It’s the Christmas Creamguide and it’s the twentieth time we’ve done it! Maybe one day we’ll get good at it, but at least we haven’t put a holiday supplement in the middle of Christmas Day. As in previous years, it’s so big it arrives over two days, with TV, radio and a full film guide. Hope you enjoy it!
SATURDAY 21st DECEMBER
18.05 Celebrity Mastermind
18.35 Pointless Celebrities
Here’s a very special Christmas present – Schedule A and Schedule B! That’s because tonight’s line-up is dependent on Liverpool reaching the final of the Club World Cup, which will replace these if they do – and they almost certainly will, in which case the former will shuffle somewhere in the rest of the run and continue the grand tradition of this series being dropped on at least one occasion and continuing well into mid-January, and the latter presumably going in place of the conveniently scheduled repeat next Saturday. If Liverpool do balls it up, though, we’ll get a Champion of Champions special with Tim Vine on Jaws and Samira Ahmed on Space 1999, and it’s a panto-themed affair with Gary Wilmot, Biggins and Sooty.
19.45 Dad’s Army
We’re pretty sure we’ve billed these in all twenty of the Christmas Creamguides, and here they dutifully are again, both from 1976 if you’re taking notes on which year was the best Christmas once and for all. Meanwhile over on BBC4 it’s a Judi Dench evening including at quarter past eight the clip show that saw off As Time Goes By, like Keeping Up Appearances met with a bit of a shrug of the shoulders in Britain but amazingly popular in the States.
10.45 The African Queen
Time was called on one of our favourite filmic myths this year. According to legend, the green parakeets that delightfully inhabit East London these days (and we can vouch for that, having seen flocks of the exotic little sods dive bombing the scarlet trilby-sporting prannies of Shoreditch throughout the autumn months) were let loose from the wrap party for this immortal Bogie-Heppy indoor jungle adventure at the start of the fifties. It was such a neat little story it couldn’t possibly be true, but then none of the other explanations were very likely, either. (“They’re all descended from one of Jimi Hendrix’s pets” being the most outlandish, and “they got loose when the 1987 Great Storm of 1987 happened shortly after 1987 and while we’re on the subject let me tell you what I think of that Michael Fish character” being the dreariest.) But now we hear they’ve been around since the 1860s, so maybe they were let loose at the wrap party for Alice in Wonderland, or Great Expectations, or the patent velocipede. All we know is they’re here, they’re green, and they’ll defecate on anyone riding a Segway, so we hope they gain protected species status soon, for services to humanity. The film? Oh, it’s not bad, you know. Lensed, as nobody with any self respect says, by the mighty Jack Cardiff, who was portrayed by Robert Lindsay in Terry Johnson’s nifty play Prism a couple of years back. You know you’re in for a grand night at the theatre when the first scene uses a slowly opening garage door to demonstrate the gamut of film aspect ratios, from Cinerama (stuck a third of the way up) to Academy (fully open). Also featuring Robert Morley, Peter Bull and Richard “ze colo-nell” Marner. (The African Queen that is, not Prism. It wasn’t *that* grand a night.)
Well, we’ll no doubt encounter pretty much every incarnation of Charles Dickens’s very own “all right, you lot… take it!” moment over the next few days – although you don’t tend to see Richard Williams’s hauntingly melancholy animated version so much these days for some reason – so let’s start with good old Alistair Sim making that gravy/grave pun sing like nobody else can.
BBC Radio 2
13.00 Pick of the Pops
If you had to pick the years with the least festive Christmas number ones, you might go for 1979 and 1986, so inevitably those are the years Gambo’s playing this week, and indeed apart from Macca in the first half there are no other Christmas songs in the entire chart – although that probably makes for a nice break from the rest of this station’s output at the moment. At least in 1986 we’ll still be on the pre-Christmas chart and hence the record Simes carefully denoted as the latest number one in the run-up to Christmas on Pops.
BBC Radio 4
20.00 Divided Nation
Here’s a suitably cheery thought for Christmas weekend – just how divided is Britain these days? We tend to think it’s worse now than it’s ever been with so much separating people politically and socially and nothing to bring us together, although there were much the same arguments back in the eighties, and indeed looking further back for many years many people weren’t even permitted to vote. Here’s Timandra Harkness to ponder whether we’ve ever had it so bad.
