Top 10 TV Shows for Christmas 2017

I’ve looked hard, I’ve done the work so you don’t have to, there is not a lot on this Christmas that’s in the don’t miss category, but still, there is enough for a top 10…

And, just a point, this is stuff I like…which means no Doctor Who, or Call the Midwife, or Strictly…so, consider this an alternative to the usual Christmas highlights list. I do appreciate there are a lot of folk who like the Doctor (hasn’t been good since David Tennant left, sorry, but it’s true) and Strictly is fine light entertainment, but not my bag. Call The Midwife, Victoria and all of those other period dramas I can’t bare either, frankly I always like a bit of comedy this time of year so that’s what I’ve gone for in the main.

Honourable mentions that missed out are Michael McIntyre on BBC One Christmas Eve, League of their Own on Sky One at various times (if you can stand that), more football than you can shake a stick at on Sky Sports and if you’re a 90’s child (as in a 90’s teenager) like me don’t miss Oasis: Supersonic on BBC Two on the 27th (10pm).

Anyway, on with the list:

10. The Great Christmas Bake Off

Christmas Day – Channel 4 – 19:40 – 21:00
New Year’s Day – Channel 4 – 19:40 – 21:00

Well this looks like fun. The usual mob of Paul ‘The Tan’ Hollywood, Prue ‘Glasses’ Leith, Sandi ‘QI’ Toksvig and Noel ‘Better than you thought he’d be’ Fielding are back. They’re getting 8 previous bakers back in the tent for a bit of Christmas baking. Honestly, just sounds perfect with a glass of wine and a mince pie to me.


9. The Price is Right

Saturday 30th December – Channel 4 – 20:00 – 21:00

No, they’ve not revived Leslie Crowther to give a bit of the old “Come on down” magic…this is a new Alan Carr ‘comedy’ vehicle. It’ll probably end up as good and successful as last year’s David Walliams’ catastrophic Blankety Blank, but have a drink and settle in for what will surely have a giggle or two at least.


8. Vic and Bob’s Big Night Out

Friday 29th December – BBC 2 – 21:00 – 21:30

Such a shame this is only half an hour. I used to love watching the old Big Night Out on Channel back in the 90s, if this is even close to that, it’ll be top drawer fun. No doubt it’ll be utter lunacy too…but that’s half the fun.


7. Celebrity Juice – Christmas Special

Thursday 21st December – ITV 2 – 22:00 – 23:00

Now I get this is rude and all that, and that Keith Lemon is a real acquired taste…but as many people who know me will know, I like a tipple or two. And if I’ve had a tipple or two, if I’m right at the sweet spot, I’ll argue till I’m blue in the face, that this is the funniest thing on TV. Outside of that meanwhile…I totally agree it’s smutty garbage that’s not as funny as it used to be…but it’s Christmas, I’ll record this and watch it when I’m prime drunk, I suggest you do the same!


6. Crystal Maze – Christmas Special

Thursday 14th December – Channel 4 – 20:00 – 21:00

Against all expectations, the new Crystal Maze was rather brilliant. It was helped along by the fact that some of the contestants were ridiculously dense and Richard Ayoade nailed every moment perfectly with that awkward comedy he does so well. This is a celebrity edition, so it might not be quite the same fun, but the format remains great so get it watched. Oh, and yes I know it was on last night, but it’s repeated on 7Seven over Christmas, it’s also on Channel 4 on New Year’ Eve and you can find it all over OnDemand..so get it watched!


5. Miranda Does Christmas

Wednesday 27th December – Channel 4 – 21:00 – 22:00

It’s pretty clear by now that Channel 4 have won Christmas on the TV, so kudos to them. I like Miranda, always good for a giggle. This show is a one-off and it’s not the sitcom thing from BBC One either, this is Miranda out and about talking to folk and getting people have fun at Christmas. You know, I don’t make it sound particularly great there…but she’s generally good value so I reckon this will be pretty decent.


4. Trollied – Christmas Special

Christmas Eve – Sky One – 21:30 – 22:30

This came out of the blue really, I’ve browsed around it’s a genuinely brand new episode too. Now, Trollied, it is pretty rubbish and yet, it’s also chock full of some really well known faces of British comedy. These days, finding even a half decent sitcom is a challenge so this is a welcome relief. If you like Trollied, you’ll like this, if not I’m sure it won’t convince you.


3. 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown – Christmas Special

Friday 29th December – Channel 4 – 21:00 – 22:00

It’s been ages since this was last on the telly it seems to me, and it’s been really missed. Jimmy, Sean and Jon are back in this one, which is nice as the last series Sean and Jon were apart all too often. It’ll be the same old fun, with idiocy from Joe Wilkinson, genius from Rachel and Susie…an hour of genuine comedy you can play along with too.


