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Christmas Creamguide 2020: Week Two

Hullo there!

Welcome to the second part of your bumper Christmas Creamguide, which includes all the programmes for the rest of 2020, before we see out this bloody awful year and look optimistically towards a better one. Some interesting telly in the meantime, mind.

BOXING DAY

BBC1

17.00 Grease

We wouldn’t normally give this house room but hey! It’s Christmas. Or, more to the point, it’s The Funny Side of Christmas from 1982, which has cropped up on YouTube with a trailer for the BBC premiere Grease on before it.  Presented by the blessed Frank Muir, being actually funny to camera too, it’s essentially the eighties equivalent of Christmas Night with the Stars. Get it watched! Ideally while this lubed-up weirdo asphyxi-wank daydream is on.

BBC2

21.05 Victoria Wood: The Secret List

22.05 Victoria Wood Live

Second half of the superior compilation revealing her personal favourites from her back catalogue is followed by more vintage Victoria. It used to be that Victoria’s sketches were on the Beeb and her stand-up was on ITV, and indeed this show is one from 1997 which we think is getting its first ever showing on the BBC after numerous screenings on the light channel twenty years ago.

ITV

09.25 The Story of SMTV Live

“For as long as I can remember, my dad has done eggy pumps!” Cute scheduling here, although they’re obviously not going to chuck away an Ant, Dec and Cat reunion so it’s also on in primetime tomorrow. Amazingly it’s over twenty years ago since SMTV began, and the first few months were a disaster but, helped by some ill-advised revamps of Live and Kicking it became a smash hit. We think it’s probably the final knockings of the imperial phase of Saturday morning telly where there were very little competition so both kids and adults would watch, leading to appearances by a whole host of incredibly famous guests told to go on by their kids, and we remember it won the viewer vote in the Comedy Awards in 2000, beating off proper adult shows. Sadly, much like The Big Breakfast, it never managed to cope with the departure of its original stars and later became an identikit Saturday morning show with a revolving door of presenters, but for about two and a half years around the turn of the century it was a great show, huge fun for everyone from five to a hundred and five. As this programme will no doubt illustrate.

Sony Movies Action

17.05 Sink the Bismark!

[HMP Slade playing fields, Mr Barraclough is waving his flag around giving – then not giving – offside]

MR TREADAWAY: What’s he doing?

FLETCHER: I think it’s a message coming through in semaphore, sir. There you are look, Sink The Bismarck!

[DING!]

Talking Pictures TV

09.00 Runaround

Along with the Clap For Carers, what else has brought the nation together as much as the Runaround tweetalongs on weekend mornings? This channel’s voyage to the bowels of the Southern back catalogue began in earnest this year with the complete collection, but we’d scratched the surface of this goldmine a few years ago when they showed a couple of Christmas specials, and we’re getting those again over the next two days. At the time they seemed totally bizarre but we’ve learned over the past six months that it’s pretty much par for the course for this show. First up it’s 1979, which features, of course, a vintage car leaking coolant onto the studio floor, while a pack of huskies cause hugely entertaining and predictable chaos. No Tim, though, if you only watch for him.

15.10 The Winslow Boy

22.00 Personal Services

00.10 The Boys From Brazil

Three of the best, as Cynthia herself might’ve said, for an epic Boxing Day stretch with Cedric ‘So let it be written!’ Hardwicke doing the righteous indignation in the first, Julie Walters getting pleasure out of Payne in the second and then Gregory Neck just putting cherry black on his tache and stomping about in the latter. However,  don’t think that just cos TBFB is mad old toot populated as it seems with residents of Brinsworth House no one notices anymore.  It remains – we contend – fiendishly influential. Just take a look at the recent series of The Mandalorian  We’re thinking specifically of the penultimate episode and the Imperial Remnant officer in the mess chatting to our heroes. His speech is a mirror to Peck’s diatribe to Lieberman in Bobby Wheelock’s house at the end. And the officer is called Hess. And they’re hiding in a jungle. If the Child turns out to be one of Denholm Elliott’s sprogs, we’re calling a lawyer.

BBC Radio 2

13.00 Pick of the Pops

It’s the best present Gambo could have given us! In fact, the second best as he’s not playing an American chart as he sometimes does at this time of year. It’s a 1979 chart, which as we all know are the very best charts on this show by some distance, with their brilliant combination of ace disco and fantastic Look-In pop, as we’ll hear yet again. Then it’s off to 1995, as seen on BBC4 seven days ago, of course, and the most excited we’ve ever been about the race for Christmas number one, though alas it was only disappointment in the end.