SUNDAY 22nd DECEMBER
06.05 Freaky Friday
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without endless wearisome debates over which films count as “Christmas films”, would it? Well, yes it would, and indeed it was up until about four years ago, when debates about “Christmas films”, and even the very concept of a “Christmas film”, were things no sane person gave two hoots about. Still, that was then, this is now. Why make the past your sacred cow? But if we must, we’d put this Jodie Foster incarnation of the much-told generational body swap fable (look out for “Hey, Boomer, That’s Me!” on Netflix in June, kids) in the festive film pile, if only because we have vivid memories of an abortive end-of-term Super 8 presentation at primary school which included “highlights” of this and the Herbie franchise, but quickly devolved into burnouts, rewinds and increasingly desperate snipping of the film by the master on duty. We managed to grab a rogue foot of celluloid in the confusion and coveted it for ages, those magical frames of frozen time instilling within us a deep love of the wonder of cinema, which we spent the rest of our lives doing absolutely nothing about. Help yourself to another piece of apple crumble.
20.00 Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em
20.30 The Good Life
The other Christmas Porridge is on BBC2 at quarter past five, whereas before The Ooh Aah Bird (from 1977, if you want to add that to the list) it’s back to Christmas week 1973 and one that’s technically just a normal episode as part of the series that was currently running, but it’s a notable one as it’s the birth of Jessica. We’ve mentioned this before but someone we follow on Twitter said they once thought it was the oldest TV show ever made, because they seemingly hadn’t invented proper opening titles yet.
21.00 TV’s Greatest Gameshows
Been a while since we’ve featured this channel in Creamguide, mostly because it’s usually just back-to-back episodes of The Chase, but here’s what appears to be new, and indeed is also being shown on Sky One on Friday, although it sounds a bit similar to previous programmes on the same theme. In any case it’s an hour of easy, uncritical nostalgia, and it’s introduced by Roy Walker, who seems to be back on our screens with a vengeance as there’s also a documentary on him on BBC Northern Ireland tomorrow on the occasion of his eightieth birthday.
Talking Pictures TV
19.20 Make Mine a Million
Big-hearted Arthur Askey leads a proto-Carry On ensemble cast in a commercial TV caper that fuses the last act of Carry On Cabby with the Thames Studios scene from the Man About the House movie, by way of a plot that predicts both the Ashtar Galactic Command/Max Headroom pirate broadcast incidents and the invention of washing powder tablets. Features Sid James being dodgy, Kenneth Connor being flustered, Bernard Cribbins being reliable, and Tommy Trinder being, well, Tommy Trinder.
BBC Radio 4
22.00 Meeting Myself Coming Back
It’ll be on New Year’s Eve we probably most think about the loss of Clive James, and indeed we know there’s tributes appearing in the TV schedules in the first week of January, but the Home Service, his most regular broadcasting home in recent years, has some suitable shows throughout the festive season. We’ve taken some comfort from the fact that Clive at least had the opportunity to hear the tributes to him and put his affairs in order, and in this repeat from 2012 he gives his views on some clips of himself from the archives,
MONDAY 23rd DECEMBER
21.00 Classic Christmas Comedy Moments
As ever with this channel, we would tread carefully around anything on this channel marked as new, although this kind of show has been on pretty much every channel in various different guides for many years. This one promises clips from Mrs Brown’s Boys too, but there might be enough to entertain, what with Stephen Mangan doing the links and Barry Cryer providing the punditry.
22.30 Steptoe and Son Ride Again
“Backrents must go!” “Johnny Jay the Odeon Groper!” “Knicker swill Phil!” Even the background graffiti rings true in this perennially underrated sitcom feature. The Diana Dors scene alone would be feted as a darkly comic masterpiece if, say, David Lynch had come up with it. And that goes double for the bit where they’re trying to get a greyhound in glasses to react to a stuffed tiger’s head popping up from behind a sofa. (Incidentally, the corpse in the Dors scene was played by the guy who worked as Harrison Ford’s body double throughout the eighties. We merely present this fact, without comment.)
20.00 What We Were Watching: Christmas 1979
You’ll recall this programme from last year or, indeed, last week when it was repeated and we billed it again. It’s back for a second go, though still with Grace Dent presenting and, as we said last year, it probably helps if you really, really like Grace Dent. But last year it came up with some interesting clips and we think this is a pretty fascinating year to go at, just past the familiar seventies fare involving Brucie and Eric and Ern that we’ve seen a lot and instead with shows like Butterflies and indeed the Larry Gen Game. And it’s got to be worth checking out as it appears that, forty years after its one and only appearance on the All-Star Record Breakers, Miss Children’s Programmes has finally been released from whatever vault it was safely held under lock and key in.
