TV Cream

How We Used To List

How We Used To List At Christmas!: 21st-27th DECEMBER, 2002

What we were watching this week 20 years ago, as recorded in the back-issues of TV Cream’s weekly ‘e-mag’, Creamguide…

(We still 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.)

WARNING: This Creamguide terminates at 64 KB.

WEEK ONE – 21st – 27th DECEMBER 2002
Ah, Christmas – where you meet people you never want to see at any other time of the year, and then watch people you never want to see at any other time of the year. It’s also the time of enormous editions of your regular listings guide, and Creamguide, of course, is no exception. There’s all sorts of Creamy stuff to be found over the next few weeks, and Creamguide’s crack troops have been searching through the schedules to find it. Hence, two enormous e-mails which we fully expect you to print out and stick under your telly – and alongside your radio. We hope you enjoy them.



TV – Blue Peter Christmas Show (Christmas Eve, 14.00, BBC1)
Those who argue Christmas telly isn’t what it used to be clearly haven’t seen the festive BP for a while, which follows exactly the same format it’s done for decades, and is all the better for it. It all starts with Christmas cards from viewers backed by Good King Wenceslas, then the advent crown, then the team reading some of the Christmas cards out, then the appeal totaliser, then the Christmas crib, then the film report from Lapland or somewhere, then presents for the pets, then the Salvation Army band, then the carol, then the shiny BP ship next to the copyright date. Always has been, always will be, and it may sound cliched, but our Christmas really wouldn’t be the same without it. Go on, you’ve got to watch it.

Radio – The Archive Hour (Saturday 21st, 20.00, Radio 4)
Who’d have thought a challenger for the esteemed role of Andrew Collins Sidekick would have turned out to be a tetchy waspish 90 year old with a habit for losing himself in his own sentences and who used to nick props from the post war (that’s the First World War) Ealing Studios? John Huntley was one of the best things about the early days of Back Row, before a tendency for “sideways-looks-at” think pieces led to the rather ponderous current state of the programme. Here’s he given a whole hour to play with, and even manages the rare feat of presuming to talk about different kinds of tape stock and machinery without sounding utterly humourless – a fine achievement indeed.
And the rest…

Saturday 21st December


08.00 Looney Tunes
There’s loads of these during the holidays, which is as it should be, really.

17.40 Fawlty Towers
Despite it’s status, we’re sure Farty Towels has only appeared on Christmas Day once, back in 1980 when it was billed as a ‘Christmas Comedy Classic’ at 11.40pm. Yet Bread appeared on the 25th three bloody times.


09.55 The World At War
The great Christmas tradition on BBC2 is, of course, a big long documentary screened every morning over the holidays. A great choice this year, being shown for the next fourteen days (except for Christmas Day) in, normally, double bills at this time – apart from ‘Genocide’, which is being shown at 19.05 next Saturday because it’s too disturbing for daytime viewing. If you’ve got the time to sit and catch any of them, it’ll certainly be worth your while.

17.15 To The Manor Born
Well, you know what episode this is going to be. Incidentally, The World At War reminds us that The Great War, the seminal series from 1964, is to be repeated on BBC2 in the New Year for the first time in thirty years. And during the original run, one episode was incredibly shown on BBC1 on Christmas Day!

21.05 I Love Toys
Here’s your big nostalgia show for the holidays, presumably including everything that hasn’t been on the previous two I Love Christmases. This should be a bit of fun, if they dig out some interesting stuff; we’re promised Lee Majors talking about becoming a doll, and Trinny and Susannah reviewing Barbie and Sindy’s wardrobes which, we’re afraid, we’d quite like to see.

23.35 Never Mind The Buzzcocks
We’re getting repeats of the last two series more or less every night over the next two weeks, although we’re loath to recommend it too highly as Mark Steel is in two of them. If you’re going to watch any, check out Jimmy Cliff, Sheila Ferguson and Lauren Laverne (Christmas Eve), Boy George, Mari Wilson and Tommy Vance (New Year’s Eve), *that* Pete Burns episode (New Year’s Day) and the Eurovision special with Tel (Friday 3rd).

00.05 I Love 1980
BBC2 and, especially, UK Horizons managed to repeat each episode of I Love The Seventies about a thosand times over the last two years, so much so we can recite every single word in most of them. But this is the first screening of the 80s series which does of course include Collins, Maconie and Quantick together, and thus is automatically brilliant.


21.05 Television Party Of The Year
Or Television Of The Year Party. Either way, this is another show celebrating the pick of the year’s telly, just like Channel Four’s 100 Greatest TV Treats and BBC1’s 2002 TV Moments (which, as last year, follows in March) already do anyway. We’re not actually sure waht’s going to happen here, but it’s held at the Royal Opera House and is presented by Gabby Logan and Gaby Roslin, and there shall be a ‘star-studded’ audience. And all the clips will be from ITV shows too, probably, so it’s unlikely to be worth the bother.


12.15 Two-Way Stretch
A tremendous early opener for our Festival Carnival of films with this Sellers-fest which, surprisingly, does not herald the launch of a Sellers season as the ‘seasons’ are actually a bit limited this year (see below). We can only remember fondly the way the Xmas films were kicked off in 1990 by a double bill of The Smallest Show on Earth and The Mouse That Roared and comfort ourselves instead by watching this, one of Sellers’ better pre-Panther escapades. With Bernard ‘Cuffy’ Cribbins, Maurice ‘more than just a Rawley’ Denham, Dave ‘career?’ Lodge, Wilfred ‘wohohohohahaha’ Hyde-Whyte, Irene ‘miscellaneous rubbish’ Handle , Liz Frazer and especially Lionel ‘P.O.S.H.’ Jeffries keeping this year’s Cream quotient at an all-time high.

19.05 Murder on the Orient Express
So, the Christmas films this year? Well, there’s a lot of ’em, but my God, are they a predictable bunch. Your best bet, “season”-wise, is BBC1’s late night sitcom adaptation strand, though of course Channel Four are pumping out a few of their own as well, plus the odd, well-chosen Ealing classic. There is – sigh – a Carry On glut as per usual, but we’re not being so hard on the broadcasters for that as we were last year, for reasons (well, one reason) that will become clear later. Oh, and there’s a series of old Basil Rathbone-Nigel Bruce Sherlock Holmes thrillers on BBC2, if that’s the particular ‘bag’ that you’re ‘into’, and a smattering of Planet of the Apes (again). Other than that, a mixed bag, and practically all the old chestnuts have come out again this year, including this infamous star-studded Poirothon, which we won’t spoil for anyone who doesn’t know the ending, as it is Christmas.

21.30 The Paranormal Peter Sellers
Well, we know quite a lot about Sellers – he was too nervous to appear on Parky as himself, he knew Princess Margaret, he filmed more or less everything he did, and so on – but one thing that we’ve until now been oblivious too is his interest in the occult, This documentary claims to show how he relied on clairvoyancy and spritual guides throughout his career.

22.35 Elvis Lives
Three shows in a row about The Pelve, which you’d have thought might have been better off going out during the 25th anniversary commemorations in August. Still, first up is a bought-in documentary, nicked off VH1 or something, which is presented by Chris Isaak, and aims to feature a ‘unique portrait’ of the man. Interviews are interspersed with bands performing covers of his songs, though nothing’ll be quite as great as Always On My Mind by the Pet Shop Boys, and that’s true.