BBC Radio 4

20.00 It’s Behind You! The Weird and Wonderful Story of British Pantomime

Lovely moment on Twitter earlier this year when the UK correspondent for the New York Times or similar paper turned his nose up at the government’s bail-out for theatres concentrating on panto, only to get a thorough telling-off from everyone involved in British theatre who pointed out, quite rightly, that panto is massively important, as pretty much the only show that most people attend in the year, and a vital way of getting a new generation excited by theatre. Sadly we don’t have Larry Grayson around to discuss his panto memories, as discussed in the 1978 Christmas Radio Times (“George Lacey was a great dame. Great Mother Goose. And the most marvellous dame, female dame, was Nellie Wallace, of course, Widow Twankey, Palace, Manchester, the home of pantomime. GS Melvin was a wonderful dame. He got drowned, you know. Going round his garden and he got drowned by the Thames.”) so it’s Christopher Frayling instead.

SUNDAY 27th DECEMBER

CHANNEL 4

14.10 Edward Scissorhands

It’s hard not to love Burton’s Modern Fairy Tale (TM everyone ever) but really we only watch as far as Vincent Price and stop. There’s not much Vinny around this Christmas that we can divine amongst the acres of printed listings in the Radio Times this year (summer holiday supplement down to two sheets! Ha!) and that is not a Good Thing. But we’ll take anything. Meantime there’s Alan Arkin too and if you haven’t caught him on The Kominsky Method as you rot at home, do so before we are all released back into the wild sometime after the Tripods land. It’ll be ages before we are capped though. Not a high risk category.

21.00 Back to the 80s with Lenny Henry

There’s no particular anniversary to pin this too, the fact that clip shows are about the easiest thing to make at the moment likely to be the bigger factor, but over the next four nights we’re getting a potted history of Channel Four. It’s an entertainment show so don’t expect things like The Eleventh Hour and The Friday Alternative, but hopefully there’ll be enough oddities unearthed over the course of the week to make it worth checking out. Lenny Lenny Len is our guide to the early years, a slightly odd choice as other than the odd appearance on Saturday Live he didn’t do all that much for Channel Four, but hopefully he’ll dig out some more intriguing clips of the likes of The Tube, Brookside and Countdown than the half dozen we usually see.

CHANNEL 5

21.00 We Love Only Fools and Horses

Circa 2003, Only Fools seemed to be pretty much on a loop on BBC1, with repeats being parachuted into every single vacant slot on the channel, but we’ve not seen so much of it on free TV in recent years, as it’s been confined to and seemingly much prized by Gold. Even if the clips here all come from the DVDs, this should be a fairly enjoyable ninety minutes, as while we don’t appear to have any of the cast contributing, Paul Whitehouse is a sort-of cast member so he’ll do.

Talking Pictures TV

09.00 Runaround on Ice

That’s right, and given what a shambles this show is on solid ground, imagine what a mess was on the cards at Christmas 1980. Indeed guests Madness actually look quite sensible compared to some of the other bits of business we get, starting with Reid getting pushed on in a bobsleigh sponsored by Rolling Stones Records before spending most of the half hour clinging onto the set for dear life. A few years ago this channel showed this on Christmas Day!

13.35 The Ghosts of Berkeley Square

You can watch this on YouTube anytime really but hopefully this version on an actual telly channel will be more people than fog. Robert ‘Does nobody else remember he presented Sunday Night at the London Palladium? Oh yes, he did!’ Morley and Felix ‘as to his character God alone can say’ Aylmer are two old spooks who won’t get any rest after centuries until a proper Queen stays a night in their house. Pity really. If it had been Hanover Square instead,  Danny la Rue could’ve popped in on his way to work. Job done!

MONDAY 28th DECEMBER

BBC1

18.30 Celebrity Mastermind

Given this show ran until mid-March last time round, we can probably stop thinking of this as a Christmas show, with its umpteen episodes meaning that when this run has finally finished we might even have forgotten why it doesn’t have an audience. This one’s a Champion of Champions show which, unfortunately for those wishing to make some dull point about the standards of this show, means four pretty smart contestants. So that’s Miles Jupp on David Gower, Zoe Lyons on Jacques Cousteau, Neil Hannon on Merchant Ivory and Lucy Porter on, her again, Victoria Wood.

