Xmas TV

Yes, all these posts will be behind schedule, but I reckoned Xmas TV was worth mentioning this year, why?  Because it was a mess.

Now Xmas TV isn’t what it once was.  In previous years (read, when I were a lad) the Xmas schedule was mainly about big film premiers.  This was the tent pole to every channel’s schedule and I’m sure many of us remember sitting around marking off films in the radio times arranging who got to see what.  The prevalence of Sky Movies and cheap DVDs now means that people are more likely to have seen the big films at home before a normal channel gets them; this takes a lot of the power out of these films.  The thing is Xmas TV is hard.  For close to two weeks you have to act as if everyone now wants to watch TV all day, not just between 6pm-11.  People are on holiday after all, you can’t get away with Diagnosis Murder here.  A good few premiers fill up hours of schedule, but now a film premier is less of a ratings guarantee the main terrestrial stations have been a bit confused.

In the vacuum caused by this state of affairs, the BBC has definitely done the best.  This is despite the tabloids normal BBC bashing announcement about the number of repeats on over Xmas; this is despite calling ITVs higher number of repeats “Classics”.  The BBC has risen to the challenge with a variety of Xmas specials.  In fact, on Xmas day it was BBC1 all evening.  The mainstay is of course now the Dr Who Xmas special, which brought me out in fanboy delight this year, because such a big deal was made of it.  David tenant was in everything and the Beebs Xmas idents were Dr Who themed.  This year Dr who was Xmas.  We also had specials from programmes for all tastes, a Catherine Tate special, more Gavin & Stacey, strictly come dancing, plus on other days we had Xmas specials of QI, Russell Howards good news, a 2 part mini-series of Day of the Triffids and the Top Gear South America special.  In fact the BBC should be praised.  They filled a hole normally occupied by films, new or repeats, with new, self made programming.  So what did they do wrong?  Well, on the run up quite a few shows got mucked about in the schedules, specifically for me Defying gravity and James May’s Toy Stories.  Second, there were some very odd repeats, such as the Top gear special being on two consecutive days.  Finally there was a missed opportunity, the big film this year was Pirates of the Caribbean 3, shown on Boxing Day.  However, later that week they showed Pirates of the Caribbean 2, when they could have shown 1&2 on the run up to Boxing Day making 3 a bit more of an event.

Still, like I said, the BBC was odd, but overall good, if still messy.  ITV, C5 and C4 were worse.  ITV and C5 just outright failed to have anything worth watching at all neither did Sky 1 or Virgin 1, the former showing the two Discworld minis on a loop (not a bad thing but not great for anyone not wanting to watch Hogfather twice in one day) and the latter just not changing its schedule at all.  In fact only C4 had anything, mainly the Big fat quiz of the year, along with all quizzes from yesteryears repeated.  C4 however was rather confusing as they had 2 films that could have been big over Xmas, The Simpsons movie and Slumdog Millionaire, however bizarrely they chose to show these after the Xmas period.

Overall other stations could learn a lot from the BBC on this one.


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