10.00 The Princess Bride
It was goodbye to William Goldman this year, the man at the Olivetti behind both this joyous metafantasy and one of the few books about film really worth reading, Adventures in the Screen Trade. If you’ve somehow never had the pleasure, we do recommend getting hold of it, as an amazing amount of it is still relevant today, especially the bit where he lays down a five-point definition of comic-book movies, and then goes on to demonstrate that Bambi isn’t a comic-book movie, while The Deer Hunter is. Ya hearin’ this, Marty? How ya like them apples, Coppola? Have your apocalypse now, etc.
02.40 Tales that Witness Madness
There’s nothing better or more seasonally apt than a decent seventies horror portmanteau during the small hours of Christmas Day. Sadly, the best we can offer you here is a rubbish seventies horror portmanteau during the small hours of Christmas Eve. This one positively reeks of Amicus, but it comes from the stable of World Film Services, one of those outfits whose vaguely grand title belies the reality of its box-room head office in Streatham. (See also comic annual publishers of yore, World Distributors.) WFS’s varied wares include Liz Taylor’s frock-tastic freak out Boom!, cursed Milligan-Sellers comedy Ghost in the Noonday Sun, and sun-bleached video rental shop front door poster staple DARYL. The linking story is as basic as you like: Jack Hawkins (wearing Charles Gray’s voice) inspects Donald Pleasance’s white walled psychiatric hospital, checking out four lost cases among its inmates. First up, Sweet Georgia Brown worries about her son’s imaginary tiger friend, then gets mauled to death by a lethal combination of tightly-framed stock footage and a badly puppeteered novelty rug. The second has a genuinely intriguing premise – antique dealer finds penny farthing which travels back to the olden days to reveal a historical murder – which it then gives up on and just makes everything go on fire. Then comes the most famous segment, wherein Michael Jayston and Joan Collins find their idyllic marriage in a swanky split-level modernist house torn apart by a jealous bitch of a tree stump – as slight a tale as can be, but the soft furnishings are grand and we get to see Joan doing the hoovering. Finally comes The One With the Budget, as literary agent Kim Novak covets her star client Hawaiian Martin Amis, who in turn has the hots for her daughter Mary Tamm, with a racially insensitive Titus Andronicus punchline. Rita Hayworth was meant to star in this bit, but she gave good arse-out-the-door, astutely buggering off shortly before filming started. It all looks lovely enough, but the acting is seven shades of diabolical, be it Donald Huston’s permanent shout, Peter McEnery’s breathily beseeching tones, or Joan’s oddly childish petulance. Cinematographer Freddie Francis directs, which you might think explains the discrepancy, though he did just fine at the helm of the previous year’s Tales from the Crypt, so who knows? Anyway, Georgia puts in a good turn, and the opening titles play like a sort of medical Bond film, pairing a rousing orchestral thumpalong with artfully rostrumed x-rays of a skull. Truly, a film that has something for several people.
12.00 Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon
13.30 Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror
15.00 Sherlock Holmes Faces Death
16.35 Sherlock Holmes in Washington
18.10 Sherlock Holmes and the Pearl of Death
19.40 Sherlock Holmes and the House of Fear
We’re ticking off the festive film staples at a rate of knots here, and right on cue comes a slew of Rathbone-Bruce Holmes pictures which are a de facto fixture of the Christmas schedules, as we’ve been arguing in these pages for the past – oh God, FIFTEEN YEARS? We’ll have to sit down after that, and what better to recuperate in front of than nine solid hours of purist-irking sleuthery? From the top: Bombsight smuggling intrigue with rather too much emphasis on Sherlock’s “uncanny” disguises, a reprise of the Dancing Men code from the Doyle originals, a car-stalking technique straight out of the stonecutters episode of The Simpsons, secret panels a-go-go, and Holmes and Moriarty swapping torture methods like a gentlemanly version of a Wu-Tang skit. (7/10) Then we jump back to the first of the present day WWII propaganda adventures, as a Lord Haw-Haw-esque radio broadcast is thwarted by some Experiment!-style pencil-and-paper audio analysis with a lovely old wooden oscilloscope, a bit of self-referential business with a deer stalker, some not-bad-for-the-budget matte paintings of a bombed-out church, and a simply adorable Hornby train accident. (6/10) Then a nifty reimagining of The Musgrave Ritual with lashings of secret passageways, a Drogna Game face-off on a tiled floor, a top notch eccentric butler and a closing speech from Holmes that pretty much amounts to “Go Socialism! Woo!” (9/10) Rathbone and Bruce go America, the writers try and think up a story entirely on their own, everyone looks bored. (4/10) A square go at the old Six Napoleons chestnut, with elaborate alarm systems and a villain – the Hoxton Creeper – who got his own spin-off film series. (8/10) And finally an update of The Five Orange Pips, where some richly atmospheric country house sets compete for screen time with some of the shoddiest back projection in the history of cinema. (7/10)
This is titled “a rare showing” in its Radio Times boxout, which is odd, as we’re struggling to think of a “cult classic” that’s been screened more often than this. Now, a showing of the Mad Cyril spin-off sitcom pilot, *that* would be rare. “We’ve been courteous!”