01.45 Mindhorn

‘Noughties’ comedy always was a bit of a WAP-enabled brick wall for TV Cream, as we were forever doing our best to get excited about anything that sounded like a good idea, only to find that they invariably turned out to be a good idea waving for a lifebelt in a wash of badly rendered ‘film look’ effects, mumbled trailing off punchlines, clunky non-stop doorbell-hit-by-a-Goldie-Presents-Metalheadz-12″ music, and general attempt to shoehorn that good idea into somebody else’s good idea from eighteen months previously that everyone else had been shamelessly trying to copy ever since. And that was just the ones we worked on, boom boom. The Mighty Boosh always was one of the cut above efforts, though, and The Other One Julian Barrett serves up an immensely likeable bit of Pulaski-riffing silliness in this tale of a retired TV Detective required to literally BE his cybernetically-eyed fictional counterpart in order to capture an absconded felon with an unhealthy obsession with the not especially fondly remembered eighties show. Sort of came and went on release and it’s on at stupid o’clock here but well worth a look. Where IS that movie of BBC3’s Clone, though?

BBC2

09.55 Evil Under The Sun

Parrot for Mr. Poirot! Peter Ustinov takes time out from ‘anecdotes’ to do the Hercule honours in this reasonable adaptation, kicking off a giant wasp-pleasing Poirot-themed day on BBC, which also takes in a Talking Pictures feature on Agatha Christie at 11.45, Albert Finney hunting for Arfur and Terry in Murder On The Orient Express at 14.10, and that man Ustinov returning to cast his magnifying glass over Death On The Nile at 16.15. That drawing of Joan Hickson from the end titles of Miss Marple was not available for comment. Mainly because it had swapped sides to incorporate that extra-long credit two thirds of the way through.

19.30 Mastermind

No, we won’t do the joke again, though this scheduling does unfortunately provide the opportunity for dullards to sneer at how easy the celeb one is. It’s the Great British Public back in the chair for this one, and someone’s a glutton for punishment as they’re doing UK hit singles – but from 2000 to 2004, when there were about a million new entries in the chart every week. Someone else is quizzed on Kenneth Williams, of whom more later.

ITV

11.25 National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

They’ve actually billed it with the full title for once, so it’s getting a billing from us. It’s actually quite heartwarming to see that the movie that was once considered the Mission To Moscow of the franchise – and over here didn’t so much go straight to video as hurtle down the chimney right past it – has gradually moved away from its small hours banishment and towards this kind of gentle acceptability, although you do have to wonder how much of it is going to be trimmed in this timeslot. Only given two stars by Radio Times, and while yes, there’s not exactly a punched Wally World talking moose in it, there’s plenty to enjoy, and a nice Mavis Staples theme song too. But yeah, you big up your Dam Busters, see if we care.

21.30 Billy Connolly: It’s Been A Pleasure

Much like Kenneth Williams, Billy Connolly is one of those people who managed to enjoy a long and successful TV comedy career without ever really doing a fully-fledged TV comedy show, as other than An Audience With most of his other TV appearances came via travelogues, chat shows and recordings of his live shows. But such is his health he’s giving up the latter, hence this show where he reflects on his career and receives tributes from some famous friends, and they’re not messing around either, with Macca, Dustin Hoffman and Whoopi Goldberg among them.

CHANNEL 4

16.05 Planes, Trains And Automobiles

Technically actually a Thanksgiving movie rather than a Christmas one per se, but it’s been accepted as seasonal canon all the same, and in any case, we’re not intending to open the door to the usual round of Die Hard/Iron Man 3/Silent Night Deadly Night Part 2 arguments even if they turn up carol singing and demanding figgy pudding. They are, though, especially if you’re going to insist that Keeping The Dream Alive by Freiheit is a Christmas Single. Steve Martin and John Candy are on tremendous comic form as they embark on an Ultra Quiz-esque transport-hopping odyssey in the hope that they can get home to their respective families in time for the big day, and indeed before anyone convinces them that remaking Sgt. Bilko would be a good idea in any multiverse. Now on to Wagons East!

21.00 Back to The 90s with Vic Reeves

A suitable host for this next browse through the archives, as Vic Reeves Big Night Out debuted in 1990 and, when someone suggested to Michael Grade that the viewing figures weren’t all that, he said “If nobody’s watching this we should carry on doing it”. We’d suggest this was probably Channel Four’s golden age, home to all the most fashionable shows of the day and increasingly popular without being too populist. Certainly shows like The Big Breakfast – which we were obsessed with for about eighteen months – Father Ted and Brass Eye fitted squarely into C4’s ethos of innovation and encouraging new talent while also being huge hits. Not sure about The Word, mind, a dreadful show that’s now only getting any kind of critical rehabilitation as everyone involved in it is now running British TV. There are two more of these shows to go which are of less interest, but for completeness’ sakes it’s Davina on the noughties tomorrow and Jimmy Carr on the final decade on Wednesday, of which the less said about the better.