2. Taskmaster – Champion of Champions

Wednesday 13th December – Dave – 21:00 – 22:00
Wednesday 20th December – Dave – 21:00 – 22:00

Taskmaster is easily one of the most under the radar, best shows on TV. The premise is five comedians, over eight weeks, are set a series of tasks ranging from silly to clever to creative. There have now been five series of this, and that means there is a champion of champions edition and here it is. Only two episodes, and it’s repeated loads (and all over OnDemand)…it’s worthy of your time, I promise.


1. Big Fat Quiz of the Year 2017

Boxing Day – Channel 4 – 21:00 – 23:10

The annual show, quite literally the funniest thing on TV every year, this year along with Jimmy Carr presenting, we’ve got Richard Ayoade, Noel Fielding, David Mitchell, Roisin Conaty, Katherine Ryan and somebody called Big Narstie…and showing my age I guess, I have no clue who that is.

An absolute must watch and I guarantee, I’ll be there on Boxing Day, feet up on the pouffe, slippers on, still vaguely full after dinner at the in-laws after all the football is done, chilling with the wife, a few drinks, cheese and crackers and laughing away!


 

So there we have it, feel free to add anything I’ve not mentioned in the comments.

Christmas Radio Times and other TV Guides

It’s funny really, two years running I’ve slowed down a lot on the blog from the end of November and through December. Not sure why, maybe all of the build up is done early, seeing what new cakes and treats, adverts and things are coming…but by the time we get to December, we’re literally just consuming it all and there is less to write about.

That said, one of the highlights of the whole Christmas period is picking up the Christmas Radio Times…which I’ve bought every year for the last 30 years (for real). This year, like Santa and his list with a naughty boy, I’ve checked it twice and I can’t bring myself to buy it.

You see…it might be 292 pages long, it might have a cute cover:

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It might also come with a free Paddington book…but it costs £4.50.

That’s £4.50 for a LOT of adverts and a TV Guide. Oh, and a radio guide…although amusingly I read earlier that some of the regional variations of the Radio Times are actually getting the wrong region included of local radio listings…and all for £4.50.

Now…one of the strengths of the Radio Times has always been the articles, but, and I appreciate I’m judging from last year, I found the articles pretty much identical to the other magazines with a lot of reviews of films that have been repeated hundreds of times and not quite enough opinion pieces and comment, just a lot of fluff from the show PR machines.

In other words…I’ve not bothered.

I have bought this one though:

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Total TV Guide, which cost £2.90, has 212 pages, less adverts, the same TV Guide and many of the same articles. It HAS got a slightly disturbing cover of Santa Claus held hostage in a snow globe though!

I did like the editor’s quote too:

“…the almost but not quite legendary Total TV Guide bumper Christmas extravaganza.”

Nice subtle dig at the Radio Times and it’s over-inflated opinion of itself!

I did look at Satellite and TV Week too, which is a magazine I used to subscribe to a few years ago…again, this looks like a nice traditional cover and I have got Sky so actually the layout in this one is really quite good…but even this is £3.50.

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I am still tempted to pick this one up though and give the Total TV Guide to my mum.

What I won’t do though, is pick up that most evil of TV Guide, What’s On TV. Why? Well just look at the front cover:

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No words really can describe how that makes me feel!

Moving on…all that remains is to actually look through the TV Guide and see what’s on…and just from glancing through I can see I might be having a good whinge!

Love Actually Day

 

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That’s right…5 weeks to Christmas, better known as LOVE ACTUALLY DAY.

No messing now folks…get your movies started, your shopping cracking on…

Oh yeah, it’s Black Friday week too…let the madness commence!

November – HeartTV Xmas

It’s 1st November…Halloween is done and dusted, we have the minor wrinkle of bonfire night this weekend, but after that…it’s Christmas baby…all the way!

And kicking off November is HeartTV Xmas…just gone live on the Sky platform (and probably any other it is on too) channel number 387.

Now, I agree, HeartTV has perhaps the lowest bitrate and worst resolution in the world, but it’s not the picture it’s all about the music!

Here it is…with a bit of Kylie for good measure:

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Enjoy…

McVitie’s Family Circle Biscuits

Time for something a bit different, taking a break from eating mince pies for a little while now and looking at some other things.

First up, it’s the classic, the favourite of 80s children everywhere, the McVitie’s Family Circle biscuits, formally a tin, then a tub and now, disappointingly, a box. So, let’s start there shall we…

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So, this is now a box, last year and for quite a few years before that too, it’s been a plastic tub. Before that it was a tin, but I’ve given up on that as a mainstream option these days.

As a value proposition, a disposable box is not the same as a plastic resealable tub and that is disappointing. Worse, last year, the tub weighed 700g and this year the box weighs in at 670g.

