Imagine the scene. It’s mid December, the late 70’s. John Noakes is crudely fashioning tinsel & coat hangers. Shep is left of camera, sniffing Petra's arse. Suddenly, there’s a thud on the doormat. Is that Brucie & Anthea in full Victorian splendour? But...but..that can only mean two things?
1) The paper bill has finally been paid.
2) The Christmas Radio & TV Times (double editions) have arrived.
With an eye for detail. a big felt tip & a curious yearning for those days when there wasn’t 163 channels called UK Bollocks pumping out programmes called “Hitler’s arse” or “When good fridges go bad”, lets take a look at what would constitute a perfect Christmas Day’s telly schedule in Wigan.
Please note: Timings, durations & content may be liable to total fabrication, whimsy & flights of fancy.
9:00 - The Snowman
Real tear in the eye when we’re “Walking in the Air” & at the end. It melts. Briggs, you callous bastard. Worth it for Bowie’s scarf & jumper combo at the beginning. What did C4 show before they bought this?
9:30 - Circus – Either Billy Smart’s or Chipperfields.
3 basic rules of any good circus :
1) Clowns must look like they’re on a register somewhere, ride tiny bicycles & have cars that fall to pieces. A bit like Marsh Green….
2) Trapeze acts must be all incestuous family affairs from Romania.
3) Chimps must wear the mask of terror that tells of less orthodox training techniques still legal in parts of Albania.
10:00 – Noel Edmonds
Usually visiting relatives so a safe first outing of the day for the sanctimonious cock, hopefully minus helicopters & helicopter related tragedies. Ideally, he’d be stuck him up post office towers doing video links to Australia that no one cared about, including those involved. For the optimum Edmonds experience, offensive sweaters, immaculate beard, regional links to jaded presenters, The Krankies ( minus swinging allegations ) & Feargal Sharkey miming badly aboard jets must all be witnessed.
12:00 – Steptoe & Son
Genuine class. The Christmas special from 1974 where Harold wants to go abroad but Albert wants to go to Bognor. Cue much pathos, emotional blackmail & “Dirty old man’s" but with party hats & grotty decorations. Hey, if it aint broke……..
Extolling the virtues of the Ronco “Buttoneer” & a still saucy Lynda Bellingham knocking up a bit of scran for her ungrateful archetypal 80’s nuclear family, complete with hubby more interested in magic tricks than unfurling those cracking norks we all witnessed in “Confessions of a Driving Instructor”.
1:00 – Some Mothers Do ‘Ave Em
Not wearing as well as many would have us believe but still watchable. I’ll go for the Christmas special from 1974. No rollerskating or worrying about the correct change but a myriad of “ooh’s”, “aah’s” & dogs doing whoopsies on the carpet. Jessica’s gonna see the Queen on Christmas day, Betty’s one step away from the Prozac & the Christmas tree is but a mere twig. Culminates in the inevitable chaos at the nativity play. “Put another bag on…NO, NOT THAT ONE…”
2:00 – Porridge
1975 Special. Grouty is masterminding a tunnel, Fletch wants no part of it, Godber is dopey, Warren is illiterate & Biggins gives Norton, Winton et al a masterclass in camp . Needless to say, it all goes tits up. McKay cancels Christmas & Fletch saves the day by falling down a big hole & revealing where they hid the soil. Funnier than it sounds (but you knew that anyway…)
2:30 – Rising Damp
1976 Christmas Special. Rare incursion of an ITV product. Alan thinks he’s gonna get laid, Philip brings back some “jungle juice” & a black girlfriend ( mild racism alert but its ok cos it’s the kind we laugh AT ). Rigsby’s thwarted by the milkman ( aka Mr Mash from “Are you being served” ) on the bird front. Absence of Frances de la Tour means lack of hip grabbing & “Miss Jones” mannerisms but that aside, it’s textbook Damp.
3:00 – Top of the Pops
Viewed from behind a mountainous dinner perched precariously on your lap – NEVER a table – it’s the second outing of the day for hirsute Anti-Christ Edmonds slotting effortlessly into a classic line up of Blackburn, Saville, Travis & Peel ( mandolin playing optional ). All resplendent in draylon & party hats, covered in tinsel & fake snow making lecherous sideways glances just off camera towards underage girls ( Peel – I’m looking at YOU here…. ) Artists should include Wizzard, the Pogues, Jona Lewie, and Shakey. Slade, with mutton chopped Noddy & preposterously coiffeured Dave Hill, must be number one. Mirrored top hats compulsory. “Super Yob” guitar optional.