BBC Radio 2
21.00 The Green Room
If you’ve thought Radio 2 have been playing too many new records recently, here’s some good news. Leo Green, the Light’s current specialist in pre-Beatles pop, is here over the next four nights with his band to perform songs released in and associated with a particular year – and he starts, pop pickers, in 1949! Would seem to be a long time since forties pop has taken centre stage on this station although, rather fortunately for them, it was also the year Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel were born, so we’ll be hearing their stuff as well. Over the next three nights it’s 1983, 1994 and 1972, oddly in that order, which may be a bit less all over the place musically.
11.40 Murder on the Orient Express
13.45 Death on the Nile
The return of the Festive Twostinov! One of these always used to sit across the Christmas Day early evening chasm like one of those draught excluders made up with bits of fuzzy felt to look like a snake. In Ustinovian terms, we’d much prefer Topkapi, but there you go. (No doubt the Beeb would feel duty bound to cut a big random chunk out of the opening credits and stick a hastily pasted-up title card over it reading “Bosskapi”, but we’d be willing to take the hit.)
18.20 The Morecambe and Wise Show – The Lost Tapes
There’s no imperial phase Eric and Ern show on this channel this Christmas, but here they are now, Morecambe and Wise, on a couple of nights. Their first appearance comes via these two episodes fished out of a skip last year for their first outing in half a century. Given it’s not quite imperial phase Eric and Ern, as Eddie Braben hadn’t arrived yet, and the second episode especially has a surfeit of Irish jokes, we’re not sure if they’re exactly worth seeing more than once as a novelty, but here we are anyway.
14.40 Santa Claus: the Movie
Speaking of FIFTEEN YEARS ago (sorry, we’re still reeling slightly at that), back then we were still in the throes of ’80s nostalgia, albeit the very fag-end of it. What had started in the mid-’90s if you please (hey kids, remember DexDexTer?) and reached a peak (or possibly trough) with the ill-starred clipshows of the early 2000s looked like it was finally subsiding, with nobody wanting to look at a Rubik’s Snake or mag wheel ever again. But… well, as you know, it didn’t stop. Somehow it went on and on, juggling the same handful of obvious cultural props in an endless tail-chasing quest to squeeze out just one more hour of airtime or cheap line of “merch”. It wasn’t our eighties anymore; they’d sold our past to the company store. And then, about five years ago, America finally got in on the game, and swiftly redecorated the place. Where once the most ’80s thing you could do was type “Grobbelaar” into a ZX Spectrum while listening to Seven and the Ragged Tiger in the middle of a miners’ picket line, now it was to, er… ride a bike around a spooky midwestern town while Jon Von Halen played his widdly guitar. We’re sorry, but the eighties of our hallowed memory looked a lot less like Stranger Things and a lot more like Chernobyl. With maybe slightly less vomiting. Perhaps, having run out of areas of the globe to culturally colonise, the USA is now annexing the past, decade by decade, like a scene in a Douglas Adams novel that’s advertised in the pre-publicity but doesn’t appear in the actual book because he realised at the last minute it was a bit too on-the-nose and scrapped it. So if pictures of Noddy Holder start turning into Alice Cooper before your very eyes, there’s a hotline number you can call. Details at the end of the Creamguide.
