Here’s my choice.

Never Mind The Buzzcocks (22 Dec, 9.30pm, BBC Two)

I’m cheating slightly here because this is a repeat, but the original showing on the 16th falls outside the remit of this blog post. It’s the Doctor Who special, with David Tennant presiding over proceedings, because surely a contrived cross-over with a sci-fi series is exactly the shot in the arm this show needs.

FACT: Buzzcocks was only ever good during the brief period when Simon Amstell was hosting it. This might be worth a look though, as on guest duty we have Bernard Cribbins and Catherine Tate representing the Whoniverse, alongside adorable jazz-man Jamie Cullum and Jo Whiley, taking time out from her Radio 1 show I’m Jo Whiley and I Think I’m More Interesting Than I Am.

The Big Bang Theory (24 Dec, 9pm, E4)

A standard non-Christmas episode, but I’m including it anyway because it’s funny and clever and has great performances from the main cast. It’s a big smack in the face to telly snobs who moan about sitcoms with studio audiences.

QI (24 Dec, 10pm, BBC One)

David Tennant makes his second panel-show appearance of the week, answering questions, it says here, with a “groovy theme”. Always worth a look this one, although I doubt it will be able to match this moment from a previous Christmas special.

Doctor Who (25 Dec, 6pm, BBC One)

A low-key slot and very little promotion for this oft-overlooked science-fiction drama. However, I confidently predict that this could garner reasonable viewing figures, if we can get some buzz going on the Internet.

Nan’s Christmas Carol (25 Dec, 10.30pm, BBC One)

Catherine Tate’s most popular character gets a festive spin-off. I’m not sure that the foul-mouthed pensioner can sustain 45 minutes all by herself, so this could be awful, or it could be brilliant. And bloody hell, David Tennant’s in this as well! Does his pension fund need topping up or something?

Harry Hill’s TV Burp Review of the Year (26 Dec, 6.30pm ITV1)

Despite the title, this is apparently not another best-of, but an all-new show dealing with programmes which weren’t on air during TV Burp’s regular run. This is of course the best thing being broadcast on ITV this Christmas, and to emphasise the quality it’s followed later on that night by an Ant & Dec special and All Star Family Fortunes (stop calling the first round “Single Money”!)

Great Railway Journeys (29 Dec, 9am, BBC Two)

It’s long been traditional for BBC2 to repeat some popular documentaries during the daytime over the Christmas holiday (cue Daily Express ranting about ENDLESS REPEATS). It’s the turn of Great Railway Journeys this time round, and this one is the highlight: while Ian Hislop crossed India and Clive Anderson explored China, Victoria Wood spent a few days mooching round Regional Railways. Recorded just before the privatisation of British Rail kicked off in earnest, it is a fascinating snapshot of the network before John Major ruined train travel forever. Also, it has a joke about Ceefax in it, and we’re the last generation that will understand the reference.

Whose Line is it Anyway? (30 Dec, 7pm, Dave)

A Christmas special from 1989! Despite the presence of a pre-HIGNFY Paul Merton, it’s not the best episode, and it’s going out pre-watershed, so will no doubt have been hacked apart by the blunt knife of the UKTV compliance department. I mention it only because it gives me an excuse to link to this wonderful video culled from the taping of this episode, showing attempts by the cast to make a trailer for the show. It’s great to hear Tony Slattery bantering with Clive Anderson while the cue clock counts down.

Doctor Who (1st Jan, 6.40pm BBC One)

David Tennant (THE BEST DOCTOR WHO EVER) regenerates into someone WHO’S TOO YOUNG TO PLAY THE ROLE PROPERLY etc. etc.

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One Response
  1. Comment by Scott
    18th December 2009 at 10:49 pm

    SSSHHHHH! Don’t give away the secret of D***** W**. If we keep it under the radar only us cool kids will watch it.