Every December the 25th I go round my sister’s for the day, which might sound impressive but actually isn’t as she only lives next door. It’s a Christmas trade off – I get several excellent meals, none of which I would have bothered with if left to my own devices, but I end up sitting through television programmes I wouldn’t touch with a bargepole in normal circumstances, the various broadcasters having pulled out all the stops to be even more mediocre than usual, and the rest of us so full of seasonal bonhommie that we either don’t notice or simply don’t care.
Christmas Day Top of the Pops - A sure sign of the fast approaching end of days. I was once bemused at the popularity of Lady Gaga, but having seen what else is on offer in the way of chart sounds it’s a lot easier to understand. With a couple of exceptions, these people were painful to listen to. There weren’t even any decent looking girl bands I could at least lech over (come back Geri, Victoria, Mel C etc – all is forgiven). I feel privileged having grown up during the 60s, when the likes of Bob Dylan, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Who provided the soundtrack to my life.
And reading this through, I’m mildly concerned that, as far as youth culture goes, I appear to be turning into my father.
The Queen’s Speech – An octogenarian multi-millionaire tells us all what a trying year she has had, but how she’s managed to find light in the darkness, and so the rest of us should be happy with our lot as well. I suspect Liz’s sound bites are written by graduates of the George Orwell School of Business Speak, who will never call a problem ‘a problem’ when it can be reified as ‘a challenge’.
I’m not a staunch monarchist, in case you hadn’t guessed, though having said that I’m in two minds about the benefits of a republic. On the one hand, that gurning tulip Cameron gets to strut round the world as a head of state, and on the other I get to pummel his silly face every time I put a stamp on an envelope.
Deal Or No Deal - Panto themed, with Noel Edmonds allegedly dressed as a genie, but looking more like something that crawls out of a drain only to get zapped by the latest brand of Domestos. Ordinary people play for variable sums of money in a contest that involves little skill other than knowing when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em, and having the luck to pick the right boxes to open.
You’ve Been Framed - Video clips of people doing silly things or having mishaps, all with a seasonal theme. The unbearably smug and unctuous Harry Hill provides a running commentary. Okay, I laughed a few times. I find things like cats toppling Christmas trees and little children getting buried in snow amusing. They appeal to the part of me that writes horror fiction.
Festive Family Fortunes - Two families (in this case the cast members from two television shows) compete to guess the answers given by the general public to simple questions, such as ‘What do you do with the turkey leftovers?’ All the money won went to the family’s designated charity. Am I alone in thinking that there is something almost sadistic in dangling a £30k carrot in front of a cash starved charity, but making it dependent on the mental capabilities of low rent reality TV stars? That is just sooooooooooooo wrong.
Eastenders & Coronation Street - I find it hard to distinguish between them, other than that one lot speak with a mockney accent and the other lot are northern. Cue alarums and excursions, festive fireballs and midwinter murder, and for trimming add affairs and illness, secrets revealed and confessions made. More incident takes place in a single episode of one of these soaps than occurs in a decade on the street where I live, and yet we’re told that they are true to life. So how come nobody is watching television on Christmas Day?
Westlife - A documentary my sister taped at some stage over the past fortnight. Okay, they’ve done a few songs that didn’t make my ears bleed, but all the same I can’t tell them apart from Boyzone, or Blue, or Take That, or any one of the hundred other boy bands that have come and gone over the past twenty years. I think Simon Cowell has a research facility somewhere that clones them. Apparently they were the biggest pop band in the world at one time. Whatever.
I am, I’m turning into my father.
Strictly Come Dancing - The highlight of my day. Attractive young (mostly) men and women in moderately skimpy costumes throwing themselves round a dance floor to music. Then there was Bruce Forsythe. And Shakin’ Stevens. The term ‘highlight’ is relative.
Today we’re back to normal, or as near as it gets round here. My sister and her husband were watching nature documentaries last time I looked in on them, while in Chez Tennant some new horror DVDs are seductively whispering, ‘Play me! Play me!’
So what did the rest of you watch on the 25th?