TV Cream

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Let’s play…fantasy Sunday night scheduling

Thinking more about Sunday Night Telly (TM), particularly in light of some of your comments, it’s clear that it was once, more so than any other, the night that had the most palpable associations with watching TV. More so than Saturday night, when the business of sitting in front of the box would forever be disturbed by social events and comings and goings. No, Sunday night was once the time when the black arts of scheduling were deployed to the full and you happily surrendered yourself to the crystal bucket until you decided/were told to go to bed.

Which leads to this: a TV Cream challenge. Imagine you are Controller of BBC1. How would you schedule Sunday night so as to restore some of that once-pervasive Grade-patented “smell”? What, in other words, is your fantasy Sunday night line-up?

A couple of rules. This isn’t a free-for-all: the BBC department chiefs are supplying you with a fixed roster of shows, with only one gap for a completely new commission. And the slot to fill is 6.30-11.30pm: five hours.

To play with, in alphabetical order, you have:

Contemporary drama series (50 minutes)
News and weather (15 minutes)
Period drama serial (50 minutes)
Personality-led documentary/investigation (40 minutes)
Quiz/panel game (30 minutes)
Sitcom (30 minutes)
Topical chat/talk show (45 minutes)
YOUR CHOICE (40 minutes)

The programme just before 6.30pm is Songs Of Praise, and at 11.30pm there is a Late Film. If possible, please give examples of the kind of sitcom/talk show etc. you want to put in each slot, with presenters where necessary.

Time to spin that schedule wheel…



  1. steve norgate

    February 4, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    6:30 – Start light and ‘family. Has to not be too Saturday night (Blankety Blank) but still fun (Bullseye) and maybe a bit cerebral (Mastermind was always Sunday). So, err, Every Second Counts? Humpf. No. Oh, Ask The Family, then.

    7:00 – Sitcom – Ever Decreasing Was perfect for Sundays but this is early evening so feels more Allo Allo or 2.4 children. Don’t like those though so instead how about Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em?

    7:30 – The Wildlife. Attenborough’s the go-to guy for the main channel but too obvious to be any fun so let’s have some Desmond Morris

    8:10 – Jeeves and wooster OR Hickson era Marple? So hard to choose. Fry and Laurie have it and I will tell everyone that Anne Dudley of of The Art Of Noise did the music. Again.

    9:00 – News and weather (15 minutes) better get this one before it’s too late.

    9:15 – Contemporary drama series (50 minutes) Crime this must be and post watershed. Smiley’s People then, although my instinct is for something with more scotch (“scatch, George?”) and chilly looking swimming pools, Bergerac is too Saturday night but anything with a cop that drinks too much would do. Basically you want to be absorbed and distracted from the looming work week. If Marple gets the eralier slot then Beiderbecke get’s this one btw.

    10:05 Topical chat/talk show (45 minutes). Bit of whimsy, bit of probing, bit of business. Put you in a good mood before bed. So, Aspel & Company

    10:50 – Satired. Still up are you? Heavyweight thinkers and gag-meisters gather round and rake over the weeks events. Hosted by Clive James with a revolving panel of intellects and wit e.g. Will Self, Josie Long, David Mitchell, obligatory politician who’s *quite* funny actually even though they have to score a few points. Preferabley a reconstructed ex-gov minister. Includes pre-records from Our Man In The Street featuring hilarious comments from the streets of Britain with Danny Baker and the best of new stand-up talent.

    11:30 – Film – Preferably something featuring one of Mr Aspel’s guests.

  2. John Connolly

    February 4, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    I have spent two hours of my day at work doing this. Thank you TV Cream for distracting me from a boring job.

    5:50 – 6:30 Songs of Praise

    6:30: Quiz/panel Game. Bob’s Full House – Bob Mills hosts a revival of the classic bingo-themed game.

    7:00: Sitcom. Run for the Hills – New family sitcom featuring the misadventures of Harry Hill and his fictional family. With guest appearance from Al Murray as big brother Alan Hill.

    7:30: Period Drama (50 mins): Agatha Christie’s Sparkling Cyanide. Andrew Davies adapts the classic detective novel. Part 3 of 4.

    8:20 YOUR CHOICE (40 mins). Sunday Night at the London Palladium: Reload. Ant and Dec host a re-imaginingof the classic variety show. With comedy from Rob Bryden and Tim Minchin, music from Lilly Allen and the relaunch of the Golden Shot.

    9:00 Contemporary Drama (50 Mins): State of the Nation: Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin write this new hard hitting satire on Britain today. Starring Neil Pearson, Claire Skinner and Bill Nighy.

    9:50 News/weather (15 mins)

    10:05 Personality Led Documentary/Investigation (40 mins). Losing my bottle: Frank Skinner looks at alcoholism and wonders whether his own experiences as a recovering alcoholic have affected how he views the world.