23.00 Trainspotting

The film that reinvented a thousand Student Union two-for-one on spirits ‘indie’ nights to nobody’s great benefit, and clogged up cinemas with literal low-rent imitators for years afterwards despite nobody you know ever going to see any of them even if they were actually *in* them, which we’re only really including here as a roundabout way of crowbarring in a mention for that anti-piracy ad you used to get at the start of VHS tapes where a bloke who wasn’t very convincing complained remarkably calmly about having paid a pound for a ropey murky shot-in-the-cinema copy of the latest blockbuster from a dodgy geezah daaaaahn the market, who unsurprisingly refused to refund him and chortled “Tra-hain-spotting?” as a closing zinger. Something to ponder next time you’re trying to circumvent that white on blue Press MENU No Not THAT MENU thing at the start of Bluray.

BBC4

20.00 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures

Never mind Top of the Pops, this made up part of BBC Television’s first ever Christmas back in 1936, although it’s missed a few years since then, plus a lost decade or so when it shuffled around any channel that would have it. Safe and sound in the bosom of the Beeb, like most shows it’s a bit different this time round with a virtual audience and three lecturers, but more than any other programme it seems well-placed to cope with anything.

21.00 Kenneth Williams: Fantabulosa!

22.20 Comic Roots: Kenneth Williams

Having watched the round on Ken on Mastermind earlier, you’ll be well-placed to spot all the anachronisms and factual errors in the former. Memories not just of Ken here but when BBC4 used to have a drama budget, with Michael Sheen in the title role and now, of course, also serving as a tribute to Barbara Windsor. Then it’s another outing for the fascinating show from 1983 where Ken travels back to the London he knew, which obviously now looks just as alien as the thirties would have then.

TUESDAY 29th DECEMBER

BBC1

00.00 Point Break

Bus Stop-promoted surftastic action thriller from the height of Keanumania, when the deep and sensitive girls in your class with CND signs on their pencil cases affected to actually like My Own Private Idaho rather than finding it formless pretentious twaddle that Bill and Ted would have considered most heinous, and long-forgotten indie shouters The Voodoo Queens followed up their incendiary single Supermodel Superficial with one about drooling over Keanu Reeves while not caring sufficiently to learn how to pronounce his name properly; a high frequency instance of feminist pranksterism that was lost of ninety eight percent of Vox readers.

02.30 Anita And Me

Not quite as good as the book, but Meera Syal’s tale of growing up on a diet of Hartley Hare, Curly Wurlys and low-level racism from the sort of people who insisted ‘Enoch’ was ‘right’ but probably couldn’t spell his name, or even their own come to think of it, set against a backdrop of sub-Psychomania biker types and sub-Public Information Film dares to enter abandoned properties, is given a decent enough rendering and is worth catching for the Chicory Tip/Barry Blue/Lieutenant Pigeon-heavy soundtrack alone. ‘Me’ is called Meena, by the way, just in case you were thinking of attempting to build up some sort of Withnail And I Expanded Universe.

CHANNEL 5

12.10 The Bridge On The River Wye

George Martin has to edit out every ‘k’ uttered by Alec Guinness due to legal difficulties in a film that was always a bit too serious and widescreen and generally on while Digby, The Biggeest Dog In The World was on the other side to be considered a Cream-era staple, but it would be remiss of us not to flag it up here, and not just because it’s immediately followed by A Bridge Too Far, which, despite appearances, is not actually a sequel. It would have been fun to see William Holden go Electric Boogaloo, though.

21.00 Bob Monkhouse: Master of Laughter

23.05 An Audience with Bob Monkhouse

We always think about Lord Bob around this time of year, as he did on this day back in 2003 and an inmate of TVC Towers went onto Five Live to talk about him and Peter Allen tried to get them to sing the theme tune of The Golden Shot. And this should be a top documentary as well, as we see it’s been produced by Bob’s old mate Mark Wells, so even if we’ve seen the clips before they’ll all be well worth seeing again. Then it’s the show that, alongside HIGNFY, did the most to emphasise he was still a relevant and funny star for the nineties with, yes, “GMTV? Give Me The Valium!”.