All for the same price (this was £3.00 from Sainsbury’s but I reckon they’ll be £2.50 here and there).

Let’s take a look at last year:

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Wait a minute…”Crawfords”?

But mine are McVitie’s…

Don’t panic, they are all the same and it seems it might even depend where you get them from. Family Circle are by United Biscuits, of which both Crawfords and McVities are a part of the brand. Who knew…

Anyway, last year’s tub shows you, it’s a good quality tub and we do still have the 10 varieties included, so maybe, just maybe, the 30g loss is the removal of the tub to reduce the costs enough to keep the biscuits the same. Maybe.

But I also found this from probably a few years back:

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900g here…and 11 varieties…well, that does upset me, what’s missing? A brain I think for whoever made the box, because there are only 10 varieties shown!!!!!!! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve just counted them, I’m right, there are 10 shown despite a claim of 11. The ones shown are pretty much identical to the ones we currently have, apart from the change to the smiley faced freaky looking thing on the new box.

While I’m here, let’s pause and remember some old tins:

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These tins have plainly been used for Mum’s sewing kit, but my oh my do these like like real event treats. Understandably, there are some differences in the biscuit selection (this would have been the 80s remember for these tins) but there is a big issue to raise now.

PINK WAFERS

Where have they gone? I realise they were the ones always left to the end, but that was the magic, you’d always have a biscuit left in the tin for when you were desperate on December 30th!

I think we should consider a campaign to bring them back, and while we’re at it, McVities (or Crawfords or whoever) should go big next year on a Family Circle tin, go for something like 1.2kg, add the pink wafers back in, charge a fiver, advertise it on telly, they’ll fly off the shelves. Make it a special edition, people like me will buy them and take photos too!

So, what’s in the box?

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Well, it’s a tidy selection that, and the jammy dodgers will be first to go in my box guaranteed.

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Opening the box, there are two trays, both individually wrapped in this quite fancy looking wrapping. No clear plastic bags here, interesting words though:

Once opened, store in an airtight container

Well, I would do, but you only gave me the box…now, if it was a TUB…

Anyway…

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It’s underwhelming right?

Doesn’t help that the chocolate chip cookies are upside down and the chocolate on the chocolate digestive couldn’t have been spread thinner if they’d tried. Do I need to mention the lack of sugar sprinkles on the shorties? Or that the fingers look a bit sad? And…WHERE IS THE JAM ON THE SMILEY FACE!

So there you have it…I’m not going to go through and taste these, you know if you like them…custard creams, bourbons, jammy dodgers, shortcakes etc. They’re all classics and each of these is at least as good as the Tesco value variety you can buy for 30p.

For three quid, it’s worth it, just for Christmas!

80s Christmas Adverts

Following on from yesterday’s Christmas adverts from the 90s, I figured I’d link to this compilation of 1980’s adverts.

This has a definite sense of more cheese and more cringe…and that makes it great.

90s Christmas Adverts

Just stumbled over this on Youtube…this is genuinely brilliant, brings back so many memories for me…

Flashback – BBC Christmas 2013

Super Christmassy this…

Flashback: BBC Christmas Trailers 2000 and 2001

Starting with 2000 then, it’s short and some terribly dated comedy in here (wasssaaaaapp for example) but still…

Now to 2001…Only Fools featuring heavily here alongside Walking with Dinosaurs and Lenny Henry…

Flashback: BBC Christmas 2016

Christmas Football on TV

Sense prevails…there is no Christmas Eve football.

The fixtures covering December and the majority of the Christmas period have been released this afternoon, some good games included.

Saturday 2 December

12:30 Chelsea v Newcastle (Sky Sports)
17:30 Arsenal v Man Utd (BT Sport)

Sunday 3 December

13:30 AFC Bournemouth v Southampton (Sky Sports)
16:00 Man City v West Ham (Sky Sports)

Saturday 9 December

12:30 West Ham v Chelsea (Sky Sports)
17:30 Newcastle v Leicester (BT Sport)

Sunday 10 December

12:00 Southampton v Arsenal (BT Sport)
14:15 Liverpool v Everton (Sky Sports)
16:30 Man Utd v Man City (Sky Sports)

Tuesday 12 December

20:00 Huddersfield Town v Chelsea (BT Sport)

Wednesday 13 December

19:45 Swansea City v Man City
20:00 Man Utd v AFC Bournemouth
Both further to Manchester derby moving to 10 December
20:00 West Ham v Arsenal (BT Sport)

Saturday 16 December

12:30 Leicester City v Crystal Palace (Sky Sports)
Subject to change dependent on EFL Cup 5th round participation
17:30 Man City v Spurs (BT Sport)

