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The six best Christmas TV Times covers

Granted, Radio Times has a history – a now fading history – of terrific Christmas covers, but what of its downstairs rival? We submit that thanks to its more capricious art-editing, and ITV’s lacklustre seasonal schedules, TV Times’ own festive frontispieces present a rather more lurid and appealing advent calendar than the RT.

So Merry Christmas one and all, as we celebrate TVT’s half-dozen greatest Yuletide covers!

6: 1987

1987

A Dr Lowther-bound Hilda Ogden, plus an ebullient Bet ‘Listen Lady’ Lynch, are perfect cover fodder, for once making TVT’s ITV allegiance feel like something approaching a boon. Yes! Their own cover shoot! Of TV’s biggest story! And doesn’t everyone look happy? NB: Don’t miss Ghost Busters!

5: 1977

1977

Harry didn’t have to go to Paris to get an eyeful! Although he’d go on to helm one of the worst ever TVT covers, here he is in another quintessential ITV diorama, shipping, indeed, with George, Mildred and Violet Elizabeth Bott. As the coverline makes clear: glittering entertainment.

4: 1975

1975

The Christmas hats aside, one could argue that this has a more Easter-ly vibe. But we care not! It also feels indicative of those mash-up-of-characters covers Fleetway comics would do when two of their titles merged, so it’s an aye to that. Sooty pumping the balloon an additional genius detail.

3: 1969

1969

An art department triumph! There’s nothing here to indicate TVT even so much as met Des for this cover image, but the appropriation of his mugshot into a Santa face is masterfully done. And the concept of O’Connor-themed wrapping paper – YES. Also, very much appreciate the little telly themed Father Christmasses. Look! One of them is actually a tiny oven with a turkey inside.

2: 1985

1986

Although Minder On The Orient Express would be duffed up in the ratings by Only Fools, who cares when it provided inspiration for this terrific winterscape? Tel and Arthur (holly sprig in trilby band) getting into some bother in Santa’s sled while a discomfited owl looks on. What’ll I get for Christmas for ‘er indoors? This! A smashing painting!

1: 1980

1980

A lavishly budgeted restaging of the 1978 cover, this one has got the lot! Yes! ITV has a Bond, The Man With The Golden Gun actually, plus M&W arguably returning to the near-peak of their powers and – of course – Janet Brown as Mrs T. Roger: “I’ve pulled a few powerful ladies in my time before, but never pushed them…” Janet: “I push Denis around all the time!” Plus, a hint of appropriate shilling to the network, with the inclusion of that for-one-season-only ITV Christmas tag alongside the logo. ALL CHRISTMASSES SHOULD LOOK LIKE THIS!

NOW SEE THE SIX WORST TV TIMES CHRISTMAS COVERS

11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. David Smith

    December 11, 2014 at 2:04 pm

    How many of these had that curious “second cover” inside, for week 2? The TVT double issue certainly did that for a while in the ’70s, as if they expected you to detach the magazine into two halves (which would invariably have resulted in it falling apart…)

  2. Rawmackaw

    December 11, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    I like the 1982 cover with a host of copy and paste stars standing in a doorway.

  3. Glenn A

    December 12, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    The 1980 cover is excellent, a really clever way of getting people to switch over from BBC 1 on Christmas Day, and for once ITV did run BBC1 close that year.

  4. Alan B

    December 19, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    The Minder one is very reminiscent of Computer And Video Games covers of the same era.

  5. borgduck

    December 22, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    Are you sure these aren’t the six worst TV Times covers?

  6. Des E

    December 23, 2014 at 1:04 pm

    Not a TV Times fan, then, Borgduck?

    Though the magazine ceased to be really relevant following deregulation in ’91, I nonetheless quite like the 2000 cover featuring a polar bear. I like it more than RT’s Harry Potter cover from that year, anyway.

  7. George White

    December 9, 2015 at 8:49 pm

    My theory is the 1980 cover is actually a photographic evidence of the prequel to For Your Eyes Only, where Thatcher is on holiday in Switzerland in the remains of Blofeld’s Piz Gloria, being entertained by Eric and Ernie, when ex-SPECTRE personnel storm the building, claiming that Mrs. T is squatting in their property. Bond is then sent, after arriving on Earth and escapes with Thatcher, Morecambe and Wise, but Denis is left behind, rescued by SPECTRE agents and develops Stockholm Syndrome, cured via a glass of sherry.

  8. Glenn A

    December 12, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    Anyone notice how the rampant inflation of the seventies and early eighties is affecting the price of the TV Times. The 1975 edition is selling for 20 pence, by 1985 the price has more than trebled to 64 pence. Also back then you had to buy the TV Times and Radio Times seperately, so planning your Christmas viewing was becoming increasingly expensive.

  9. Teenwold

    December 13, 2015 at 12:56 am

    Come on, that 1969 cover is dreadful.

  10. David Smith

    December 13, 2015 at 8:42 am

    1987: Since when was Ghostbusters two words? Tragically I think I remember thinking that at the time…

  11. Glenn A

    December 19, 2015 at 1:32 pm

    I wonder how many diehard Labour voters refused to buy the 1980 TVT, thinking that it was the real Margaret Thatcher on the cover, or conspiracy theorists thinking ITV’s Conservative bias was justified by this cover.

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