Creamguide

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BBC Radio 2Big Band, Big Man – The Billy Cotton Story
Tuesday, 22.00, BBC Radio 2

People on the internet often accuse Fearne Cotton of benefiting from nepotism as her great uncle was Bill Cotton, though we question exactly how much clout Bill Cotton had over Children’s ITV and Radio 1, twenty years after he retired from the Beeb anyway. In any case, we think is Fearne’s first ever appearance as a Radio 2 presenter as she finally talks about Bill’s dad and traces his career, with Roy Hudd contributing some reconstructions.

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BBC2TOTP2
Monday, 19.30, BBC2

Here’s a Christmas staple that’s lasted longer than Creamguide, and like us is clearly struggling to find ways to present the same material as every year in a slightly different guise. These days because it’s the only one they do – although given how frequently they repeat them, we don’t know why they don’t do some more – it’s also a repository for any other bits and bobs that may have turned up over the last twelve months, with “rare footage of Kate Bush” promised, though don’t get too excited.

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BBC1Celebrity Mastermind
Sunday, 18.30, BBC1

As ever we’re delighted and amazed when this comes back for another ten episodes, delighted because we think it’s a lot of fun and, at a time when we’re often watching it in larger groups, pleasingly easier than the proper show, and amazed that they’ve managed to yet again convince forty celebrities to do some revision, schlep up to Salford and potentially look stupid. As ever the episodes are shoved in whatever gap they can find over the next fortnight and beyond, and the run kicks off with Tony Marshall from Casualty quizzed about Richard Pryor while ‘stEnders’ Emma Barton discusses matters Carry On.

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BBC2Rik Mayall – Lord of Misrule
Saturday, 22.05, BBC2

This time last year we were paying tribute to Mel Smith and sadly this Christmas we’re remembering another comic icon whose shattering death at far too young an age was one of the saddest stories of the year. It’s not too much of an exaggeration to say that Rik was possibly the most influential comedy star of the past thirty years, absolutely at the vanguard of the alternative comedy movement and a massive inspiration to virtually all those that followed. Among those paying tribute are Alexei Sayle and Michael Palin but not Ade who doesn’t want to. And to make it an extra special tribute, the Young Ones repeat after is the full 35 minutes and not one of those dodgy half hour edits we’ve seen in recent years.

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BBC4The Joy of the Bee Gees
Friday, 21.00, BBC4

We don’t know if it’s Barry’s rather diffident personality that means the Gibbs still don’t get the respect their nearest contemporaries ABBA receive despite their clearly obvious talents and huge success over the years. Not that they were ever bothered with credibility, though, when they were coining it in and those irresistible pop tunes get lodged in your brain whether you like it or not. Professional contrarian John Lydon is among those paying tribute and then there’s a new compilation which as well as raiding the Beeb archives also promises some rare bits and pieces from all over the place.

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CBBCBlue Peter
Thursday, 17.30, CBBC

We’re delighted to report that the advent crown is back on Blue Peter, Radzi introducing it two weeks ago by pointing out it first appeared on the show fifty years ago and this year’s incarnation keeps the original design, although they’re now using battery- operated candles. It seems that after a wobbly few years Blue Peter is happy to embrace its traditions again and so the Christmas show, which this is, now has more or less all the familiar aspects presents and correct including the Christmas crib and the Salvation Army Band (Salford branch, mind, rather than Chalk Farm), and usually on a large scale whether that’s outside or in MediaCity reception. The only problem is the date but that’s Christmas on a Thursday for you. Wonder if it’ll be on Christmas Eve next year?

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BBC4Christmas with Val Doonican
Wednesday, 20.00, BBC4

Wow! We have absolutely no idea why BBC4 are showing this but we’re absolutely thrilled they are. Val’s Christmas Eve show actually started fairly late in his telly career, in 1983, but it then became a tradition for the next six years, continuing after his regular weekly show had ended, like the annual for a comic that had folded. Of course, the whole format was just a straight rip-off of what Perry Como was doing on American telly but Val did it so well and with so much charm it suited him down to the ground. This is the 1986 edition, possibly picked as among the delights are a singing Jan Leeming, but whichever one they chose we’d have looked forward to it, because we think Val is great. Stay tuned after for Michael Grade’s history of Saturday night telly too.

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Channel 4Black Mirror
Tuesday, 21.00, Channel 4

A great moment on Twitter the other day when Stephen King expressed his liking for this programme, with Charlie tweeting his thanks in return, presumably after spending hours jumping up and down with excitement and rewriting the tweet several hundred times to make sure he didn’t sound like an over-excited teenage girl. Certainly this is Charlie’s most acclaimed work by miles, continuing to be recognised by the great and good and managing to attract Jon Hamm to appear in this one-off special. Better yet, it’s a Hammer-style portmanteau story.

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BBC4Bullseyes and Beer – When Darts Hit Britain
Monday, 21.00, BBC4

A few years back BBC4 made a fantastic documentary about British wrestling and we’re hopeful that this programme will be equally as entertaining. Darts is still pretty big business now, Sky Sports devoting one of their channels to it in its entirety over the festive season, while the final of the World Championships still gets one of BBC2’s biggest audiences of the year. But before the implosion that means there’s now two World Championships running almost simultaneously, darts’ heyday was in the early eighties when the likes of Bristow, Wilson, Dellar and Lazarenko were household names, which is the era we’re concentrating on here. And after that it’s a fascinating sounding documentary from 1979 about Eric Bristow, which we’ve been unable to find on Genome so we think may never have been on TV before.