23.35 One Night With You
In other words, the ’68 Comeback Special. Which you know about.

00.45 Elvis ’56 Special
And this is a set of old footage taken from early in his career. And that’s it.


05.10 Sons and Daughters
In the spirit of goodwill, this is not shown on Friday.


10.00 Jonathan Ross
Been a patchy year for this show, with the music becoming more self-indulgent, the banter increasingly one-sided, and worse of all a guest policy that has shifted to the dreadful idea of booking whoever was on the abysmal TV version the week before, rather than the (more tolerable) other way round. Still, the pre-Xmas edition is traditionally above average, though they won’t want to be hitching themselves to anyone like Gordon “Who?” Haskell again.

13.00 The Monkhouse Archive
First of several appearances this Xmas from Bob, who’s ubiquity on this station is beginning to rival that of Wogan’s, except being more decent, deserved and, well, damn funny. Connoisseurs of the “fifty percent down!” school should hang on around 72 hours and 13 minutes, but anyone hoping that Kenneth Williams was going to drop by at some point during the season need look no further.

14.00 Pick Of The Pops
Typical mix of the lame and the legendary here, with a pointless spool back to 1957 only because ‘Mary’s Boy Child’ was number one, but then a long-awaited leap forward to the sublime 1988 – and for once the otherwise demented “top 20” policy might come good with a crop of the vintage Xmas stuff on offer during that grand year, including Squire Astley struggling down at number 11, plus mind Kylie, Jason, Angry, and Sir Clifford (fill in those all-important spoken “live” bits yourself).


20.00 The Archive Hour
See up there.

Sunday 22nd December


10.45 Grease 2
We suppose logic dictates that this should be twice as bad as the original, but rather like calculating one’s tax contribution, it never really works out the way one expects but always that bit more. Bloody awful, then.


18.25 Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em
Course, back in the day this was an integral part of your Christmas Day, so much so Michael Crawford got on the cover of the Christmas Radio Times in 1974. Mind you, so was Mike Yarwood, and you don’t see any of his stuff repeated, do you? He beat Morecambe and Wise in 1977 too, y’know.

00.15 I Love 1981
A pre-sectioned Adam Ant fronts this show, and it’s a good one, too, with a nice piece on nuclear paranoia and a feature on Kim Wilde. How can you go wrong? There’s also a section on Bullseye, which is interesting because they show clips from the very first series, back in 1981, which we’ve never seen before, and frankly, they’re terrifying – it had a budget of about a fiver, and looks like it’s been knocked up in Jim’s garage, with the contestants sitting on manky old sofas. And they show the title sequence, where Bully looks like he’s been drawn with somebody’s foot. It really is incredibly creepy.


01.35 Annie Hall
A wonderful, funny, poignant, bitter-sweet classic from Woody. Christ, we sound like FM radio.


06.00 Bagpuss
Of course, RI:SE is off until the end of January now, so expect more of this stuff in the meanwhile. And in six months’ time when it gets axed, of course.

13.10 The Prince and the Pauper
This is our favourite version of this old chestnut – Oliver Reed and Charlton Heston star, David Hemmings is dead nasty in a pathetic kind of way, George C Scott is splendidly moody as The Ruffer and the rest of the cast include Dudley ‘CFF’ Sutton, Ruth Madoc, Graham ‘did I ever tell you I knew Peter Sellers’ Stark and Don ‘Paradise Club’ Henderson.

15.20 Jason and the Argonauts
“Again with the skeletons!” – Peter Tomlinson, Tiswas Trailertime, passim.


20.00 Sean Connery: A Close-Up
Probably the most famous bearded man around Christmas time, he’s a profile of Mr Canary bought in from somewhere or other.


13.00 Desmond Carrington
Music to be reminded of laboured running gags from 12 months ago to.

15.00 Russell Davies
Probably the place to go if you’re after ‘I’m Gonna Lassoo Santa Claus’, ‘I Want The South To Win The War For Christmas’, or ‘Jack Frost Get Lost’. Plus he’s interviewing Carly Simon, the only person to successfully work the word “sneezes” into a poignant love ballad.

23.00 The David Jacobs Collection
Following on from Dave’s memorable rap about the Mobo Awards earlier this year, we were equally gripped to hear his recent soliloquy about the “delightful” Pop Idol and the vocal attributes of the female contestants, which was only topped by an even more recent anecdote involving returning someone’s dinner shirt after first borrowing it 23 years ago. If he plays Mel Torme’s version of ‘The Christmas Song’ tonight all will be well with the world.


16.00 Open Book
Mariella Frostrup, who at least had the decency to appear as herself to promote Freeview, chairs a discussion on the merits – of which there are infinite – and drawbacks – of which there are none – of celebrity memoirs. You’d think the man Monkhouse would be a shoo-in here, but it’s Alan Titchmarsh and Frank Skinner who are “around the table”. Boo.

Monday 23rd December


08.10 Blue Peter
One of the best things BP did this year was the Out-Takes Special over the summer, which included loads of brilliant stuff we’d never seen before, such as Sarah Greene drying up on her first show and looking absolutely mortified, Chris Wenner completely messing up a description of CSO, and Yvette Fielding getting very confused while trying to explain the plot of Gruey. We assume this is a repeat, although it doesn’t say that down here, so there’s every chance it could be a brand new collection. Either way, it’s worth a look.

11.15 Santa Claus – the Movie
Dudley Moore is subjected to more indignities with this uncalled-for reshowing of a film so dire there’s no humour to be had in its shortcomings. Burgess Meredith, Melvyn Hayes, Don Estelle, Christopher ‘Mike’ Ryan and John ‘Mallens’ Hallam are also implicated. Sheena Easton and the immortal Kaja provide the soundtrack. “The suit’s gone back to Burton’s!” Now, Filmguide have done many things that they feel (rightly) ashamed about, but not many more so than being able to say that they saw this in the cinema. twice.

16.35 Christmas at the Club Blue Peter
There are programmes other than BP on at Christmas, honest. This is the Christmas panto, which seems to be turning into a modern-day All Star Record Breakers, as a load of other CBBC people have cameo roles in it. It’s an hour long, which we like, and Matt wears a great big fat suit all the way through it, which is fun.

23.35 Scrooged
It’s customary when reviewing this Bill Murray Christmas Carol remake to say that the first part is great but then it turns poor in the second half. We must have read this a dozen times but of course yer actual critics never point out when this is supposed to happen. It’s academic though, as we don’t like any of it except for Robert Mitchum insisting that programmes cater for pets as well as humans, which we fear is not a comedy moment but a shrewdly observed satire on focus groups. Once again we have to hold up our hands and say that we also saw this at the pictures – though just the once this time – and were hugely embarrassed by the bit at the end when Bill Murray was supposed to be getting the audience to sing along but was actually just shouting at the backs of the half dozen people who were in the hall getting out before the traffic got bad. Humbug.

01.15 Father Dear Father
And so to BBC1’s eagerly awaited sitcom spinoff season. All the big hitters (Steptoe, Buses, Likely Lads) are present and correct, save for Porridge which was bagsied by Channel Four a couple of years back. No real obscurities, aside from this adaptation of Patrick Cargill’s undistinguished Thames series, featuring Richard O’Sullivan, Beryl Reid and Donald Sinden, and auteured by no less than William G Stewart.


11.40 Hell is for Heroes
This Steve McQueen war hokum is something of an exercise in quirky casting featuring as it does Bob ‘The Driving Instructors’ Newhart, Bobby Darin, James ‘teeth’ Coburn and Don ‘in joke’ Haggerty.

20.30 The Good Life
Take a wild guess.

21.00 Cruise Of The Gods
Now this is interesting; it’s a one-off comedy film starring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, but it’s included here because they play the stars of a cult sci-fi series from the seventies who meet up at a convention organised by the show’s fan club. The great David Walliams plays their number one fan, and looking at the pictures, he seems to have got the character just right.