00.45 Casino Royale
The proper one, of course, with nary a whiff of Craig David in his blue pants. Not that we object to Big Old Grown-up Serious Bond on principle. It’s more that the nature of the franchise tends to derail all attempts at realism after a while. Goldeneye was supposed to usher in a more grounded Bond for the nineties, and that era swiftly degenerated into invisible cars and tidal wave surfing. Likewise, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service got Simon Raven in to smarten up the dialogue and went for the dark ending, and what happened next? Diamonds Are Forever. No matter how much you Graham Greene him up, Bond will just wait until your back’s turned and sneak out to see Leonard Part 6. Hence, we submit, this Casino Royale is more essentially Bondy than that Casino Royale. Could this sort of thing, this plotless agglomeration of big names, bigger sets and yet bigger continuity errors, happen today? With the insane amounts of cash being lobbed about up the top end of the Hollywood food chain, we don’t see why not. A £250 million, all A-list, all-CGI caper comedy made today would, we think, be a much more entertaining flop than yet another drearily colour-graded superhero debacle for Alan Moore to remove his name from. OK, they’d probably get Paul Feig in to direct it, but even so, as we enter the first decade in twenty years that can be given a non-embarrassing nickname that ends in “-ties”, let’s make our popular culture something we can hand on to the next generation without a note attached saying the clutch is dodgy so be careful taking it out of fourth in fast traffic. And to take us there, let’s have a Bond that’s not so much Quantum of Solace as Quantick and Bussman, a not-so-earnest Blofeld who plays it Felix lighter, less GoldenEye and more GoldenBalls (hosted by Jasper Carrott). We don’t care who plays 007: Olivia Colman, Stormzy, Paul Chuckle – the lead role is essentially ballast. Spending the GDP of your average Pacific archipelago on two and a half hours of frowning in exotic locations is an inherently silly endeavour anyway – let’s get that silliness up on the screen and really run amok! Or, if you’re too tired, we can walk amok.
15.15 Father Christmas
15.50 The Snowman
Used to be that both of these would get a single outing and that would be it for another year, but this is already about the third showing in December and they’re on again tomorrow. But in an era when a lot of the festive staples from the past are no longer with us, like Disney Time or the Circus World Championships, we have to take our traditions where we can find them.
11.35 Top of the Pops
Back again, like the annual for a long-folded comic, but in its earliest slot ever, which in the past would have been Noel o’clock, but it’s not like there’s much in the way of competition so it shouldn’t make much difference to the audience. We don’t know what today’s pop kids make of Fearne Cotton still doing this, for the sixteenth consecutive year, given she is now very much a Radio 2 DJ, but it emphasises this is fun for the whole family, even those, like us, who only recognise the songs because they’ve been danced to on Strictly.
15.00 The Queen
Cue the love to see her explain her way out of this one gags, though presumably tomorrow’s papers will cobble together the ratings from all the showings on all channels to suggest a mammoth audience tuned in for Andrew chat. It should certainly outrate much else on ITV, given the afternoon schedule includes Tipping Point and The Chase, plus The Chase Bloopers, as if it’s just a normal Wednesday.
23.15 The Two Ronnies Christmas Sketchbook
The BBC1 schedule today looks pretty great, so packed there isn’t even room for a news bulletin between half twelve and half eleven. But we’re a bit baffled by this, not just because it’s now fourteen years old and has been repeated a trillion times, but because it’s been cut down to twenty minutes, which begs the question why they’re bothering with it at all. Surely it would be less of a faff to make a new one, and we’d welcome that because we wouldn’t have to see Ronnie B look so ill. More interesting Ronnage in a bit.
It’s Albert Finney’s turn to don nightcap and gown – and possibly some of those old-timery long johns with a button down arseflap – with Edith Evans, Kenneth More and Alec Guinness as the ghosts, and Roy Kinnear, Geoffrey Bayldon, Anton Rodgers, Gordon Jackson and Marianne Stone there or thereabouts. Oh, and it’s a musical. In space.
18.20 Dad’s Army
19.00 Morecambe and Wise: A Perfect Christmas
These days on the Beeb, and indeed in Creamguide, the mantra is fewer, bigger, better (well, maybe not the latter in Creamguide) and so BBC2 is pretty much a stack of repeats over the holidays for most of the day with all the new content concentrated in primetime. Not a problem when the repeats are like this, of course. The Eric and Ern clip show has only had that subtitle affixed to it in recent years, mind, as it’s actually from BBC2’s Perfect Christmas day back in 1991, and we’re duty bound to point out it’s now way older than any of the clips were when they made it. What we’d give for a day like that now, mind, much like TV Hell a few months later a rare chance to see archivery in its original context.
20.30 Dolly Parton: Here I Am
And here is that new content, a celebration of Dolly’s fifty years in showbusiness, spending just as much time discussing her business acumen and songwriting prowess as the famous image. Looks like there’s going to be quite a bit about her film career as well, with Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda among the contributors, and it’s all followed by her Glasto performance from the other year.
