Belfast Telegraph

Dr Who, Downton and Strictly lock horns in Christmas TV ratings battle

BY AMANDA FERGUSON

Will Dr Who lord it over Downton Abbey on Christmas Day or will it be Strictly Come Dancing that triumphs in the festive television ratings battle?

BBC soap EastEnders is always a contender for the top spot, but this year it faces competition from Mrs Brown's Boys and Downton Abbey, among others. When RadioTimes.com asked 1,000 readers what TV show they couldn't live without on Christmas Day – Doctor Who won by a huge majority.

Some 65% chose the show as the TV they would watch if they could only sit down in front of one programme on December 25.

On Christmas Day a special feature-length episode will see the Timelord Matt Smith regenerate into Peter Capaldi's Doctor. Meanwhile, Downton Abbey, came in second in the survey with 18% of the votes, while Strictly Come Dancing which will feature Rochelle Humes from The Saturdays (right), EastEnders and Call The Midwife shared third place with 3% each.

Belfast Telegraph television critic Joe Nawaz is looking forward to this year's festive offerings.

"Every year there's a furore about the Christmas schedules and how they are either rammed with repeats or rubbish Christmas specials," he said.

"But isn't that the very essence of holiday programming? The Only Fools And Horses Miami special from 10 years ago alongside Strictly and Downton Christmas specials, and a few glittery baubles like Dr Who. Christmas telly should be comforting, communal and not too taxing on the old grey matter, especially after being glutted on turkey and low-alcohol lager for three days on the trot. Nobody wants to start watching that shiny new complex four-part thriller on Boxing Day.

"But give us Raiders Of The Lost Ark and a Morecombe And Wise extravaganza and we'll feel as Christmassy as Santa's deep vein thrombosis flying socks."

FACTFILE

Odds for the top Christmas Day TV Programme 2013:

1/12 EastEnders, 8/1 Mrs Brown's Boys, 14/1 Coronation Street, 16/1 Doctor Who, 25/1 Downton Abbey, 25/1 Strictly Come Dancing, 50/1 Call The Midwife, 100/1 Emmerdale, 100/1 Paul O'Grady: For The Love Of Dogs, 100/1 Toy Story

Source: William Hill

Five well-known locals tell us their goggle box turn-ons

Musical theatre actor Fra Fee, from Killyman, is currently starring in Candide at London’s Menier Chocolate Factory.

“I'm not one for spending the entirety of the holidays lazing on the sofa watching re-runs of Christmas movies but I will most definitely be spending two hours of Christmas Day engrossed in Downton Abbey. It’s undoubtedly one of my favourite things on tv. The intrigue, drama, decadence, witty Maggie Smith one-liners and all-round good performances make for a fantastic costume drama. I just need them to create another Irish character for the next series...”

Model and presenter Joanne Salley, from Dungannon, looks forward to James Bond movies at Christmas.

“It would not be Christmas without a touch of nostalgia and James Bond. The wounded soul with his swallow liaisons, the courage of a lion, heart stopping handsomeness and his cool confidence. 
The beautiful Bond girls, the stylist cars, exotic locations and cheesy one liners. It epitomises what I dreamt about as a romantic, adventure hungry teenager; stepping out of a blue sea like Ursula Andress in Dr.No, driving an Aston Martin DB5, getting lost on a deserted island with a spy who loved me.
Considered sexist in today’s society I still like the early Bond movies where the women were damsels in distress and the men were in charge.”

Belfast author and playwright Leesa Harker

“I don’t really plan to sit down and watch anything, as with a lively 3-year-old and 5-year-old it's a bit crazy at my house. Things I definitely want to watch are Dr Who, Gangsta Granny and Caitlin Moran's new sitcom Raised by Wolves. I would love to try and catch Open All Hours too, as I used to love watching that with my granny, but I have a feeling it just won't be the same. The Snowman is a definite too and yes I will gurn at the end when he melts.”

Lurgan actor Conleth Kane is currently starring in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the Birmingham Hippodrome with John Partridge, Gok Wan, Stephanie Beacham and Gary Wilmot. 

“I’m actually going to be on TV on Channel 4 on December 30. It’s a one hour special on Gok Wan’s panto debut called Gok does Panto. There are two other Northern Irish guys in the cast too, Tom Brandon and Mark Laverty.” Gok is really great fun, a great company member and a generous soul. The documentary will show how the biggest panto in the UK comes together in only two weeks.”

Former Apprentice candidate Jim Eastwood, from Cookstown, says his young family love Christmas.

“I absolutely love Christmas. My little girl Charlotte-Rose (2) has been talking about Santa and ‘Kiss-mas’ for ages and she is asking for a lollipop and some play-dough. My wee boy Ethan (1) is saying ‘Ho Ho Ho’ and pulling baubles off the tree. Too cute.
Christmas is the one time of year I get to relax, slow down and watch a little bit of TV. I'll watch a lot of football, as a Liverpool fan, and I’ll watch Mary Poppins and The Wizard of Oz with the kids. 
My wife Paula and I love watching movies when the kids have gone to bed. It's time to light the fire, snuggle up on the couch and eat a few mince pies.”

Bangor-born TV presenter Zoe Salmon

“On Christmas Day I'm always so busy chatting and eating and drinking that I never watch any TV so I'm thrilled about I-player and Catch-up.
This is my first Christmas not at home in Northern Ireland so I'll definitely have no control over what's on the TV on Christmas Day but I'll definitely be looking forward to when I can catch up on the Christmas Day episode of Downton Abbey as I'm a huge fan of the show. I would love to be in it.
Also I saw Alan Carr's Chatty Man Christmas Day episode advertised and I see that Russell Brand is a guest so I'll be catching up on that too. I have loved Russell ever since I was in his Hollywood movie Get Him To The Greek. I'd like to also take this opportunity to wish all the Belfast Telegraph readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.”

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