00.25 I Love 1982
Travis, Read and Vance present this show from a mock-up Top of the Pops studio, so it’s clearly great, and there are features about Bananarama and Musical Youth as well. The latter includes a clip of a moustachioed Richard Whitmore announcing on News After Noon that they’re number one, which is interesting for those who claim the news is ‘dumbing down’ – you wouldn’t get Peter Sissons giving us the movers and shakers in the Top Forty, would you?


13.05 The Bible… in the Beginning
John Huston uses the superlative craftsmen and technicians of Rome’s Cinecitta in its prime (good), and loads of distinctly non-Cream Italian actors (not so good) to play out the book of Genesis, from Adam to Abraham, so you get Richard ‘MacArthur’ Harris as Cain to Franco ‘Django’ Nero’s Abel, that sort of thing. As you’d expect from the zaniest religious text in existence, it goes completely bizarre in places, from the odd Eden opening (with distractingly fortuitous placement of foreground foliage, natch), through a slapstick-heavy Noah segment (with Huston himself as the man), to Peter O’Toole in a conveniently badly-lit Sodom. Still, good to see this little-shown, and frankly loopy, Biblical effort get chosen for a seasonal outing over the ponderous likes of King of Kings.

21.30 Z Cars – After They Were Famous
This is the latest in the series that basically takes the opportunity to show a load of clips from the show in question, and then actually discusses what happened to the stars near the end. Brian Blessed, Frank Windsor and James Ellis appear, as does Colin Welland, and we’re hoping that as it’s made by Yorkshire, we’ll get clips of that In Bed With MeDinner fave, How To Stay Alive.

00.50 Twelve Angry Men
“Does Magna Carta mean nothing to you? Did she die in vain? The brave Hungarian peasant girl who forced King John to sign the pledge at Runnymede and close the boozers at half past ten.” Unfortunately this isn’t the Hancock version but no matter, it’s the classic one with Henry Fonda, Martin ‘gesundheit’ Balsam et al deliberating the case and getting all hot and bothered.


12.10 Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger
Here’s a canonical conundrum for the Christmas dinner table. What’s more bizarre, the various Harryhausen pin-sharp creatures (including a sabre-tooth tiger and a slightly iffy walrus, ‘working out which Sinbad film is which by the monsters’ fans), or Jane Seymour being presented as Patrick Troughton’s daughter? Because (and we’re thinking here of The Two of Us), with regard to the Troughton canon, that would mean she’s not only Nicholas Lyndhurst’s aunt, but Paul ‘Newsround/Porridge’ McDowell’s sister. A-and in that same unfunny programme, he ‘regenerated’ into Tenniel Evans, while simultaneously fighting alongside him in civil war-speculating sci-fi Knights of God! At *exactly* the same time as Nicholas Lyndhurst was battling on opposing sides to Jane Seymour in civil war-justifying silliness The Grand Knockout Tournament! Which was featured in a Newsround special report, most likely read out by Paul McDowell! Although Newsround probably isn’t ‘canon’. Or maybe it is! Pass us that sheet of graph paper, would you? It’s hard work being a Whovian.

14.15 Flash Gordon
Now *here’s* a Christmas film, at least we think so ever since it was shown on Christmas Eve in, we reckon oooooh, about 1984. It’s tremendous stuff and makes nonsense of the notion that only recently have comic book big screen transfers been any good, since this knocks spots of the lot of ’em. Max ‘Tim Tyler’ von Sydow is about to destroy the Earth (although admittedly the reasons are a little confused; at the outset it’s just for a bit of fun but then it turns out to be Topol’s fault) but is thwarted by Sam J Jones with help from Brian Blessed, Timothy Dalton, Stanley ‘Howard Hughes’ Lebor who are in turn frustrated by Peter ‘Jason King’ Wyngarde on absolute tip-top form as Klytus. It’s a film that lends itself to being quoted copiously, and we do, we do. Oh, and there’s that soundtrack an’ all which, in pre-video days, made Top Of The Pops extra exciting ‘cos there were film clips in the video.

18.10 The Man Who Would Be King
We’ve spent years being told how good this film is; John Huston this, Michael Caine that, Sean Connery yadda-yadda-yadda. Frankly though, we don’t like it. So there.

21.00 The Real Michael Caine
If Phil Cornwell isn’t in this then we’ll be very surprised. There’ll also be the usual clips, and a discussion as to whether he’s right to claim that he doesn’t get enough recognition in the UK. Well, he gets enough documentaries.

22.40 Mona Lisa
Ailing ex-con Bob Hoskins ferries ‘tall thin black tart’ Cathy Tyson around the East End until Michael Caine catches up with them. With Robbie Coltrane, Joe ‘’ Brown, Jeremy ‘Helping Henry’ Hardy and good old Zoot ‘Lotterby’ Money.

05.55 The Magic Roundabout


11.00 Topranko!
In Granadaland we’ve had the dubious pleasure of seeing Anthony H Wilson present Granada Reports every night, reading the news in a ridiculously idiosyncratic way – but he’s still not as good as Gordon Burns on North West Tonight. He’s also not very good in this game show, of which Channel Five are showing previously unseen (ie, dropped) episodes most days at this time.

13.15 Scrooge (’70)
It’s the Albert Finney one with songs.

23.55 Finders Keepers, Lovers Weepers
A Godawful Russ Meyer one-handed production, alas, and nothing to to with the erstwhile High Sheriff of Surrey or rejigged computer battleships.


12.00 Brian Hayes Review Of 2002
Now this’ll be interesting, because this is always a compilation of interviews off the Jimmy Young Programme from the preceding 12 months, except of course Jim wasn’t around for at least half of them, and now he’s buggered off. Will he have been airbrushed out of history, a la so many Big Breakfast presenters, after being given the push?

Radio 4

14.15 The Afternoon Play: Blue Veils And Golden Sands
Bloody hell, it’s a play about the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, to be precise the life and work of Delia “dilettante” Darbyshire, and there’s someone in it called “Ron Grainer”. Lucky we’re still at work today.

Christmas Eve


14.00 Blue Peter
Our Creamguide Choice, as detailed up there.

00.50 Carry On Cleo
Back after an astonishing absence from our screens of about, oooooh, three weeks in some regions, this is at least one of the better ones and all the more seasonal from our point of view because when we did Latin at school (we know, we know) the teacher used to let us watch this on our last period before Christmas.

02.25 Fame, Set and Match
The Band Aid episode, with signing, which isn’t really about Band Aid much at all. Instead it simply tells the stories of Spandau Ballet, Boy George and Sting, which are all quite good fun. Alas Robert Elms is in it, going on and on about how the Spands are great and it’s all thanks to him, while George is represented by an amusingly vague Marilyn, and Sting’s got a ‘friend’ from Newcastle who correctly points out that all his films have been shit. And they play The Great Song Of Indifference by Bob Geldof – ‘That was very funny.’ ‘It wasn’t meant to be funny.’


13.50 They Were Expendable
John Wayne pulls out of the Philippines in this ponderous WWII gunghorama.

18.10 White Christmas
Binnnng! *That* film, *that* song, *that* ‘little known’ factlet that it first appeared in the earlier Holiday Inn. Not to be confused with the Is-Sir-Percival Inn. Oh dear.

21.35 Porridge
Now this is scheduling at it’s best. Here we’ve got ‘No Way Out’, which of course is fantastic, but just *look* at what Channel Four are showing at the same time.

