To amplify the point that the Christmas/Boxing Day television schedule war between the BBC and ITV is something akin to Wrestlemania XXVI, one has to look no further than this years schedule plans for both outlets. Even though the BBC is more Hulk Hogan to ITV’s Vince McMahon, both continue to throw the kitchen sink at viewers year after year.
Christmas 2010 will be no exception. In what seems to be a bit of detour from past strategies of relying heavily on the regular juggernauts of Eastenders and Doctor Who, the BBC is going a bit retro this year by announcing a line-up that resembles, as The Daily Mail puts it, the Ghost of Christmas Past. Leading the charge will be soon-to-be 80 year old Ronnie Corbett in The One Ronnie, a sketch show with an all-star comedy line-up. Upstairs/Downstairs, starring the greatness of Keeley Hawes and Dame Eileen Atkins, in a revival of the 70’s classic, will transmit the day after Christmas on Boxing Day.
Other notable offerings will be the next installment of Rock & Chips, starring Nicholas Lyndhurst in a new installment of the all-time British comedy classic, Only Fools and Horses along with a new drama about the early years of the comedy duo, Morcambe and Wise and the before-mentioned annual Doctor Who special, “A Christmas Carol”, starring Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and, special guest stars, Michael Gambon and Katherine Jenkins. If you still haven’t had enough, add to the mix a new Strictly Come Dancing special, a Top Gear special edition where Doctor Slow, Hamster and Jeremy Clarkson retrace the steps of the Three Wise Men on their way to Bethelem, a Royle Family Christmas Special “Joe’s Crackers” and Jamie’s Christmas Lock-In starring Jamie Oliver.
BBC Radio2 will get into the retro-act with a special retrospective of Kenny Everett’s Christmas Box and the long-awaited reunion of French & Saunders in three, 2-hour specials airing Boxing Day, New Years Day and January 2011.
You didn’t believe me, did you, when I said BBC and ITV program schedulers take this time of year very seriously.