BBC4

21.00 Bruce Dickinson: Sing For Me Sarajevo

Metal is one musical genre that we simply have no ear for whatsoever, as while we like a few things like Ace of Spades, much of it washes over us and we haven’t got a clue what differentiates a good metal record from a bad one. A shame, given so many of the people involved seem lovely, like Iron Maiden who are still gigging to huge acclaim from their fans, performing all their hits and seemingly having a whale of a time. This sounds a great story too, as at the height of the war in Bosnia, the UN suggested that what might raise morale among young people would be a rock concert. So out flew Bruce Dickinson, and this film will illustrate that it was an eye-opening experience for Bruce but seemingly an incredibly moving and satisfying one, while for the locals it was a rare chance to enjoy a bit of fun and excitement.

WEDNESDAY 30th DECEMBER

BBC1

18.30 Celebrity Mastermind

Everyone forgets this now, but about a decade ago BBC2 commissioned a new series of Bottom, except a few months after that announcement Rik and Ade realised the scripts weren’t going anywhere and it was abandoned. Easy to forget what a massive show Bottom was in its day too, and we’re thrilled that Scarlett Moffatt, who we’ve always liked, has picked it as her special subject. Elsewhere former Menswear drummer Matt Everitt has done alright for himself as a writer and broadcaster, and he’ll be questioned on something he’s seen from both sides, Glastonbury.

23.30 Highlander

There can be only one, though you wouldn’t know it from the small army of obsessives who even over a decade later would still approach you in a pub to ask you if the book you were reading about the history of Children’s Television “had anything about Highlander in it”. Queen provide the bombast, the bloke who directed Derek And Clive Get The Horn orders Christopher Lambert and Seen Canary around the set, and that burly bloke all your friends think is a ‘right laugh’ but you never quite saw the appeal of turns up to everything and anything dressed as The Kurgan for ever more. There was a lot of this sort of stuff around in the early eighties, from Robin Of Sherwood and Black Angel to the Safety Dance video, and this was about as big as it got before ITV refused to show that William Tell series and it all sort of disappeared overnight.

01.20 Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa

This is sports desk, he’s Alan Partridge. Jenkins The Killer Whale goes on the rampage as Barton’s Matches prepare to make their ‘Urine Man’ Lionel Cosgrave redundant and the results of Chapman Baxter’s ‘Free Or Fried?’ phone vote roll in, but seriously, this is the best Alan Partridge-related thing that anyone has done in a very, very long time, not least because of the presence of several stray former members of The Mock Turtles in the cast, and that photo of Alan with the dog. Sadly no Comedy Clown Patrick Marber though. Mind you, there’s still the difficult question of who REALLY created Alan Partridge. Clue – he’s winking at it…

BBC2

13.05 To Catch A Thief

Alfred Hitchcock proves he’s not set in stone with this top drawer mystery movie starring Cary Grant and Grace Kelly in a rip-roaring caper about a jewel thief being framed for a jewel theft he did not commit, which the younger Creamguide (Films) will freely admit to always having got mixed up with It Takes A Thief, a 1968 Glen A. Larson series featuring Robert Wagner as a loveable conman and Fred Astaire as his father, the top hattiest thief of them all or something, which all of those books like Halliwell’s Television Companion would never shut up about but which seemingly nobody has ever actually seen. Even the Wikipedia page just has crumbly photos out of TV Guide!

14.50 North By Northwest

The Hitchcock ‘fun’ continues with this plane-dodging nailbiter that launched a million homages in episodes of The Simpsons where nobody can remember which one they actually were, though TV Cream will always associate it with This Is… The Return Of Cult Fiction, one of those belting Britpop-surfing post-TFI Friday lounge/soundtrack mid-nineties compilations so beloved of people working in advertising with no ideas of their own, where the main title theme sat uneasily alongside those of Enter The Dragon, The Professionals, Dave Allen At Large, Man About The House, Roobarb and, erm, Ski Sunday, setting a bizarre one-size-fits-nobody template that would be followed to the letter by short-stay high street sensation Cult TV Magazine. And not by any websites trading in lazy uncritical nostalgia. Definitely not.

22.00 The Nine Lives of Ozzy Osbourne

After Bruce Dickinson last night, more metal here. We’ve seen plenty of Ozzy up close and personal in the last decade or so, and much like when Cradle of Filth did Living With The Enemy, you wonder if it was the best PR move for him as he often came across as pretty lovable. Hard to imagine now he’s very much a modern day sitcom dad that he was genuinely a hell-raiser, hence this documentary is framed around nine moments where he really did nearly die.