22.15 Have Yourself A Very Eighties Christmas
‘This week’s number one is… on the back of my jacket!’ Repeat outing for the fun documentary from last year about Christmas records, with loads of great archive footage, like The Housemartins on Breakfast Time. However they do claim that Saving All My Love For You by Whitney was Christmas number one in 1985, which is balls, it was Shakey – but actually that means that Caravan Of Love wasn’t Christmas number one the following year, it was actually Reet Petite. So swings and roundabouts, really.

23.55 I Love 1983
We’ll mention it again, that this is the episode which Garry Bushell slagged off because it didn’t feature the launch of the pound coin and the introduction of wheelclamps. And how much material can you get out of those two, Bluto? The idiot. And look, instead we’ve got Roland Rat presenting and an item on legwarmers, which is loads better. Remember not to stay up to watch it, though, or Santa won’t come.


13.45 The Greatest Story Ever Told
Max ‘Tim Tyler’ von Sydow is Jesus, Charlton ‘you maniacs!’ Heston is J the B. “Godspell this ain’t!” – B Norman passim. If you watch one overblown religious epic this Christmas, make it Monday’s demented The Bible… in the Beginning. Although what this lacks in entertainment value it picks up in post-Newberry Fruits cameo-spotting, with David ‘Invisible’ McCallum, Roddy ‘the Apes series’ McDowall, Angela ‘I’ll be bubblin’ Lansbury, Telly ‘a flick of my Bic’ Savalas, Donald ‘formerly an Easter tradition’ Pleasence, Pat ‘Twixt Twelve and Twenty’ Boone, Martin ‘let’s shoot this fucker’ Landau, Carroll ‘Baby Doll’ Baker, Sidney ‘Dinner’ Poitier, John ‘son of Gaaaahd’ Wayne, Shelley ‘learn to swim’ Winters, Jamie ‘Klinger’ Farr and David ‘Voyage’ Hedison.

17.15 Family Misfortunes
We were particularly disappointed to see that the Andrew Collins billed as the new presenter of Family Fortunes is not the one we’re thinking of, but some charmless loud-mouthed cockney. But never fear, Les is back (unless they’re re-recorded it with that idiot) with this repeat of the compilation of ha-ha-hilarious moments. And Max and Lord Bob are in it too. ‘Jimmy MacFee!’

01.10 Harvey
Yay! Jimmy’s back, to show fifth-form crap like Donnie Darko where to get off, giant rabbit film-wise. If you can’t be smart, be pleasant…


06.50 Father Christmas
Creamguide’s mum and sister have to watch this every year, without fail, although they may have a job catching it this time round. It’s still great, though.

07.20 At the Earth’s Core
Up bright and early (ah, nothing says Christmas holidays like films starting at seven o’clock, eh?) for this well-worn McClure-starring Edgar Rice Burroughs adaptation, sandwiched in between Land that Time Forgot and People…, colloquially known as “the one with the exploding rubber pterodactyls which make a sort of backwards bell noise when they blink”. Peter Cushing is the aimiable prof behind the Thunderbirds-plagiarising drilling machine, taking Doug and himself beneath the Earth’s crust to a suspiciously temperate and fibreglassy sub-prehistoric environment peopled by semi-articulate fur-wearers, notably 321 hostess Caroline Munro, with the usual capture-escape plot dynamic ensuing before a light-hearted re-emergence outside the White House, complete with double-taking policemen. Cy ‘topical calypso’ Grant, Keith ‘Amy!’ Barron and Robert ‘you’re supposed to overtake her and wave, not half-kill her!’ Gillespie feature, and Cushing uses the same “you can’t hypnotise me – I’m British!” gag he delivered in Horror Express on BBC1 a few weeks back.

13.00 The Karate Kid
Wax on, wax off, Daniel-san, classic cars, chopsticks and flies and that scarecrow kick thing – you know you’ll watch it.

15.10 The Snowman
It’s the twentieth anniversary, of course, and for the first time the person who actually sung Walking In The Air – who isn’t Aled Jones, of course – is going to get billed in the credits. We’re still not going to watch it, though.

20.15 Porridge
I mean, look! But this may well be rescheduled. Still, as predicted in last week’s ‘Guide, Old Faithful returns bang on festive cue. A cut above the normal sitcom-to-film transfer (we’re looking at you, Rising Damp), and actually a cut above the typical British film of its time an’ all, we’d say. Filmed mostly at Chelmsford Prison – abandoned temporarily due to fire damage – the plot revolved around the arrangement of a celebrity football match to serve as a cover for the breakout of armed robber Oakes, serving time for his last big ‘tickle’ and all put together by Grouty. But anyway, plot be damned: stand still you men there! Geoffrey ‘Catweazle’ Bayldon, a trussed-up Gorden ‘Allo’ Kaye, Karl ‘Strokes’ Howman, Paul ‘Brothers MacGregor’ Barber, Jackie ‘Grapple’ Pallo, Paul McDowell – yes, Paul McDowell, Duncan ‘Mr Clifford’ Preston, Derek ‘Ringo’ Deadman, Daniel ‘Back Page’ Peacock, Zoot ‘Mr Moonlight’ Money, the National Express jingle and are you ready to do the Listerine sloosh? From Ian Dury’s Rhythm Stick intro to Joe ‘It’s locked up in my ‘ead!’ Brown’s alternative theme song it’s a belter. I said a *dash*, Lotterby!

00.35 Fairy Tale Of New York
The problem with Simon Mayo being on Five Live, of course, is that he can’t play Christmas Wrapping by The Waitresses anymore, or any of his ‘comedy’ carols, or, indeed, Fairy Tale Of New York. But at least we get to see this documentary explaining the story of the song.

05.45 Bagpuss
Parents! Annoy your early-rising kids by making them watch this.


09.00 Hugo the Hippo
“He walks like an elephant/He swims like a whale/His head’s like a pail/It’s pathetic!” Credit to Channel 5 for, if nothing else, unearthing this from a charity shop VHS punnet, as we don’t think this sub-Yellow Submarine animated tale of a friendly hippo employed to catch sharks off the coast of Zanzibar and subsequently threatened with death has seen the light of day since BBC2 offered it up as a welcome alternative to the main channels’ coverage of Charles and Di’s marriage service back in ’81. Based on a true story, apparently, full of ad-hoc plot digressions, rather floridly animated, and boasting decidedly odd songs such as Zing Zong and Mister M’Bow-Wow sung by Marie and Little Jimmy Osmond, ably supported by Robert ‘Bricks’ Morley and, er, Burl Ives. Actually, we’re beginning to see why no-one’s touched it in 20 years.

14.05 Action in the North Atlantic
Bogie on a boat. For more floating Bogies switch to Channel Five this evening.

20.00 Casablanca
“And the question mark at the end leaves it open for a sequel!”

22.00 The Caine Mutiny
Five seem to be following the trend for off-topic Xmas Eve films, a trail blazed by BBC1 in 1988 with Jagged Edge (and discussed here: but this isn’t that bad for all that. Though it would be better if Fred McMurray wasn’t in it, ‘cos we just plain can’t stand ‘im.


12.00 30 Years Of Jimmy Young On Radio 2
Well, we’re not the types who are going to choose to couch this billing solely from a perspective of growling unceasingly about how it’s not 30 years but 29 blah blah blah. Yet it’s interesting how the official publicity is talking of this as a tribute to someone “who has retired” rather than “who is retiring”, which is the convention. With someone like Parky in charge you might have expected a more salient grip on the facts, the kind you might find demonstrated by, oooh, a journalist, say?

