1977: It’s gone down in folklore that Eric Morecambe’s appearance on World Of Sport was dreamt up by him and Dickie Davies in the pub the previous night. As recently at 2013 Dickie talked on 5 Live about how Eric was only due to pop in on the post-show Christmas party but turned up during the opening link instead and Dickie himself had to make emergency provisions for Morecambe to sit in on the set assuming he wouldn’t be joining in. If that’s the case TV Times had incredible foresight because they featured Eric’s appearance prominently in its preview, listing him as co-host with quotes about his sporting background alongside.
1978: The network was finally allowed to drift back apart as Bruce’s Big Night came to an end with a Christmas special starring Karen Carpenter alone, as Richard was “ill” (about into go to rehab for addiction to quaaludes) There were songs as well – Please Mr Postman, I Need To Be In Love, Merry Christmas Darling – but without Richard it’s doubtful the frantic banter exchange with Karen and the band, seemingly gloriously undimmed by weeks of bad press and worse ratings, would have been quite the same.
1981: After becoming upset with the scheduling of his show against Top Of The Pops Kenny Everett jumped into the welcoming bosom of Auntie Beeb, debuting the Television Show with a special featuring the debuts of Cleo Rocos and Cupid Stunt, Ken finding the
Broadcasting Under Manager BUM, lots of Billy Connolly, a walking gag with Bob Geldof and David Frost interrupting a sketch to claim plagirism (with evidence), all leaving Lord Thames thoroughly in the lurch.
1982: A pirate ship-themed Radio Times advert with a carousel of festive star montages is a flying start to the best of the day on BBC1, followed by – yes! – Pages From Ceefax At Christmas! With jokes, and an advent calendar, and blocky candle flames! Festive greetings from abroad too, however that worked translated into Level 2, though the Europeans definitely had the edge in graphic design. Also, whoever put it together can’t spell Cincinnati. No Christmas ident at start-up, though the preview stills have stylised snowflakes abounding, but it’s in place by 1pm.
1987: There’s nothing so comfortingly repetitive as the format of the last Blue Peter before Christmas, as Caron, Yvette and Mark prove – final candle on the advent crown, cards from viewers, presents for the pets, big leap on the appeal totaliser, “last minute present” make, crib, hundreds of kids in choirs, Chalk Farm Salvation Army band, big silver version of the ship at the end. To prove that it wasn’t just the Richard Marson era where self-indulgence was allowed its head though, there’s a Hollywood song and dance routine worked in too.