Sunday 17 December

14:15 West Brom v Man Utd (Sky Sports)
Subject to change dependent on Everton and/or Swansea reaching EFL Cup 5th round
16:30 AFC Bournemouth v Liverpool (Sky Sports)

Monday 18 December

20:00 Everton v Swansea (Sky Sports)
Subject to change dependent on Everton and/or Swansea reaching EFL Cup 5th round

Friday 22 December

19:45 Arsenal v Liverpool (Sky Sports)

Saturday 23 December

12:30 Everton v Chelsea (Sky Sports)
17:30 Burnley v Spurs (BT Sport)
19:45 Leicester City v Man Utd (Sky Sports)

Tuesday 26 December

12:30 Spurs v Southampton (Sky Sports)
17:30 Liverpool v Swansea (Sky Sports)

Wednesday 27 December

19:45 Newcastle United v Man City (Sky Sports)

Thursday 28 December

20:00 Crystal Palace v Arsenal (Sky Sports)
Because of their selection on 28 December, neither Arsenal nor Crystal Palace will play on 30 December.

Information from the Premier League here: https://www.premierleague.com/news/495108

True Christmas on Sky

I know it’s been on for a little while already, but still, True Christmas is available on Sky channel 321. I know this channel is full of terrible TV movies from 80s America with more cheese than a gorgonzola factory…but still…Christmas channel!

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Christmas on the BBC – 1985

Blimey…simpler times…settle down with a cup of tea for this, it’s nearly 15 minutes of pure nostalgia!

Try not to cringe at the Christmas Eve bit…I dare you!

Woolworth – Have a Cracking Christmas

They don’t make ’em like this anymore…is that a good or bad thing though…

The Premier League, Christmas and the incredible disappearing amount of good faith

So it’s looking likely that Arsenal v Liverpool may well be played on Christmas Eve. With a 4pm kick-off. Live on Sky Sports. People who know me will testify that I’m a very big football fan, yet even so, I think this is a disgrace.

Let’s start at the reasons it’s happened.

This year Christmas Day is on a Monday. The Saturday before Christmas has been declared by the Premier League as a ‘normal’ game week. As a normal week, this means Sky and BT get to play spin the bottle to choose which games they show. It’s fair to say Arsenal v Liverpool is the game of the week.

Now, Sky have looked objectively at this, subscribers want to watch the games, advertisers want to pay Sky, so Sky asked to have the big game to show. The best audience figures are the Sunday games. Sky asked to move the game to the Sunday. Except this year, the Sunday is Christmas Eve. Sky are obviously betting that they’ll get a huge audience on Christmas eve, with everyone crowded around the TV. I’m not so sure though.

So, what are my objections?

To begin with, Sunday’s are bad enough for public transport, this being the only way to get to Arsenal’s stadium realistically, but you’d get through that normally. But on Christmas Eve…it doesn’t bare thinking about.

I’ve worked in retail on Christmas Eve, it’s generally done and all over by lunch time.

I’ve travelled on public transport on Christmas Eve. It’s done and all over by lunch time too.

Why?

Because people want to be at home or with their family, going to see Grandma in her bungalow, starting the bottle of Christmas Mint Baileys or Port, nibbling on a mince pie or some Quality Street, watching Polar Express with their kids…they really don’t want to be battling the crowds after dark, in London, at St Pancras or Euston, desperate for a train, trying to get 200 miles north to be home for the morning. Forget any chance of Midnight Mass by the way if that’s your jam.

And watching it on TV, really, is that what we want on Christmas Eve? Like I say, I’m a big football person, and I’m not sure I want it. I want to be helping prep the dinner, I want to be wrapping the last presents, I want Christmas music on the radio, I want to sit with a glass of wine with my feet up feeling warm and fuzzy, I want to have a few bits of cheese and crackers…I can’t think of anything worse than ignoring the wife and kids and watching two hours of football on this day. Boxing Day is fine, I’ve had enough of the family by then.

What about the players too? They are obviously paid vast sums to just get on with it, but they are still human, have families and this is hitting them. I doubt they’ll be fully at it.

What about the staff and the stewards at the ground? They will mostly have families too. I gather that the availability of Stewards is perhaps the main thing placing the game in any doubt right now.

There is a fixture programme on Boxing Day remember, this is a traditional football day. Moving the Arsenal Liverpool game though means their Boxing Day game will be moved to the Wednesday. So, Arsenal and Liverpool fans are losing their Boxing Day game because of this. I hope the fans take the opportunity to go and see some non-League on Boxing Day instead, or just maybe go for a nice walk with the family.

The point here is I’m just not sure people want it on Christmas Eve. Already TV audiences are down on football, I genuinely hope the stadium is half full and the game gets shocking viewing figures on TV, it’s the only way to stop this happening again. Actually, it’d be really funny if the game was snowed off, but it would have been fine for the Saturday…that’d teach them!