Tis the season to be jolly, eat way too much, spend insane amounts on gifts and of course crowd around the TV, however is Christmas TV degrading in quality?
The biggest war that exists at Christmas time is that between the BBC and ITV as they try to pull viewers towards their respective ‘big shows’. The BBC had specials for; My Family, The Royal Family, Catherine Tate, Doctor Who, Hamlet & Outnumbered. Where as ITV followed with; Ant & Dec’s Christmas Show, The All Star Impressions Show & Agatha Christie’s Poirot.
Out of all those listed above I watched four of them, three from the BBC, and one from ITV; and I must say I wasn’t impressed at all, here is a brief critique of those which I did watch.
My Family: A follow-on from the hit family comedy which follows Ben, Susan, Michael & Janey Harper through a Christmas several years in the future. Whist this was a must watch for any My Family fan such as myself, however anyone tuning in for the first time would have instantly been turned off my viewing previous episodes, which is a shame. My Family has produced nine fantastic series, a comic relief special and now four Christmas specials, however it was clear from the episode that aired over Christmas that the writers have done all that they can do with this, with even the canned laughter at a minimum the lack of original comedy content has effectively laid this nine-year old show to rest.
Catherine Tate: This special follows on from Catherine’s most formidable and popular character ‘Nan’, as she finds herself playing the Scrooge at Christmas, it resembled the version of ‘A Christmas Carol’ which would have probably made Charles Dickens turn in his grave. ‘Nan’ spent almost 45 minutes looking back on her past and the error of her ways with only a few little chuckles raised along the way by both me, and the audience it was originally screened to. It was nice to see Madness do a duet at the end, but to have a sketch show which is usually half an hour in length, donate a full hour to just one-act seems to be, in my opinion, a failure from the off set.
Outnumbered: Once again this was a follow-on from the two series show produced by the BBC. The plot carried on from where series two ended with Dad being in an old age home, and this episode seemed to focus all its jokes towards Mum and Dad wanting to scam an insurance company. There were two huge shocks to this episode firstly how much Jake’s (played by Tyger Drew-Honey) voice has broken since the last show aired, and the timing of the screening; This show was aired at the most peculiar time of 10:30; considering this is a ‘family’ comedy, with very little bad language why was it put on so late? Beats me. However it was nice to see the Brockman family back together and it was entertaining and raised more chuckles than My Family.
The only ITV show that I watched was Ant & Dec’s Christmas Show. First things first I am a sucker for Ant & Dec, I think they make a great double act and 8 times out of 10 produce quality stuff. This wasnt once of those times. They did have more stars than the other shows, dropping names such as; Robbie Williams, Simon Cowell, John & Edward, Piers Morgan & The Saturdays; however their sketches seemed rushed and not up to their usual high standards. The best part of the show was the ‘carol’ at the end which saw a ‘sing off’ between Robbie Williams and ‘PJ & Duncan’, apart from that it was a very very poor version of their Take-a-way show.
Those were the only specials that I watched, and to be honest I was very disappointed. You would be right in saying that almost all of them were based around comedy, and comedy is a very personal thing, however compare the comedy in those shows to the Only Fools And Horses Christmas Specials and the stuff that was released this year fell well short. I have heard from my sister that Doctor Who was excellent and based on what the people I follow on twitter said; All Star Impressions Show titled as a ‘fun-packed impressions show which is sure to be hilarious’ didnt even raise one laugh between an entire family of 5.
In a time of year where a broadcasters TV schedule is ‘hyped up’ months before the Christmas period it would seem that even though viewing figures are higher than ever before, more and more of us are thinking that what is broadcast isn’t of sufficient quality.
(If you did see a Christmas special that I didn’t please write your comment below of what you thought. I would also like your comments on whether you disagree with my ‘critique’ of those shows which I did watch.)