20.30 Vivat Milligna – A Tribute To Spike Milligan
Much more worthwhile reminiscence guaranteed here, courtesy of Denis “fuck” Norden, who seems to be becoming, unlike his peers, not more bitter but more lucid and relevant as he heads deeper into his 80s. And with him in charge it’ll be the proper deal, with Milligan’s talents ascribed not to a load of sociological gainsaying about how “Spike was mad therefore he was a genius”, but the fact he could write good jokes. Except when he had to call Bob Monkhouse in to help salvage a show called, ahem, Hip-Hip-Hoo-Roy.

Christmas Day


11.15 The Morecambe and Wise Christmas Show
Used to be that Christmas wasn’t Christmas without a new Eric and Ern show. Now Christmas isn’t Christmas without a repeated Eric and Ern show. There’s no need to explain much about this, all you need to know is it’s 1973, and that means Vanessa Redgrave, Yehudi Menuin, Rudolf Nureyev, Laurence Olivier and The New Seekers. They might get edited out, though.

14.00 Top Of The Pops
Back to the traditional pre-Queen slot for the first time since 1994, fact fans. Of course, for a lot of people, this is the only time of the year when they actually watch Top of the Pops, and so they don’t know how bloody awful the programme is at the moment, with a truly dreadful presenter line-up (Cawood, Snowden, Blackwood and Bonnin), and the useless Star Bar, which is the worst idea in the world. And they play the Christmas number one halfway through the show now, which is just not on.

15.00 The Queen
“Ooh, she’s showing her age.”

16.20 Outtake TV
As we hinted last week, there’s no Tel on telly this Christmas, as Auntie’s Bloomers is no more! Instead it’s been completely revamped, given an even crappier new name, and has a new host in Paul O’Grady. Exactly what this complete revamp consists of, we’re not sure. But here it is anyway.

21.40 Only Fools and Horses
Frankly, it’s a bit of a weak Christmas Day line-up – we’ve got an hour-long Ground Force at half past seven, for a start. And if last year’s Only Fools outing is anything to go by, we’re not holding out much hope for this, either. Perhaps John Sullivan has forgotten that sitcoms are allowed to last just thirty minutes if they want.

01.10 Steptoe and Son
We’ve got a signed copy of Wilfred Brambell’s autobiography on the mantelpiece by the Filmguide fireplace (oh yes, we do) which has a brilliant still photograph of Steptoe Sr. himself standing naked in the bath screaming and covering his, ahem, modesty with a packet of Flash. It always makes us laugh and reminds us that this is actually a great film that stands well on its merits quite separately from the TV series. It’s not as good as Steptoe and Son Ride Again (see below) some of us would contend, mainly because this doesn’t have Diana Dors and Milo O’Shea in it, but it’s a welcome addition to the feature-sitcom strand. Why aren’t they putting on Up Pompeii, we wonder?


17.00 Bing Crosby: In His Own Words
‘Hi, I’m David Bowie, I live down the road.’

17.50 It’s a Wonderful Life
We won’t bother discussing this in depth other than to convey the interesting fact that this was a disaster on its cinema release and nearly ruined Frank Capra. However, since the studio didn’t make any allowance for TV rights in its contracts US cable channels showed it constantly until people were a) convinced b) browbeaten into realising it was a truly great film. And it is.

00.40 I Love 1984
By this point of the series, the show was overloaded was pundits, with most only getting a few words out before we cut to someone else. And given the length of time Mark Steel got in the 90s series, that’s all to the good. One of the best, this, and even though Holly Johnson’s presenting we don’t get much about Relax at all, which is refreshing. Instead we get the Care Bears, which we were certainly nuts about in 1984, and also the fantastic Paul Morley/Robert Elms spat, which is just the funniest thing ever. ‘It was a great moment when Robert Elms appeared on the cover of The Face saying, have you heard of this new music called jazz?’


13.00 The Waltons – After They Were Famous
Repeat (obviously, as it’s ITV on Christmas Day) of a show we didn’t see the first time. And so we can’t tell you anything about it other than it features The Waltons, after they were famous. Well, that’s more than you get from TV Quick.

15.10 Thunderball
Two years ago, we marvelled at ITV’s barefaced admission of festive defeat when they answered the Beeb’s Xmas afternoon volley of Titanic with… Octopussy. Last year, things got even more ridiculous with the profoundly unseasonal (see below for details) The Great Escape. This year, we’re favoured with this, the first ropey Bond in the series, with great underwater production design from Ken Adam, a cameo from Leonard ‘Good Old Days’ Sachs, and unintelligible villainy from Adolfo ‘Borgias’ Celi. We know the channel’s had a terrible year and everything, but some semblance of an effort wouldn’t be too difficult, would it? They could always revive Star Games. Can you name the Bond girl and singer of the theme? Claudine Auger and Tom Jones – respectively, alas. Still, we only get two Bonds over the Chrissy break, which, considering the double-overkill of the past few months, we should be thankful for.

22.55 Jaws
Some rubbish about a fish (inedible).


06.00 The Clangers

08.05 Snow Business: The Story Of The Snowman
They don’t show the version with an introduction by David Bowie anymore, do they? Of course, The Snowman always used to be on Christmas Day itself, which would mean your parents would always go ‘Oh, we must watch The Snowman’, and then forget about it when they got distracted by Back To The Future or Russ Abbot. This documentary discusses how it was made, and it’s legacy, chatting to Raymond Briggs and Aled – who, of course, had nothing to do with it – amongst others.

15.15 Death on the Nile
New Poirot, same old slog through the suspects. On every Christmas at this time.

20.05 John Osborne: Angry Man
Nice scheduling by Channel Four tonight, who seem to be going for an Osbournes theme, so you’ve got two episodes of the overrated series, and Sharon delivering the Alternative Christmas Message, and then this. Even though his name is spelt differently.

22.55 The Real Derek and Clive
The Fame, Set and Match documentary on Pete and Dud the other week didn’t tell us much about the Derek and Clive stuff, other than they were a bit rude and Pete was a bit of a bastard when they were recording them. Here’s a slightly more considered look at the albums.

00.35 Top Ten Stadium Rock
Top Ten TV was one of the biggest disappointments of the year – apart from the one that featured the Radio Cream Times editor, of course – so it’s just as well they’re rerunning some of the music episodes over the next week or so to remind us that it’s actually a bloody good series. First up we’ve got Alice Cooper telling the amusingly outlandish stories of Motley Crue, Kiss and Van Halen. The best bit is in the Poison section, with everyone shaking the heads and shuddering at the time when they decided to start being proper musicians and writing their own songs.


09.00 Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird
Bizarre feature length CTW outing, with enough Cookie Monster/Super Grover/Roscoe ‘Gordon’ Orman business to offset the dreary central “Big Bird leaves home” plot.

21.00 The First of the Few
You’d think that with it being Christmas and all they’d lay off the war films, but they’re here in fair numbers as usual. Still at least this has David Niven in it, which almost makes up for Candleshoe not being on.

23.20 Operation Daybreak
A rather chilling account of the assassination of Reichsmarshal Heydrich, the chap portrayed by Kenneth Branagh in Conspiracy earlier in the year. With Martin Shaw and Joss Ackland. Another Christmas favourite from ‘five’.


10.00 Wogan’s Christmas
The old “oh no, we’re not on tape” gets its umpteenth airing while Tel moans about Ken Livingstone, Dr. Wally speculates that the studio turkey “tastes like chicken”, Boggy is blamed for it not being a white Christmas, Deadly sings a new version of ‘Doin’ The Lambeth Walk’ with lyrics sent in by a listener about the number of repeats on the telly, and everybody leers at Fran Godfrey’s breasts. 30 years ago to the very day this was on TV.