CHANNEL 5

18.00 Dirty Dancing

It’s an evening of Patrick Swizzle on Five, with the Bill Medley’s Heavy Concept Album-soundtracked nostalgi-romanti-dance-off against City Hall followed by Demi Moore sobbing SOMEBODEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE for the whole one hundred and twenty eight minutes in Ghost at 20.00, and the not at all remotely Daredevil-influenced tale of keepin’ your eyes on the road and your hands upon the wheel Road House at 22.35. One thing we’ve never quite got to the bottom of, however, is how Yer Actual Swayze ended up performing alongside Bill Treacher in 2004’s George And The Dragon – sadly not based on the Peggy Mount sitcom – and whether they indulged in inter-take discussion of their relative choreographic approaches to dancing with Jennifer Grey in a lift and collapsing across the sideboard in a dressing gown as the Christmas Club money revelation loomed.

NEW YEAR’S EVE

BBC1

00.00 Happy New Year Live!

Although, like most things on this Christmas, we’re promised something rather different here this year, it actually looks like a fairly standard New Year’s Eve on the Beeb, Graham Norton followed by the concert, this year from Alicia Keys. And Only an Excuse on BBC Scotland, of course. And then at midnight… er, something. Nobody seems to be giving much away, but in lieu of fireworks it’s going to be a moment that brings the nation together, whatever that is. No, they’re probably not going to announce they’re dropping the Oneness idents, thanks.

02.10 Made In Dagenham

Splendiferous Sandie Shaw-masterminded social history period piece based on a true story-captioned retelling of the real life Society For Cutting Up Men (But Politely) tale of a bunch of late sixties sewing machinists who went on strike to demand equal pay, despite the bosses insisting that women couldn’t be paid as much as men because reasons. One of those overlooked but entertainingly spot-on modern history efforts that seem to sneak out when nobody’s really looking, but any film that obliquely references Nai Zindagi Naya Jeevan is worth your time and attention, we’re saying.

BBC2

13.15 Rio Bravo

Not much in the way of dancing on the sand, nor indeed incessant repeats of Car 54 Where Are You?, as John Wayne, Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson all join forces to get repeatedly asked ‘where you from, stranger?’ in between unwarranted musical outbursts in a bid to keep a dangerous loner from being sprung from the local jailhouse before the bigger and badder lawmen can turn up to cart him off, which is all good rousing rootin’ tootin’ fun until you realise that it was deliberately made to overshadow poor old black and white High Noon and show them blacklisted commies somethin’, whereas nowadays Wayne would have probably just tweeted something about failing @garycooper and ‘Fake Old Timer’. Speaking of unwarranted musical outbursts, tree-talking-to Walter The Softy take on the Western Paint Your Wagon is also on at 15.30. Anyone else ever noticed the similarity between Wand’rin’ Star and I’m Walking Backwards For Christmas? It may have occurred to Harry Secombe when he sang it on Highway, we’re guessing.

22.00 Before They Were Famous

Well, here’s a show we haven’t seen in these pages for a while! Actually since the last episode in 2005, the format has appeared on three other channels – Almost Famous on BBC3, You Saw Them Here First on ITV and Before They Were Stars on Channel 5 – and we’ve watched them all because, like Alright on the Night, Before They Were Famous is a format that’s always going to come up with something amusing no matter how inept the execution. But never was it done better than in the original shows with Angus beautifully delivering a wonderful script by Danny Baker, and while it was perhaps never quite at home on Christmas Day, as it was for a few years, it was a deservedly popular show. Sadly this isn’t a new edition but a compilation of highlights from those shows, but they won’t have been on for ages so it’ll be nice to see again. And seemingly after the HIGNFY compilation last week, it might be the second show of the festive season where Angus could appear, but presumably won’t.

CHANNEL 4

00.55 East Is East

What once seemed like a gently nostalgic comedy poking fun at a time when ignorance and bigotry were seen as not only acceptable but even somehow aspirational and men with voices like a Gumby rammed in an air-raid siren placed in front of a British Rail tannoy went about shouting to nobody but themselves (so nobody then) about how ‘Enoch’ was ‘right’ suddenly feels a lot less warm, cuddly and cosy now, but let’s just concentrate on the positive messages from this rip-roaring comedy with plenty to say. Ruth Jones steals the show as brassy neighbour Peggy, the kids – especially Coronation Street’s Chris Bisson and Doctor Who That Never Was Archie Panjabi – are all fantastic, and the period detail is spot on, right down to the Clangers episode where they find the opening narration cold and haunting, and the inspired use of several-years-old pop discs that they would have been realistically more likely to own than current chart hits. We can’t really vouch for what’s showing in the cinema scene, mind, but it’s bloody funny anyway. Speaking of animations that used to be on before the news, Paddington is on earlier in the almost but not quite appropriate slot of 17.15, but while it’s really good, you will spend the whole time trying to figure out why the backgrounds are drawn animation while Peter Capaldi is stop-motion.