21.30 The Two Ronnies: The Unseen Sketches
Some contrast to the Rons over on BBC1 tonight, this should be an intriguing affair. It’s based on the series Barker and Corbett made for the Nine Network in Australia in 1986. We’ve seen the odd clip of it – most notably the pair doing the goodnights from him standing up, which seems a bit strange – but for the first time on TV we’re getting many of the sketches in full. That said, the title’s slightly overselling it because not only has the series been available on DVD for a while, but most of the sketches are remakes of the Beeb ones.
00.35 The Curse of Frankenstein
As you bumble along in life, there comes a point where you weigh up the time you have left, and start wistfully thinking about chunks of your irretrievable past that might, with hindsight, have been more profitably spent. (FIFTEEN YEARS??) We haven’t too many misgivings in that department, although we did pay good money to sit in a cinema and watch both Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula *and* Kenneth Branagh’s Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Seriously. Not to mention Eddie Murphy’s Eddie Murphy’s Boomerang, but that’s for another time. Let’s move away from such horrific thoughts and onto these two early doors Hammer horror classics, shown here in reverse chronological order. (Oh, and Night of the Demon happened in between them. They didn’t muck about in those days.) It’s Lee and Cushing in the first, followed by Cushing and Lee, with Michael Gough, Miles Malleson, Geoffrey Bayldon and, as a youthful Peter Cushing… er, Melvyn Hayes. (Sadly, he doesn’t get the Creature to do a “Putting on the Ritz”-style musical number to the tune of the It Ain’t Half Hot Mum theme.)
Talking Pictures TV
19.00 The Amazing Mr Blunden
As every schoolchild knows, Lionel Jeffries directed four films: the famous one (Railway Children), the bonkers one (Wombling Free), the shite one (Water Babies) and the good one (Mr Blunden). But this is a gross simplification of historical truth, as with all cinema-related nursery rhymes. (See also The Grand Old Michael York; Barbra Streisand, Have You Any Oscar Nominations?; As I Was Going to St Ives I Cast Nanette Newman in The Stepford Wives.) We refer, of course, to Baxter!, the oddly touching rich kid divorce weepie that always gets forgotten about as it doesn’t involve anyone dressing up in funny old clothes. This can’t be a Jeffries, the punters cry, it opens on a ruddy Jumbo Jet! A-and there’s actual physical abuse of children! Not picturesque Victorian child abuse, that’s fine of course, but children in Adidas tracksuits! It’s all a bit “Tell her to work at Tesco’s/Tell her to stay at school” for some tastes. We know certain people have fond mental pictures of Jeffries directing his films in his Chitty pith helmet and knickerbockers, and for all we know he may have done just that, but please. Watch this film by all means, because it’s ruddy lovely, but the next time you see a listing for Baxter! (that exclamation mark does grate, we admit) maybe have a gander at that, too. And don’t forget Stephen Fry’s sworn testimony to Lionel’s liberal use of the c-word on the set of Woof! Lionel Jeffries: so much more than a mutton chop.
07.00 The Producers
08.55 The Pink Panther Strikes Again
Possibly our favourite thing about Christmas is the way it puts a kind of joyful significance into what, the rest of the year, are mundane domestic chores at best. Preparing the dinner, putting the decks up, being a Liquorsaver, even making sure there’s a black plastic bag handy to put the wrapping paper in, all take on an aura of ritualistic mystery, as if they were plot points in Alan Bleasdale’s Box of Delights. If you’ve read this far, you’ll no doubt have made preparations for the big day using our reasonably priced TV Cream Christmas merchandise. (Exclusively at larger branches of Safeways and Key Markets.) Later in the day you’ll be stuffing your turkey with Rooster Booster and singing to it winsomely about the virtues of Bacofoil. You’ll be consulting your copy of the TVC Hymns Ancient and Postmodern (Of Kings) for a selection of nostalgic carols (including While Shepherds Washed Their Socks by Night, Hark! The Beryl Vertues Sing (Series Three of Coupling), and O Come All Ye Faithful but with all the lyrics replaced with “Why are we waiting?”) And you’ll be pulling your luxury TVC Christmas crackers. (“Which member of the Golden Girls cast is also a teletext billionaire?” “Prestel Getty!”) But even then, as Val Doonican once said, you can’t hang loose. So it’s always a sweet deal to grab an hour to yourself in the early morning, while everyone else is still a-slumber, with a well-scheduled comedy classic. Admittedly The Producers isn’t normally what you’d see in this slot, being more of a Christmas Eve post-midnight affair, but it’s still a good fit. Even more so the Pink Panther film, though time’s getting on by now, so have a potato peeler in your hand as an excuse if you get caught.
