Sit back, a few festive TV nuggets have yet to come
The programmes to watch and the one you really want to miss
By the time you read this, mugs will have been slapped in the Queen Vic, gubs chinned at the Rover’s Return and Santa will have already come down the chimney of the Tardis, or at least what passes for one in a type-40 time capsule (I admit it – I’m such a nerd, I didn’t even have to google that fact).
The Downton Christmas Special will have offered up as many surprising revelations as a Where’s Wally bumper book, and various midwives will have been called.
Closer to home, Nolan’s Five Gold Rings chat quiz charity-type thing will have puzzled local viewers into an early seasonal stupor, which will have been reinforced by all the televised back-slapping of the brats on the hill spinning fudge into fine gold.
You’ll also, of course, have been washing all of this down with lashings of tonic wine, cynicism and an urge to hit UK Gold on the remote and wallow in back to back Only Fools and Horses Christmas specials.
The Christmas schedules may not this far have had that many surprises, but there are still a few festive nuggets to whet jaded whistles as we enter the home straight, aka Boxing Day.
It would take you to be emotionally gummed up as a Merchant-dwelling fictional detective not to appreciate seasonal Victoria Wood product and I can tell you that That Day We Sang is a peach of thing. An all-singing, all-dancing bittersweet and funny antidote to all that professional soapy gurning and enforced jollity assaulting our sherry-dulled senses at this very special time of year.
Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton are middle-aged Tubby and Enid, who burst into song and dance routines as they look back over lives of missed opportunity and regret. It’s utterly enchanting, the way exhuming Brucie’s soft show shuffling ghost of Christmas past for Xmas Strictly wasn’t. In fact it might actually be this jaded hack’s Christmas TV event of the year, superseding even “Sir” Sugar’s agonising over lady’s tights in the Apprentice final.
I’m looking forward to watching The Boy in the Dress also, if only because it proves there’s much more to David Walliams than the rubbish “drag and gag” tat of Little Britain. Star-encrusted adaptations of his rather lovely books have quickly become fixtures as seasonal as pet abandonment and indigestion.
And, friends, as you loosen your belt just one more notch and try to remember that recipe for Turkey korma tonight, you should treat yourself instead to the big warm “everybody who’s everybody is in it” dollop of festive telly loveliness that is Agatha Raisin and the Quiche Of Death.
It’s exactly as silly and enjoyable as the title suggests and anything with Ashley Jensen in it is worth a wee Boxing Day punt. Or should that be jab? Or if you’ve already been broken by relatives, warm lager and Quality Street, there’s always the Big Fat Quiz of the Year, but that’s like allowing your recent life flash before your eyes as narrated by bad comedians, service revolver in quivering hand, wondering were it all went wrong – 7ou’re so much better than that.
Whether you’ve chosen to watch reruns of Del Boy and Rodney, want to Strictly it up, or indulge in a little soap binging, season’s greetings to you all from TV View. And remember: chin-up – festive telly isn’t for life, it’s for Christmas.
Rare Breeds serves up winning glimpse of life down on the farm
Sing it from the top of the tallest silage container! A Rare Breed is back in the New Year.
It'll be a little early for lambing season, mind, but everybody's favourite horsefly-on-the-barn-wall agricultural show will be expanding its horizons taking in 21 farming families across the whole of Ireland. I must admit I was taken aback initially by the fact that it's one of the biggest tv shows in Northern Ireland. Ever. Beating records previously not set by a Dander with Drennan.
But it make sense when you realise just how much of our society is actually rural, and, well, agricultural. And folk love nothing more than seeing people like themselves facing the same trials and tribulations, sharing the same triumphs. It's a winning TV recipe for a land that's got more livestock than people - probably.
It also helps that it's more gripping than one of those machines they use for milking cattle. You can tell I'm from Belfast, right? But I can assure you that us city slickers appreciate the farming life - at least from a healthy, air-freshened distance. It's also useful to see the often obscured process by which agricultural product ends up on our shelves. But mostly it's the cute lambs and stuff that have people like me hooked.
Few laughs in Ricky's attempt at making a big statement
Derek finished on a Christmas not-so-Special the other night. The Ricky Gervais comedy set in a care home featuring the man himself as a Forrest Gump-style character ended as it began - with mass indifference sprinkled with a bit of outrage about his portrayal of Derek.
Remember just 11 years ago when Gervais' The Office finale became one of the iconic Christmas TV moments? What's changed then? Jokes. Or lack thereof. In his desperate attempt to make a profound statement about the human condition through the unorthodox medium of pretending to have learning difficulties, he's forgotten put jokes in. I sat in silence for over an hour. That hasn't happened to me since Last of the Summer Wine was last on our screens.
There’s been some tasty tinselly treats over the festive period. But for sheer, stop-me-in-my-tracks shock value, The Wrong Mans special was actually really good. And this from someone who James Corden usually brings out in hives. Or to be more accurate, in the interests of legality, it’s the mere sight of him which causes me to break out the calamine lotion.
Is it sacrilege to say this? The Simpsons is now terrible. I turned prematurely to Sky One the other night to catch my new fave superhero show The Flash, and caught the tail end of Homer & Co. I have a theory: as the animation gets ever better, the scripts get worse. And the animation was stunning ....