12.00 Round The Horne
“Why have you strapped me to this operating table?” “Call it an old man’s whim.” “Alright – why have you strapped me to this old man’s whim?” The traditional re-airing for Master Kenneth and co, though this time by way of tribute to Barry Took, one of those people whose picture will be shown at next year’s BAFTA’s while the audience chats, burps and guffaws in the background.

12.30 The Monkhouse Archive Christmas Box
“My mother wasn’t the greatest cook. Some women, they cook a turkey and it tastes even better the day after. Hers tasted better the day before.”
13.00 Christmas Pick Of The Pops
It’s back to the old days, seemingly, when they didn’t advertise what the years were and so kept us guessing right up to the show’s opening seconds and Dale’s needling clubland patter. Bastards. Odds on it’ll be a dull early 1960s one and an interminable mid-70s countdown, however, when what we want is the 1980s and nothing but!

20.00 All Roads Lead To Lonnie
Another dearly departed. His picture won’t even be at the BAFTAs.

Boxing Day


22.55 Before They Were Famous
Oh, never mind who’s presenting it. This is the seventh programme, and as you’d expect, there isn’t quite the material there used to be, but there’s normally some ace stuff in it – like year we got David Backham on It’s Wicked, which was worth tuning in for alone. And maybe they’ll finally include Kelly Brook on Fist Of Fun, which we wrote to them about two years ago.

23.35 Airplane II: the Sequel
“What the hell does this do? I mean it can’t just flash and beep, surely?” William Shatner joins the crew and tries to get a piece of Leslie Nielsen’s action, but not being funny doesn’t manage it.

01.00 Steptoe and Son Ride Again
A more satisfactory addition to the Steptoe canon this time round, with Hercules the horse going lame and Harold being conned by Frankie Barrow – the godfather of Shepherd’s Bush – into buying a greyhound, Hercules the Second, instead. Of course, it’s blind, they lose and things go hi-hi-lariously wrong. There’s a lot of plot crammed into this Nat Cohen production but it is probably the archetypal Cream film, packed as it is with dog tracks, Watney’s Party Sevens, pickled onions, mosaic fronted Burton’s in the High Street, Cecil Gee’s and Diana Dors, Milo ‘Me Mammy’ O’Shea, Bill ‘Gaffer’ Maynard, Yootha ‘Me Mammy’ Joyce, Sam ‘Orlando’ Kydd, Henry ‘Arthur Sultan’ Woolf, Geoffrey ‘Catweazle’ Bayldon and Frank ‘Peacock’ Thornton. A Bombay shitehawk would have left more on it than that.


13.35 In Harm’s Way
A cut above the usual war fare (geddit?) with John Wayne, Kirk Douglas, Stanley Holloway playing an Australian, Burgess Meredith – reclaiming his dignity after Santa Claus: The Movie, the other day – and Slim Pickens.

16.15 Steptoe and Son
Interesting scheduling here, as this episode comes between showings of the two films, and manages to make them look even weaker than they actually are.

16.45 Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em
Some of these sitcom specials are becoming as much as a fixture over the festive season as The Snowman, we’re sure this episode with David Jacobs has been on every Christmas for about a decade. And it’s slightly odd, too, because he appears in a scene at the end that has little to do with the rest of the programme, almost as if it was underrunning and they had to make something up at the last minute.

21.30 Arena: Radio Ha!
Two documentaries about radio comedy, of varying quality. The first is completely ludicrous, as it’s about Dead Ringers, and quite why this derivate, unfunny show deserves any sort of coverage, let alone on Arena, is completely beyond us. This could well be the series’ lowest point. Thankfully, at 22.30 it gets loads better with a programme celebrating the 35th anniversary of Just A Minute. Presumably it’ll regurgitate one of the few facts we know about the programme – Ian Messiter first tried out the concept in One Minute Please, a slightly different version that went out a few years beforehand, which he intended to go under the same name but the BBC refused because they though the phrase ‘Just A Minute’ was too informal.

00.30 I Love 1985
Oddest bit about this episode, fronted by Grace Jones, is that it the opening montage includes a mention of American Football, but in the end a feature about the sport never actually turns up in this, or any other, episode. Hmmm.


11.25 Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Noted here only because of the strangely prominent appearance of Anton ‘Hester!’ Rogers.

17.25 Mary Poppins
Upon hearing those words, all critical faculty (such as we possessed in the first place, leastways) goes out the window. They could put this on every day and we’d love it, to be honest. Good old Nackvid Keyd!

00.15 Some Like it Hot
Once again, we can only sit about and grin inanely. “A very good film,” you may infer.

02.20 Forever
Inevitably, the subject is Christmas, so it’s rather unfortunate that it’s going out at a time when we’d have spent the last fortnight listening to Slade and Wizzard non-stop and never want to hear them again. Incidentally, the official video for Merry Christmas Everybody by Slade is a clip of them performing on Granada’s Pop Goes Christmas in 1983, which is a bit weird because you get to see the presenters and everything.

03.15 It Happened in Rome
Feather light hitchhiking romp through various panoramic Italian locations with Vittorio ‘Bicycle Thieves’ de Sica and James Robertson ‘bleeding time’ Justice in walk-on parts.


11.05 The Royal Institution Christmas Lectures
This is supposed to be a Christmas tradition, of course, but when was the last time you actually watched them? Still, this year they’re about molecular technology and how it’s used in constructions, so it could be a bit like Think Of A Number.

14.55 Oliver!
Of course after Fame Set and Match the other week we shall be watching this merely to judge the varying heights of Jack Wilde’s instep as the film progresses.

05.55 Clangers


19.40 Tommy Cooper’s Christmas
It’s Nostalgia Night on Five, which is basically them realising that they’ve got access to the Thames archive and thus have a load of half-decent Christmas shows sitting in the archives. It might actually be a bit more interesting than the predictable fare on the Beeb, if only because ITV tend not to exploit their archive very much so you don’t normally see much of this stuff. So first up we’ve got Tom, first seen on Christmas Day 1973, then…

20.40 The Morecambe and Wise Christmas Show
We bet they’ll cut out ‘Here they come now…’, though. This is from 1981, when Eddie Braben had joined the boys at Thames, so the script had improved somewhat, although they did have to banter with Alvin Stardust and Susanne Danielle. Mind you, Sir Rich Ralphardson and Robert Hardy are there as well. And of course this was originally transmitted on December 23rd 1981, not necessarily because they weren’t good enough to go on Christmas Day anymore, but rather because Christmas Day was on a Friday and thus LWT was in charge, not Thames. You’d have thought Eric and Ern would have realised that before they signed, wouldn’t you?

21.40 Carry On Christmas
They used to do one of these every year, transferring the films into a TV studio. This is the show from 1972, although there’s no Sid James, Kenneth Williams or Charles Hawtrey, alas.

22.45 Stanley Baxter’s Christmas Box
From 1976, back when the budget for one of his shows was about the same as the current annual budget for the whole of Channel Five’s entertainment department.