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BBC1Sports Personality of the Year
Sunday, 20.00, BBC1

At six on BBC2 there’s another outing for last year’s documentary to mark the sixtieth anniversary of this show, presumably with Daley Thompson’s acceptance speech now bleeped out. Here’s the 61st, and while it’s all a bit too big and slick these days, rather than the intimate soiree from the QEII Conference Centre we used to know, it still serves as another important marker on the run-up to Christmas, not least when it was usually on the cover of the Radio Times the week before the double issue because there was nothing else interesting on that week.

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BBC2Perry and Croft – Made In Britain
Saturday, 20.00, BBC2

Last part of this documentary series which this week looks at change, something the pair certainly reflected in their series which often seemed to be based around the fag end of eras and with an uncertain future looming, whether that’s the concert party being demobbed or Peggy finally becoming a Yellowcoat in a deserted Maplins. Regardless of your views of their shows, you have to say Perry and Croft could do a bloody good final episode.

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BBC2The Home That Two Built
Friday, 19.00, BBC2

We never thought we’d see a reference to Graham Wynne in Doctor Who Magazine, but we’d not counted on the fantastic metaphorical skills of its reviewer. Any show reflecting on lifestyle in the nineties is obviously going to be dominated by Changing Rooms, a series that was such a talking point at the time it even appeared on primetime Christmas Day BBC1. Mrs Brown not looking so bad now, eh?

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BBC4Top of the Pops
Thursday, 19.30, 01.00, BBC4

The last regular show we’ll see this year, with the Christmas show coming up at some point in the next fortnight and then, we’re thrilled to report, the start of another year. A pretty good show too, especially as it was never on UK Gold so its exact contents remain a mystery, although judging by the EPG it looks like they may have removed the Barron Knights performance, as seen on It Was Alright In The Seventies the other week, for obvious reasons.

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BBC4Spike Milligan – Love, Light and Peace
Wednesday, 21.00, BBC4

There’s been lots of programmes about Spike Milligan and his comic genius over the years but this new documentary sounds particularly good because it’s spending just as much time focusing on his life with his family and friends. We were first introduced to Spike via his children’s poetry, which we used to love, and his kids were clearly a real inspiration and often salvation when he battled with depression, as we’ll see here. But there’s plenty of corpsing and messing around on telly as well, and after it is a new compilation of one of the silliest programmes ever made, with another tomorrow.

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BBC2Brian Pern – A Life In Rock
Tuesday, 22.00, BBC2

A quick second series of Simon Day and Rhys Thomas’ mock-rock-doc, now promoted to BBC2. The last series was highly entertaining, not just for the quality of the humour (“Why no black folk in Jersey? Are they having a lark?”) but also the huge number of real musicians and other personalities they managed to get to send themselves up, something which looks set to continue with this first episode’s cast including Tim Rice, Tony Blackburn and Billy Bragg.

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ITVThe Royal Variety Performance
Monday, 19.30, ITV

There’s no reason why this show has to be on a Monday given it was recorded days ago, though obviously they do it so they can show an hour long Corrie the night before to dent Strictly. This is another of those telly markers on the road up to Christmas alongside Sports Personality of the Year although it ceased to be anything really special many years ago and now is often just a succession of stars with albums to plug, in this case Bette Midler who we’ll be seeing again in this slot next week, and not even a veteran comedian to keep us happy. There’s McBusted, we suppose.

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6musicMary Anne Hobbs
Sunday, 07.00, BBC Radio 6 Music

Last week Mary Anne Hobgoblin was helming the tribute to Chris Morris on Radio 4 Extra, and this week she goes one further by bringing us some new Morris material with a new Blue Jam-esque sketch he’s written and directed specially. It seems pretty incongruous breakfast listening, but in many ways that seems the perfect slot to surprise and baffle listeners which we’re sure Morris really loves doing.

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BBC2Tomorrow’s Worlds – The Unearthly History of Science Fiction
Saturday, 22.00, BBC2

This week’s instalment is rather nicely topical as Stephen Hawking’s been in the news discussing the future of Artificial Intelligence, because it’s about robots, going all the way back to Frankenstein’s Monster before proceeding through a host of other crushing, killing and destroying machines.

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BBC4The Story of Funk – One Nation Under A Groove
Friday, 21.00, BBC4

For a change we won’t take this opportunity to link to that clip of Pan’s People dancing around Selfridges to Sly Stone as we only featured it the other week. There can be few musical genres that are as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the ears, though the florid costumes and generally upbeat vibe often disguises the fact a lot of it also had a hard political edge as well. We’ll hear about that in the new documentary, followed by a compilation of some of the most exciting and infectious music of all.

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BBC4Top of the Pops
Thursday, 19.30, 00.30, BBC4

That strike-bound episode was absolutely fascinating, right from the monochrome chart rundown which appeared to be produced using equipment last used in the fifties. This week we’re back in the studio and there’s good news and bad news. The bad news is it’s the debut of Simon Bates and, unlike Andy Peebles, he does alright and that means we now have to endure his smug chat on a regular basis for the next nine years. The good news is that it’s the most eclectic episode of the year, and given they’ve been unable to mount a proper show for a fortnight you’d assume there’d be loads of acts in the charts queuing up to appear, but in fact virtually everything here is outside the Top 40. Doesn’t mean it’s not well worth seeing though, from The Three Degrees to Motorhead, as well as the other M song and Darts with a new single five minutes after the last one.

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