4:00 – Bond Film
Neither know nor care which one. Merely white noise whilst I sleep off unfeasibly large Christmas meal, Miniature Heroes & peanuts all the while breaking wind like a Stevedore. Helpful if it includes bald villain on kitsch 70’s swivel chair stroking white cat, hatching fiendish plots & uttering lines such as “Ah Mr Bond, we meet again. But this time the advantage is mine” (copyright Viz 1989).
6:00 – News
Nothing ever happens on Christmas day. Actually, there will be some atrocity in the Middle East but this will be glossed over to show the Queen in Church accepting a teddy off some gurning old dear who’s not had the gas on since October to pay for it.
6:30 – Only Fools & Horses
Not the flabby overblown caricatures who took the money & ran towards the end but the sharp, half hour 1983 special where Del Boy’s dad comes back with a different blood group to Del. Cue hilarity at Grandad’s gravy, Delboy being called the Lone Ranger & the fact the estranged Trotter had robbed the chief gynaecologists Lambretta from some hospital in Newcastle.
Henry Cooper & Barry Sheene splash it all over as Patrick Mower drinks Babycham, probably whilst smoking a Hamlet (..”The mild cigar…from Benson & Hedges”).
7:00 – Generation Game
Just in time to greet the inevitable round of turkey butties, the big boys come out to play. Plumped for Forsyth here but honourable mention must also go to Grayson ( not Davidson ). Bruce’s rug is suitably seasonal & the goofy Anthea is twirling like her life depended on it in a “tasteful” pastel blue tarpaulin. Festive twists on the usual pot throwing & baton twirling games topped off by a panto inclusive of Frankie Howerd & The Kings Singers. Prizes to include luggage, a fondue set &….a cuddly toy!
8:00 – Morecambe & Wise
The Rolls Royce of light entertainment. Rejoice in the sheer genius that was Eric Morecambe & his much undervalued straight man. A cavalcade of cheek slapping, bifocal adjustment & grapefruit squeezing. Gaze in wonder as Eric plays all the right notes (but not necessarily in the right order), Angela Rippon high kicks & a coke fuelled, suspender clad Frank Bough somersaults acrobatically, fresh from having his arse tanned by a dominatrix brass. Timeless.
9:00 – The Two Ronnies
Close second to M&W. Awesome entertainment from two all time legends. Must include dressing as unconvincing women or children’s characters for lavish musical numbers with clever plays on words (possibly about fork handles). Little Ron, sporting the latest in terrace fashion knitwear, must labour over a drawn out monologue bemoaning his producer’s fiscal limitations. There should be an episode of the Phantom Raspberry Blower of old London Town or “The worm that turned”and the whole thing should be topped off with “It’s a merry Christmas from me & a happy New Year from him”. Trust me, it doesn’t come any better than this.
10:00 – The Office Christmas Special
Two parter & the most recent inclusion. Quite simply, one of the most perfect 2 hours of TV it's ever been my pleasure to witness. Everything about it was exquisite, from Brent's reaction to the fat blind date through to the look on that smarmy bastard of a boss' face when Brent's tasty bird arrives. Stick 2 fingers up as David finally tells Finchy to fuck off then shed a tear as Tim & Dawn get together. Right. Can I ask you a question? Who does your tampons?
12:00 – Carry On Film
What better way to round the evening off. Seeing as “Screaming” has probably been shown a couple of months earlier for Halloween, I’ll go for “Khyber” or “Follow that Camel”. Either’s good for slumping down & making yourself sick on nuts, Newberry Fruits & all manner of shite you wouldn’t entertain the other 364 days of the year.
Words caressed by an overly sentimental Finton Stack.
Special thanks ( & a knowing tap on the nose ) to the good folks of TV Cream for providing the inspiration. In loving memory of all the greats mentioned here who are no longer with us yet gave us so much happiness.
Johnny's big day out
4 years ago