23.50 Confessions of a Driving Instructor
Third of the four-strong Askwithian series, with yer cheeky protagonist and old Noggit Booth using a rather unconvincing driving school ploy to fill the gaps between the comedy noise-punctuated ‘naughty’ set-pieces. The usual moose head-decorated family household with Sheila ‘Billy Dainty Esq’ White, Doris ‘Comrade Dad’ Hare, Bill ‘Froggit’ Maynard is there as usual, and that all-important jobbing cast runs thus – Windsor ‘trousers, and that is all’ Davies, Liz ‘Double Bunk’ Fraser, Irene ‘Fruitbat’ Handl, George ‘Pigeon’ Layton, Lynda ‘Preston’ Bellingham, Avril ‘Odd Man Out’ Angers, Ballard ‘Morning, Fawlty!’ Berkeley, Suzy ‘Benny Hill’ Mandel, John ‘Loose Ends’ Junkin, Geoffrey ‘Yates’ Hughes, Donald ‘Hot Mum’ Hewlett and Lewis ‘tortoise’ Collins. Just to show we’re not letting any new year’s resolutions change our doggedly one-note style, we’re once again soliciting you, the Creamguide-skimming public, for rotten ’70s sexcoms C5 have still to root out. We’re personally up for the ambitious, post-modern Eskimo Nell, the non-canon (though paradoxically starring Tony Booth) Confessions from the David Galaxy Affair, the equally non-canon (though unpalatably starring Roger ‘Trigger’ Lloyd-Pack and Vicki ‘Prince Andrew’ Hodge) Confessions of a Sex Maniac, the Barry ‘Language’ Evans-in-multiple-roles masterpiece that is Under the Doctor, and maybe I’m Not Feeling Myself Tonight, if only because it’s high in Creamguide favourite actors, including Brian ‘Wizadora’ Murphy, James ‘Kenny Ames, you know, Ally Fraser’s dodgy mate with the yacht in series two of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet’ Booth, Graham ‘and then there’s a charming scene when the fire brigade crane plays host to a brass band serenading the two girls’ Stark, and – bien sur – Marianne Stone. Any more for anymore? The usual address, please.


12.00 Round The Horne
“As it’s the first in a new series, we’ll begin with the answers to last week’s competition.” Plenty of things great about this, of course, but perhaps the best is how it always sounds like Ken had simply invited his mates round for a laugh, and that they were having as much fun doing the gags and puns as we were listening to them. We must have it.


20.00 The Decade Of Self Doubt
Yikes. A bit of 1970s verbiage to clean out the arteries, as Ian “Moral Maze” Hargreaves re-assesses the legacy of the decade from his own rarefied ivory tower. One for the 6th form debating societies.


21.00 It’s A Wonderful Life
Veteran golf commentator Tony Adamson is relinquishing his mike in order to host a tribute to his own life working for the BBC. Expect Wogan to turn up and hijack proceedings canvassing for Peter Alliss to become the next Director General.

Friday 27th December


17.35 The World’s Strongest Man
So presumably when Michael Grade left the ban was lifted, yes? And John Inverdale is still presenting it, which is not right at all.

20.30 Outtake TV
The second set of Bloomers over the holiday, and you never know, O’Grady might be quite good at this sort of thing. Maybe.

21.55 Billy Connolly – A Bafta Tribute
Yes, even after those abysmal Lotto adverts the Academy think he’s still worthy of a tribute. In the past this would have been a Variety Club lunch, but now Jeremy Irons, Robin Williams and Judi Dench deliver their tributes in a proper television studio as part of a proper show. And there might be some funny clips here, too, if Parky shuts up for two minutes.

00.55 Morons from Outer Space
Oh dear. It’s a sobering thought – not least also a damning indictment. of something – to think that the idiots who perpetrated this atrocity are now all multi-millionaire media giants. Hey-ho.


12.20 Butterflies
Are they only allowed to show this at Christmas now?

12.50 Steptoe and Son
This scheduling would make anyone think you were just flinging it together, BBC2.

18.05 The Horse Soldiers
Not featuring horses as soldiers, sadly, but John Wayne and William Holden

20.00 The Joy Of Gardening
Now there was a show with this title last year, which we remember because Dean Holdsworth and Graeme Le Saux were in it, but this is apparently brand new. It’s the same sort of thing, though, and we’re almost prepared to call it I Love Gardening, because it features celebrities reminsicing about what they like to do in their backyards, mixed in with comedy clips.

00.00 I Love 1986
Best of the lot as far as we’re concerned, including an almost textbook piece on Sigue Sigue Sputnik – Steve Wright and Paul Jordan introducing them on Top of the Pops, Martin Degville on TVam, and John Craven discussing the adverts (‘i-D Magazine, a cliche crusher for the 21st century!’) on their album on Newsround. Plus there’s a great Five Star sequence including Anthea visiting their swanky house on UP2U and Eliot Fletcher’s phone call on Going Live, and best of all – No Limits Revisited! ‘I used to play it on a Casio SK1!’


10.35 The First Great Train Robbery
It’s another of Sean Connery’s ‘other’ films worth watching mostly ‘cos Michael ‘Private Shultz’ Elphick is in it.

13.50 The Great Escape
OK, let’s get this straight – TGE was always on at *Easter*, not Christmas, as various hopeless ’80s comedians used to blithely maintain, but last year ITV went and bucked tradition by sticking it on Christmas afternoon, presumably purely because of that very same myth. Well, *we’re* not playing along, you can bet on that. Oh, and – Charles Bronson tunnelling, Donald ‘perfectly’ Pleasence forging, James Coburn manufacturing, David McCallum, erm, dispersing, and Steve McQueen playing with a ball, as always. Yer *real* star of course, is Angus ‘Crossroads’ Lennie, a status gained not only by his prominence here but in his appearance in pantomime in Glasgow,1982 with Stanley le Baxter when, as he first came on as Gussie – it was Mother Goose – the band played the theme from the Great Escape and everybody cheered. except us kids of course, ‘cos we didn’t get it.

17.30 Best Ever Bond
If you thought ITV’s schedule couldn’t get anymore familiar, here’s a repeat for the show with Roger Moore introducing classic clips, first shown last month. There’s not a lot of advertising around after Christmas, is there?

04.20 The Man from Button Willow
For those who missed this odd cartoon western with the voice of Howard Keel when it was shown at roughly this time last Christmas Eve, here it is again. ITV – always thinking of the viewer.


06.55 The Trouble with Angels
Cute nun comedy with Rosalind ‘Friday’ Russell, Hayley ‘scathingly brilliant’ Mills and yer actual Gypsy Rose Lee.

11.30 The Royal Institution Christmas Lectures

16.15 Dad’s Army
Next in the sitcom canon comes this big screen version of, well, you know, and everyone’s here. It’s just a few episodes cobbled together really – natch – but is comforting viewing in a whimsical sort of way. Anyway, we like it.

05.45 Bagpuss


13.35 The Grace Kelly Story
Cheryl ‘Charlies’ Ladd is Grace. Diane ‘Black Beauty’ Ladd and Lloyd ‘sniffin glue’ Bridges are her parents. And Ian McShane is Prince Rainier! A slice of Hello!-style campness from the people who brought you Silver Spoons.

01.25 Birdy
Seventeen Mississippi! ‘Troubled’ Vietnam vet Matthew ‘Is that you, John Wayne?’ Modine lays down the ‘difficult behaviour’ guidelines for a generation of self-absorbed art students.


12.00 Round The Horne
“I hear the Germans have been issued with Tiger Moths” “Yes, but we’re being issued with Tiger Mothballs” “I didn’t know that Tiger Moths had…” “Waiter!”

19.00 The Michael Feinstein Songbook
Of course, the title gives it away, seeing as this series is nominally about other far more accomplished, popular and, well, talented songwriters, but in reality always ends up with Mike having to sing their work because of original recordings being – conveniently – “unavailable”. Special mention for tonight’s edition, though, because it’s Jimmy Webb, and thirty minutes of ‘Wichita Lineman’ would do us proud.