    10: 45 – Topical Chat/Talk Show (45 mins). Another Week Gone: Stephen Fry is this week’s host discussing the week’s news with his guests Mark Thomas, Paul Dacre and Charles Kennedy.

    11:30 – 1:10 Late Film: Hopscotch (1974). Walter Matthau and Glenda Jackson run rings round both CIA and KGB as ex-agent Miles Kendig (Matthau) writes his memoirs blowing the whistle on cold war incompetence.

  3. Adrian

    February 4, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    1830 Quiz/Panel Game – University Challenge.
    1900 News and Weather (probably featuring a plane crash at an air show, or coverage of the 84/85 miner’s strike).
    1915 Sitcom – Last Of The Summer Wine in full on ‘home made contraption hurtles down hill’ mode.
    1945 Period Drama (probably The Onedin Line or All Creatures Great & Small).
    2035 Topical Chat Show – Harty or P***ky
    2120 Contemporary Drama Series – probably some doom laden generic disaster drama from the late 70s/early 80s.
    2210 Personality-led investigation (That’s Life, natch, during imperial Esther and the nancies period)
    2250 My Choice: Spitting Image, series 2, even if it was an ITV prog!

  4. Rob Williams

    February 4, 2009 at 6:33 pm

    Now you’re talking!

    18.30 (Quiz/Game Show) Catchphrase – Roy Walker in full pomp with Mr Chips

    19.00 My Family (Sitcom)- The Harper larking about with Robert Lindsay shouting ‘Susan!’ a lot…

    19.30 George Gently (Period Drama) – Martin Shaw stars as everyone’s favourite 1960’s policeman rounding up all the nasty elements

    20.20 Family Business (My Choice) – A drama about a family business coping with the Credit Crunch against the backdrop of bitter infighting

    21.00 News/Weather

    21.15 Survivors (Contemporary Drama) – Series Two of the re-working of Terry Nation’s orginal drama

    22.05 Whicker’s New World (Personality Led Documentry) – Alan Whicker re-visits some of the places covered in his earlier ‘Whicker’s World’ series and sees how much they changed.

    22.45 Seven Days (Topical chat show) Michael Portillo looks back the past week and chats to the newsmakers, with a wry look ahead at the week to come.

    Best I could do…

  5. Arthur Nibble

    February 5, 2009 at 12:36 am

    Can I subscribe to any of these four channels? They sound fantastic! Compare them to Channel Five’s desperate remake of Minder without the original actors, origianl playwright or original subtle humour.

  6. steve norgate

    February 5, 2009 at 11:23 am

    Bob Millls! Genius choice. I was thinking Full House but couldn’t decide how to get it back on air.

    And Anything with Bob Peck in the lead for contemporary drama makes sense.

  7. Five-Centres

    February 5, 2009 at 5:38 pm

    Nothing new, shows I loved in the past that have been made a afresh but are actually good.

    The Brothers/Howards’ Way/The Lotus Eaters

    The News. With Kenneth Kendall.

    Upstairs Downstairs. With Laurence Fox as James, Kelly Reilly as Georgina, Eileen Atkins as Mrs Bridges and Joss Ackland as Mr Hudson.

    That’s Life! Of course. With Esther and as her Nancies: Michael Underwood, Richard Arnold, Jonathan Maitland and an out of retirement Chris Serle. Richard Stilgoe at the piano.

    Blockbusters. For grown up and kids alike. Presented by Jon Tickle.

    To The Manor Born. Casting TBA.

    Friday Night, Saturday Morning, except on a Sunday. Hosted by Stuart Maconie. With guests Marianne Faithful, Billie Piper and Jon Hamm. Music from Julie Fowlis.

    My choice: Film of old London, excluding woman in yellow hat in Biba and man in top hat flicking through military jackets or George Best pouring champagne into tower of flutes.

  8. Arthur Nibble

    February 5, 2009 at 11:35 pm

    Coming up later on this channel…

    6.30 Gambit – with Fred ‘Chopper’ Dinenage terrorising the contestants and Michelle Lambourne into the bargain

    7.00 Survival (no, this email isn’t sponsored by Anglia!) – the life of the snow leopard, with all the obligatory birth / hunting / mating stuff

    7.40 Watching – morose yet somehow chirpy Scouse twitching comedy with Emma Wray and that Malcolm bloke, and special guests Bill Oddie and Kate Humble as the uninhibited Scandinavian neighbours (when the series runs out, stick Kinvig on!)

    8.10 Callan – classic brooding from Edward Woodward, with Russell Hunter as Lonely (if the tape snaps, then get Adam faith as Budgie)

    9.00 National News (9.05 decent regional news)

    9.15 Roger Cook – getting pummelled, but for all the right reasons

    9.55 Clive James on TV and on the Couch – with Marguetita Pracatan, and special guest Helen Mirren

    10.40 Upstairs Downstairs – with Jean Marsh, Mrs. Bridges, and Gordon Jackson scowling away in anticipation of that draft Professionals script

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