So now to channel hop and look at the line-ups offered by the more sedate and intellectual BBC2 and Channel 4 (yes, you did read that correctly). By the very nature of Christmas Day TV, these broadcasters don’t really have much choice but to PUT their heads down and just get on with it. Let the big boys fight over their toys, and often this can lead to some richer, more interesting viewing fare. Sometimes…
BBC2 potters about for the first few hours of the morning, although I’m always bang on for a bit of Lazytown (8am). But there’s meat on the bones come 11.15am with the most epic of epic movies. Gone with the Wind must play some part of Christmas, and whether I watch or not, I’m glad that somebody is showing it. The day proceeds in typical muted fashion with an episode of Hetty Wainthropp Investigates (2.45pm). This is running throughout the Christmas period, but is definitely stocking filler material.
It isn’t until 3.55pm that BBC2 goes down a more traditional and intellectual route with The Magic of Romeo and Juliet, a short documentary on Kenneth MacMilan’s somewhat controversial original ballet. This serves as a curtain raiser to Romeo and Juliet with the Royal Ballet (4.25pm), a televised outing for the Royal Ballet’s recent production. When I was a kid, I’d wrinkle my nose with distaste at this vogue for showing highbrow fare on Christmas Day, but a little older and wiser, I think it’s great. If you want an alternative to the tinsel and glitter elsewhere on this most exhausting of days, this is a good bet.
As is Andrea Bocelli: the Story Behind the Voice (6.50pm). This is an beautifully intimate profile of the feted Italian tenor, following his private life with some unprecdented access. Again, if you want highbrow, this is the place to be.
There’s a little diversion at 8pm with a seasonal Dad’s Army – well, it is Christmas. But the centrepiece of BBC2’s evening is a 90 minute Dragon’s Den special, looking back over some of the series’ greatest moments. It’s essentially filler material, but great fun nonetheless, with contributions from fans and the dragons themselves. With the series due to move to BBC1 next year, this is a fitting farewell.
And that’s where BBC2’s evening really draws to a close, with the rest of the night taken up by repeats shown in the last week – which feels like a cheat considering the rest of the night has been pretty good.
Channel 4 mines a similar seam of scheduling with a mix of family entertainment blended with more intellectual outings. There’s nothing really to trouble the scorer bar an outing for Kylie Showgirl Homecoming Tour (10.35am). Considering the songstress’s appearance in tonight’s Doctor Who on BBC1, I’d say this is fair enough.
Bugsy Malone (1.05pm) makes me very happy indeed by the virtue of being my favourite film. It’s been seen so many times though, that I can’t imagine many tuning in for long, if at all. It’s still great though.
Things revert to type at 2.45pm with Strictly Bolshoi. Beeb 2 and C4 could probably interchange a couple of programmes today, and nobody would know any different. Strictly Bolshoi follows the efforts of choreographer Christopher Wheeldon in mounting a new production for the Moscow based ballet company, thus becoming the first Englishman to do so. This will doubtless be fascinating, and easily the best thing on the box at this time of the day.
I honestly think C4 can do better than doling out a couple of Simpsons episodes (4.20pm), but when you’ve paid that much for something, it would be silly not to use it. Having said that, it feels a bit of a cheat to stick out an episode from season one. Cheap, but fun…
Not content with returning to his natural home on Christmas morning (you can see Noel’s Christmas Presents on Sky One at 10am), Noel Edmonds gets a second outing with Deal or No Deal Christmas Star (5.20pm). There’s not a lot to say about this – it’s Deal or No Deal, after all – but it’s for charidee, so I’m not even going to attempt to knock it. The show might be past its best, but goodwill never is.
Epic movie action with The African Queen (6.10pm) followed by the alternative Christmas Day Message (8.05pm) bring us to The Hidden Story of Jesus (8.30pm). This has the potential to provide the most interesting programme on Christmas Day as theologian and filmmaker Robert Beckford examines the many representations of the story of Jesus Christ across the world and different religions. Sounds like something the BBC should be putting out, but the fact that at least one broadcaster is putting a religious angle on the day is rather progressive. How quaint!
And finally we have the big movie with The Motorcycle Diaries (10.35pm), which I’d say is just about a perfect film to round off Channel 4’s generally very good line-up.
Of the two broadcasters I’d say there’s nothing in it, but BBC2 loses points for opting for some very recent repeats from 10pm rather than giving us a film or a big drama. But the schedules here are a good reflection of what BBC2 and Channel 4 do best – entertaining yet thoughtful programming with a highbrow leaning.