19.15 Front Row
A grudging acknowledgement for this half hour of hell, hosted as ever by I Know For I Am Mark Lawson, because despite the programme being entirely given over to what Lawson himself arrogantly and stupidly labels “sit-trag”, Armando Iannucci is on it hopefully being given the chance to represent I’m Alan Partridge for what it is: an above average sitcom in the finest of traditions. Unlike T** O***** which Lawson will no doubt be holding up as the greatest sodding thing since sliced bread. But then you knew we thought that.


Up in the attic of TVC Towers, in the shadow of the Wall of Fact Stacktistic and alongside the replica of Cammy Borland’s inlaws’ front room sits the unused Challenge TV desk. Pushing aside a mountain of unsold “Internet Man” keyrings, we flick a chunky switch on the underside of the desk and its bank of eight television screens kick back into life. The addition of a small sticker with a “?”carefully placed over the “TV” part of the “Challenge TV” logo, completes the job, and the Challenge section of Creamguide is back in business for another Christmas.

And how! With wall-to-wall archive programming, and almost nothing from the last 10 years of telly included, this Christmas looks set to be the best ever for Cream material. But enough about ITV (hah!), let’s see what our friends at Challenge have laid on. Of course, we’re thinking here of Challenge’s Cult Christmas selection which is a genuinely exciting line-up of old telly. At the time of writing we don’t have specific info to hand as to which editions they’ll be showing, but we’re going to stick our neck out and make a “Choice” selection from each day nonetheless. (The following are all on between 14.00 and 17.00 and repeated between 21.00 and 00.00)

Monday 23rd December
Crackerjack, Knightmare, The Adventure Game, Bullseye
OUR CHOICE: It has to be the Adventure Game – we’re hoping for Cheggers using big sandwiches to outwit the vortex, whilst Paul Darrow stabs everyone else in the back. One commentator has already expressed his hope that this won’t be a repeat from the “hugely crap series 4” which he characterises as “Uncle’s a teapot rather than an aspidistra, no Charmain Gradwell etc”. Here at TVC Towers we’ve already put aside a fortnight in 2023 to reply to the certain influx of mail asking about “the programme we saw in the early 2000s with the aspidistra in it – it always used to be followed by Carryl Varley saying: ‘Ah, hard lines to Chris Serle, there.'”

Christmas Eve
Name That Tune, The Generation Game, Sale of the Century, Winner Takes All
OUR CHOICE: Name That Tune (not to be confused with Sounds Like Music with Bobby Crush, whatever you do, don’t do that) – as long as it’s with fictional friend of the TV Cream Update, Tom O’Connor hosting. Please note this textbook polo-neck/cardigan/golf club publicity pic: Look out for the Roulette Wheel round which apparently provided the Radio Creamguide Ed with the inspiration for the Schedule Wheel, and lots of subsequent great scheduling and slotting fun here in the Creamguide offices.

Christmas Day
New Faces, Opportunity Knocks, Golden Shot
OUR CHOICE: The Golden Shot. Although we really want to see that episode with Sir Bob bigging up Gillete’s products (“he seemed like a nice guy, so I thought I’d help him out”) we’ve got a funny feeling it’s going to be Charlie Williams’ last ep – which is good stuff anyway. And if it is, watch out for the bit in the end credits which tells you where Charlie and Anne “Can’t be bad, mmmm!” Aston will be appearing on stage. “More! More! We’re here! Keep smiling all the time!”

Boxing Day
Bullseye, Crackerjack, Knightmare, Blankety Blank
OUR CHOICE: Knightmare. For the first couple of series those ace animated titles (fella on horseback, galloping up a twisting path, avoiding obstacles etc) would segue into the twisted features of Hugo Myatt as Dungeon Master Treguard Dunshelm. “Welcome, stranger!” A slight anti-climax, but still a great show – particularly with it’s oh-so Choose Your Own Adventure habit of killing off contestants because of an arbitrary choice they were forced to make five minutes previously. It went a bit wrong when a comedy element, Pickle the Elf was added to the mix. This is sword and sorcery – we don’t want comedy elements! We want killings! Er, or at least that’s what the boys from the local high school Fantasy Role-Playing Club wrote in to tell us. Thanks for your letters, Questor, Thunderor, Gargathathon and, of course, Garet Jax: Weapons Master.

Friday 27th December
Family Fortunes, Going For Gold, 3-2-1, Name That Tune
OUR CHOICE: Going For Gold. Standard “day off from school” issue, this. Interesting for a few reasons: The show’s “gold” remit became more loosely defined as the series went on (from a trip to the Seoul Olympics to “they’re all playing for that holiday on Australia’s Gold Coast”); this is the only gameshow we can think of where the losers came back the following day; Henry Kelly would always introduce the second round as “the first round, proper”; and that end-game with the sliding chunks and “the big four zone” was ace. “You are now playing catch-up”.

Saturday 28th December
We Are the Champions, Sale of the Century, The Golden Shot, The Adventure Game
OUR CHOICE: Sale of the Century. Please let it be that pre-networked edition, with Nicholas Parsons coo-ing “you look like you’ve got a lot of knowledge” to each of the contestants, before trying to force a portly middle-aged woman into a fur-coat she knows is too small for her, and then suggesting she might like to put the dining room suite on offer behind her existing dining room suite at home. On a side-note, and cut this out Creamguide Ed if it’s in poor-taste, but did anyone else’s schoolmates used to make sick jokes about the “away you go!” bit at the end of We Are The Champions when they had those disabled kids on? We laughed then, but of course it was wrong.

Sunday 29th December
Opportunity Knocks, The Generation Game, Family Fortunes
OUR CHOICE: Op Knocks. So much potential here, from that singing dog beating Su Pollard (“Surely the former is a description of the latter?” – � Laughter Thoughts Humour Solutions 2002), to Bobby Crush’s triumphant six-week winning run, to Cannon and Ball coming last, to Paul Daniels claiming the clap-o-meter was simply a bloke offstage pulling a lever, to the “Bob Says…” incarnation featuring the Balfour Chorus doing Bo Rap, and breaking off in the guitar solo to sing: “We are the Balfour Chorus/Girl’s just scream and fall down before us/We sing so loud, how can you ignore us/We’re the 1-2-3-4… Balfour Chorus!” (which is kind of off-message for the song, but you’ve got to give it them for class). Is it only us that remembers that last one?

Monday 30th December
3-2-1, Crackerjack, New Faces
OUR CHOICE: Crackerjack. “Ashes to ashes, fun to funky, Major Tom’s a cheeky Monkey”. We predict it’ll be a Stu Francis one, but for our money Ed Stewart was the definitive host. When we were little it took us a lot of time to adjust to the Ed/Stu change over, you know. We were convinced that somehow Stu was actually still Ed, and couldn’t work out why we didn’t like him anymore. Er, we’re still trying to get to grips with that. Anyway, Crackerjack’s main claim to fame is that every year there’d be union trouble over “The Crackerjack Clock” – although we forget the details of exactly how. Take it away, Creamguide Ed .

New Year’s Eve
Going For Gold, We Are the Champions, Golden Shot, Blankety Blank
OUR CHOICE: Blankety Blank. Let’s face it, Tezzer wasn’t that good on this. To the nutter in the front-row centre he’d do a lot of foot stamping and “aha!”s and “you cad!”s which were always a bit boring. And he was always too obviously embarrassed about everything. So that’s why we say let’s have Les with all that sweat on his upper-lip, and his own foot-stamping and “you cad!”s which were, of course, great.

New Year’s Day
Best of the Christmas Cult Selection
This is a viewers’ vote selection, so we’re predicting the Dr Who fans will be mobilise
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