BBC Radio 2
09.00 Junior Choice
16.00 Gary Davies Christmas Top of the Pops
As with the Christmas Creamguide, there are a few current festive traditions where we’re not entirely sure why they’re still going, and the Junior Choice revival on Christmas Day is one of them, especially with Stewpot now long dead. Still, Anneka Rice is likeable enough and we’d have loved her to stay in Strictly longer, despite doing the worst dance in the show’s history. Then later it’s what’s basically Sounds Of The 80s And Also A Bit Of The Nineties, with every Christmas number one of those two decades, which sounds more like a threat than a promise.
18.20 Worzel Gummidge
Interesting to read Mackenzie Crook in the promotion for this saying he never watched the Jon P’twee series because, yes, his family didn’t watch ITV. So here’s good news for those who still refuse to linger on the light channel, as this adaptation, which Crook has written himself, is apparently a very handsome and likeable affair, and with a stellar supporting cast headed by Michael Palin.
19.20 Paddington 2
The first instalment of this brace of truly Perfect Films is on E4 tomorrow – at 2100, for some reason – and there’s an accompanying profile of Michael Bond to enjoy as well, if you’ve managed to compose yourself sufficiently after this is finished. Easier said than done, since we cried like a Russian peasant at the denouement. Almost the most pleasing aspect of these tremendous efforts is every part, no matter how small, being played by a famous face of some kind after the manner of any British film pre-GHANDI. Although we understand Dickie Attenborough did try to cast Henry McGee as Jan Smuts. But you can’t have it all.
17.30 Porridge (The Film)
We kept having to read and re-read the listing for this in the Radio Times (five quid?!) employing different pairs of spectacles and in varying light, in order to convince ourselves that this really is on a proper channel during the hours of daylight (sort of.) Still we remain unsure but would hope we’re not wrong and that the nation will return home from the sales to the soothing tones of The Listerine Sloosh. We certainly can’t imagine any way to prepare the nippers for Rogue One on BBC1 afterwards by sitting them down to enjoy Gorden Kaye tied up on a lav with us teas on us laps. It truly is a magical time of the year.
20.00 The Two Ronnies: The Studio Recordings
Not sure why there’s so much Ronnage around this Christmas, but whatever the reason is we’ve got this again we’re pleased, as it hasn’t been repeated for a couple of years and it’s absolutely fascinating. It’s the beautifully compiled compilation of offcuts from the cutting room floor, including alternative takes of some familiar items, and some sketches that never made it into the finished show despite there appearing to be nothing wrong with them. We always wondered if there was anything to be said for a full series of this kind of thing from comedy shows of all kinds, but seemingly not, so make the most of this.
21.00 Paddington – The Man Behind The Bear
Surely on page one of the Boys’ and Girls’ Bumper Book Of Telly Facts is that, while Michael Bond was penning the first Paddington stories, he was also working as a cameraman at the Beeb, including regularly on Blue Peter, hence the Paddington stories in the book every year. Of course, he could jack it in when his creation became a hit, and the current film series ensures he’s just as popular as ever. Seems like Bond was a lovely bloke as well, inspired to create the character by the likes of Windrush. Taking part in this doc are Val Singleton and Jeremy Clarkson, who of course was put through school thanks to the merchandising.
00.45 The Entertainer
The finest film about Bass Draught ever made.
21.00 The Royal Institution Christmas Lectures
The Royal Institution lectures are a feature of the children’s Christmas holidays. This year they are about ships. G.I. Taylor, F.R.S., is giving the series this year. This afternoon he will explain, with actual experiments, why ships roll in a rough sea. That’s the billing when the Lectures were televised for the first time in 1936, BBC Television’s first ever Christmas, making it our oldest festive telly fixture by some margin. And we don’t think they’re ever been as prominent as they are now, seeming even more at home on BBC4 given the lecturer this year is Hannah Fry, who presents pretty much every other programme on this channel.