Sky Arts

16.15 Dinner for One

For many years the most famous festive fixture you’ve never seen, but Sky Arts have shown it on a couple of occasions now, and its recent arrival on Freeview means here it is on free TV for the first time. Every schoolboy knows that across Europe on New Year’s Eve everyone sits spellbound in front of a Freddie Frinton sketch from the early sixties, much to our bemusement, with the punchline “Same procedure as every year” apparently being a perennial catchphrase in Germany. Worth a look for novelty’s sakes, if not for comedy’s sake.

NEW YEAR’S DAY

BBC1

18.45 Doctor Who

For a while it looked like this might be the only drama on the Beeb this Christmas, as they filmed it alongside the last series, which would presumably have guaranteed it the Christmas Day slot again, but with the likes of Call The Midwife getting a shift on, it instead nestles into its now traditional New Year’s Day slot. In fact the team are suggesting that it ended up seeming a bit more topical than they expected with the Doctor quarantined and so the rest of the gang having to combat a Dalek invasion without her. Given they’ve mentioned it everywhere else we presumably aren’t spoiling it for you to say we lose two of the companions here (we won’t say the best two) but it won’t be too sad because Barrowman is on hand.

22.55 Guardians Of The Galaxy

Well, talk about going out on a high! It’s been a quiet year for cinemas for obvious reasons, and while Creamguide (Films) did manage to sneak out to see Bill And Ted Face The Music and The Broken Hearts Gallery during that brief moment of respite where everyone was don’t doing as Dominic Don’t does, there was no sign of Black Widow, Eternals or Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings, with the result that there’s going to be a Marvel Cinematic Universe effort out pretty much every three minutes next year, so if nothing else it’ll be fun to watch the mounting exasperation of those people you know who seem to think loudly expressing disinterest in for something they would have no interest in anyway, isn’t for them, and it literally could not be easier to avoid with their Irishmen and their Chernobyls and their that thing with that man out of the American thing where he’s sort of on a stroll through the park but he’s not or something. Anyway, whether you’re looking to catch up or just looking for an enormously fun sci-fi comedy blockbuster with the eighties references turned up to eleven, then this is the one for you as Star-Lord – born Peter Jason Quill in Missouri – is tasked with retrieving the Power Stone, one of six terrifyingly powerful cosmic stones that MCU primary antagonist Thanos is keen to retrieve, for safekeeping, leaving behind a trail of bad dates but never leaving behind the Walkman and compilation tapes of soft-rock classics that once belonged to his late mother, while Thanos’ daughters Gamora and Nebula – not exactly likely to be each other’s bridesmaid – are also both after the stone for purposes that run decidedly counter to those of their father, bounty hunters Rocket the a genetically engineered military grade cyborg raccoon and tree creature Groot are after Star-Lord for the money, worryingly literal muscleman Drax The Destroyer is after Thanos to avenge the deaths of his family, Star-Lord’s disreputable associates The Ravagers are after whatever they can get their hands on that will make them risibly small amounts of money, and the real intergalactic police, The Nova Corps, are after the lot of them. Bet Captain Marvel was grateful for all that effort when she got smacked in the face with the Power Stone in Endgame. Uproarious Flashdance-riffing fun from start to finish, and yes, that really is Amy Pond.

BBC2

08.40 On The Town

What’s it like, Bart? Bart? Bart? Sinatra, Kelly and Minshun go crazy Broadway-style with a whole day of New York shore leave in which to cram wine, women, singing and dancing and The Museum Of Anthropological History, while carefully overdubbing the word ‘helluva’ with ‘wonderful’ so nobody would ever suspect a thing and conspicuously failing to score any Free Goo. But do they visit Birdland, the Ghostbusters Fire Station, Beer Authority, Trump Tower to flick the V’s at it, or some kind of eighties club that’s actually full of emo goths with asymmetrical haircuts doing something involving laying guitars flat on the floor? Well it’s hardly ‘doing’ New York then, is it.

CHANNEL 5

9.30 Oliver!

Hot Sausage And Mustard-scoffage ahoy as Mark Lester, Jack Wild and Ron Moody pick a pocket or two while waiting to call Bill Grundy a ‘barstard’. Famed for its entire score of show-stoppers – Where Is Love?, Food Glorious Food, I’d Do Anything, EMI (Unlimited Edition) etc. – penned by Lionel Bart, who wrote tons of other exclamation-marked over-the-top stage musicals that never quite seemed to make the jump to the big screen, but was forever being wheeled out on ITV talk shows in the eighties whilst announcing his latest ‘comeback’. Incidentally, Creamguide (Films) recently saw a programme from the original 1960 West End production of Oliver!, bearing a cover illustration from an artist who had apparently been watching The Boy From Space instead.

