Last week I sounded a somewhat positive note on the virtues of BBC1’s Christmas Day schedule, and now it’s time to turn my attention to the yuletide treats offered up by ITV1.
Sad to say on first glance, I’m not that sold on the first half of the day, and things don’t really get going until after tea. The early part of the morning is taken up with the usual low-rent kiddie fare that we know the little ones won’t be watching. There’s a spark a little later with the repeat of a Creature Comforts Christmas special (10.10am), which will raise half a smile (if I haven’t sloped off back to bed by that stage).
But ooh look! It’s Christmas Cooks! (10.40am). I’ve still never cottoned on to why there’s an inappropriate exclamation mark in the title of Saturday Cooks! Live, and it’s even made it into the seasonal variety (aside from dropping the Live bit – god forbid any of the guests would work on Christmas Day). Sorry, this falls flat – I’m hardly likely to want Wozza to pop in for a sherry on Christmas morning, and I’ll be living with fear that my mother will see a bit and suddenly remember she forgot the bread sauce and throw my Dalek Sec voice changer helmet at the telly (not that I’ll be getting one seeing as I’m 36). Cooking shows on Christmas Day – the TV equivalent of closing the barn door after the reindeers have bolted.
And then it’s all just a bit meh for the rest of the day with Casper and Inspector Gadget providing filmic “entertainment” from 11.40am until the royal commitment at 3pm. Okay, I know that nobody will be watching at this point, but that’s no excuse not to make a bit of effort. And that’s my main beef with this afternoon schedule; it’s all a bit limp. A repeat of Hetty Wainthropp on BBC 2 is looking more attractive than this.
The Queen is all present and correct at 3pm, followed by Lights! Camera! The Queen! (3.10pm). As somebody with an interest in TV history, I’m quite into the idea of a documentary that celebrates the 50th anniversary of The Queen’s Speech, but is that going to be any match for Finding Nemo on BBC1? Probably not, but at least this is a good alternative, and the adults might find this quite refreshing.
Again, not that fussed about All Star Family Fortunes (4.10pm), especially not with faded Corrie starlet Nikki Sanderson and Greg Rusedski. Perhaps ITV is reverting to type and throwing in the Christmas towel? Although perhaps not at 5pm, with the big family film being The Polar Express, up against Shrek 2 on the Beeb. Mmmm, lemme think. Wicked fairytale fun with a big green ogre, or slightly worthy magical journey voiced by Tom Hanks? I know what my nephews will choose, but at least a bit of thought has been put into this to offer some variety again.
Chunks of soap take up a great deal of the remainder of the evening – do I really care if Jack can cope with Diane’s betrayal in Emmerdale (6.50pm)? Not especially. It seems the everyday story of Yorkshire folk might have done too much last year with the Christmas Day murder of Tom King, and this year the storyline cupboard is bare.
Just when the evening looks lost, a knight in shining armour (well, a badly fitting suit) rides into view at 8pm. Harry Hill’s Christmas TV Burp (8pm) is a stroke of scheduling genius in an evening of fairly predictable programming. If it were up to me (which you’ll be glad to know it isn’t), Harry would be on all year round, and as Doctor Who will just have finished over on BBC1, the scheduling gods are smiling on me.
Corrie (8.30pm) is, as always, required Christmas Day viewing, and there’s always fun to be had down Weatherfield way during the festive period. John Stape might think he’s having a good Christmas, what with teen temptress Rosie still looking for some after school tuition – but it’s best to make sure the right skimpy pants go to the right woman in your life when you hand the presents over. Oops! What will Kevin have to say when the tryst is revealed, and more to the point, what will he do to the tedious teacher? It wouldn’t be Christmas without Corrie, would it?
Just when I thought things were picking up, they had to go and spoil it. Love Actually (9.30pm) pretty much brings ITV’s Christmas Day to a close. If I went in to detail about how much this movie drives me to distraction, we’d be here until next Christmas, so let’s just leave it at that, eh?
Um… on the whole, I’m a bit non-plussed, but that seems to be the default setting for an ITV Christmas Day line-up. No doubt somebody will accuse me of being a BBC apologist, but I find this to be a genuinely uninspiring stack of programming, save for Harry Hill and Corrie. At least stick an X Factor special or something on next year just to break things up.
Will some of the other channels be able to come up with better. Find out later this week…