21.00 One Foot In The Algarve
We’ve gone on holiday with ten years of Access statements and a hundred copies of The Beezer! Whenever people talk of the great sitcoms, we don’t hear much about One Foot, which is a real shame as not only is it one of the cleverest, most beautifully plotted sitcoms ever made, but it was doing it right in the middle of primetime BBC1 and pulling in millions of viewers. Indeed it’s 26 years to the day that this episode became one of the most watched things of the nineties and we’re delighted to see it again, defying the usual convention that sitcoms away from their usual setting are rubbish by being consistently hilarious. And it turns into the pilot of Jonathan Creek halfway through as well!
17.30 Blue Peter
So the Christmas show may have been back on 12th December rather than Christmas Eve, but here’s a day it was never on during the Biddy imperial phase. While it doesn’t have the huge exposure it once did, Blue Peter continues to impress with its unrivalled ability to get behind the scenes of everything and quietly shows so many places for the first time on television. Hence a review of the year’s competitions will follow some lucky viewers doing things money can’t buy, surely the nearest thing in this year’s festive schedules to Noel’s Christmas Presents.
16.55 The Green Berets
20.00 Rocky III
Dads, start your napping …
14.50 Flash Gordon
In 1983 this was the Big Film on BBC1 for Christmas Eve. 35 years later it’s on in the afternoon of Boxing Day, screened by a digital channel we’ve literally never heard of. This is not progress. It’s something. But it’s not progress.
BBC Radio 6 Music
13.00 Martin Freeman: Decades
We almost sent this one to Popbitch but decided to keep it as a Creamguide exclusive – we saw Martin Freeman in the CafÈ Nero next to Broadcasting House this year and he didn’t buy anything, he just went to the toilet. Maybe he was there – at the Beeb, not in the toilet – planning this series where over the next six days he’ll be making his personal selection from sixty years of pop, starting in the sixties.
FRIDAY 27th DECEMBER
18.30 Celebrity Mastermind
All of these billings could well be rendered incorrect if they decide to shuffle every episode on if the Champion of Champions doesn’t go out last Saturday, rather than just whack it to the end of the run. But if it’s the latter, the new celebs appear here, and while in previous years we’ve been amaze they can drag forty celebrities up to Salford, now they’ve got to traipse to Belfast. In this one the campaigner and journalist Adam Pearson shows a different side to himself by talking wrestling.
20.30 A Question of Sport at 50
You think that’s what happened? You think that what you have just said is the right answer to the question? Despite being surely the most erratically-scheduled programme on TV at the moment, it’s still with us half a century later, although it’s certainly not what it used to be with the very intense discussion between the hosts and the guests (Yeah, I’ve had a few setbacks but I’m raring to go), the viewers’ competition backed by There Are More Questions That Answers and, our favourite bit, the All These Sports Stars’ Names Are Vegetables question in the one minute round where one team member was assigned to simply shout out answers for its entire duration. These days it’s all charades and endless laughter at nothing, but it’s nice to see it still celebrates its heritage, even if you’ll have seen all these clips and heard all the anecdotes on every other anniversary.
22.10 Love Actually
From a time when you could make a film about the Prime Minister falling for a young female cleaner and it not have to be labelled ‘Contains Scenes of Sexual Violence’ for the audience to buy it. [SATIRE]
Basically a Hollywood film version of You’re Only Young Twice but with aliens instead of the Window Gang and Brian Dennehy as Miss Milton.
19.05 Sink the Bismarck!*
*see Creamguide(Films); ref. BBC2 Boxing Day 1730 / Mr Barraclough’s offside flag
21.00 The Decade The Music Died
We’ve mentioned before the theory that’s been floated that everything went wrong when Bowie died, and of course there was that suggestion that 2016 was the most lethal year in history with endless beloved entertainers passing away. In reality it was no worse than any other year, but sadly we have now reached the era when the first generation which shaped pop is in its old age and so it’s a bit inevitable they’ll be dying off quicker than ever before. Here’s ninety minutes to shuffle through an entire decade of deaths.
BBC Radio 2
14.00 Matt Lucas’ TV Themes
Well, here’s a title we can work with! Lucas and Walliams have always struck us at top Creamers, right back to their Mash and Peas sketches in the nineties parodying the likes of Why Don’t You, and as noted Whovians we’re assuming they spent much of the decade watching any old rubbish on UK Gold. So this should be a likeable afternoon and, as we’ve mentioned in the past, should fit our criteria of Radio 2 daytime fare during the holidays as having as much familiar fare as possible to make for suitable accompaniment to long drives to relatives.
And that’s that!
…but only for the first week because we’ll be back in your inboxes tomorrow with all the telly, films and radio for the second week of the festive season. See you then!
By the way…
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