11.35 Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

You’ll believe a car can fly! Ian Fleming-sourced family friendly mock-psychedelic fairytale escapades famed for the presence of John Redwood-alike Child Catcher, held up as one of the scariest screen villains of all time despite looking like he’s escaped from a cancelled edition of All-Star Record Breakers and promising sweet treats that no child in their right mind would get excited at the existence of. Very much one of those films where adults told children that “YER LIKE THIS”, presumably to stop them asking to watch The Black Hole or Xtro again, though some presumably did consider it wizard, super and smashing. Now, if they’d thrown Jim Bowen in there somewhere…

BBC4

21.00 Whitney at the BBC

And to conclude a very different Christmas, the last thing in the Christmas Creamguide isn’t the latest Pops doc. Instead BBC4 offer up an evening of Whitney Houston, with the inevitably rather tragic documentary by Nick Broomfield being preceded by this compilation. Much of the film expresses the sorrow that she let her phenomenal talents go to waste after she got distracted by horrible men and copious drugs, and this should illustrate that perfectly.

And that’s that!

We hope we’ve been of use to you, and we’d like to thank everyone who’s read and contributed to Creamguide throughout 2020. Don’t forget if you’re reading this on the website we do it for the other fifty weeks of the year, though in substantially inferior form and about 80% about Top of the Pops and Runaround. We’ll be back at the arse end of the year, around New Year’s Eve, but until then, a happy Christmas to all of you at home!

By the way…

We send out Creamguides every week via email. If you’d like to receive it – it’s free, there are no ads, we don’t sell on your address, you can unsubscribe whenever; we’re basically soppy like that – then fill in your details below.


5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. George White

    December 17, 2020 at 9:45 pm

    It Takes A Thief is quite fun. It’s very ITC, and the last series was shot in Italy, but the first two series are clearly tryingto do the Saint but in the backlot of Universal. There’san episode set in Liverpool with Julie Newmar, then a two parter with future Hollywood 7 star/Brady Bunch-er Barry Williams as the genius kid brother of talentless American movie star Joey Heatherton, who is England’s Mammoth Studios making a picture. The British studios are portrayed by Universal’s own lots, which also appear in the same ep playing supposed actual LOndon streets, including the offices of the Screen Extra Guild of Great Britain, where Reginald Owen himself appears as a doddering clerk trying to force his grandson upon “Casting Director” Wagner. Though we never learn why a British studio has a standing western set (even the sets on Carry On Cowboy I think were temporary, and the Prisoner Living in Harmony sets a redress of the French village from Eye of the Devil, also used in Casino Royale and the Arkin Inspector Clouseau).

    R:Boys from Brazil’s influence, also that Al Pacino Amazon series Hunters takes a lot from it, though that series’ twist about the Nai becoming a Jew has other precedents in various things notably the HTV ben Cross miniseries Freedom Fighter.
    Also, a lot of media post-Boys riffed on it. The BBC’s Secret Army sequel Kessler.

    Though Denholm is not one of the dads, he’s the Reuters journalist who turns Liebermann down. The fathers are John Dehner, Michael Gough and Richard Marner.

    • THX 1139

      December 18, 2020 at 10:23 am

      Ira Levin was quite the high concept guy for a while, I suppose that run of inspiration ran out with Sliver, but A Kiss Before Dying has a brilliant twist almost impossible to do justice to in film (so there’s two versions of it, of course). Difficult to see Rosemary’s Baby in the same cinematic universe as The Boys from Brazil (but The Stepford Wives? Maybe).

  2. THX 1139

    December 18, 2020 at 10:29 am

    Nothing will ever beat Adam and Joe’s Channel 4 round up from a couple of decades ago, and I’m not sure if these new shows will seek out the weirdness like that did, though with Vic Reeves you never know. It depends how much he had to do with the script, I suppose.

    Merry Christmas, TV Cream, looking forward to those festive podcasts…

  3. Richardpd

    December 18, 2020 at 1:17 pm

    Plenty of things to set my hard disc recorder for.

  4. Applemask

    December 18, 2020 at 7:37 pm

    You’re not meant to aspire to the intellectual level of Bill and Ted, you know.

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