Welcome ye merry gentleman, and gentlewomen, to my top telly picks for this Christmas! I will emphasise the point again – these are my Christmas telly picks and no doubt yours will differ considerably according to taste, bit like when one is seasoning a curry. I will horrify and shock you all by saying I don’t watch Call the Midwife and I have never seen an episode of Downton Abbey. Strictly Come Dancing? Let’s not and say we did. Hey, look, I like science fiction and comedy!
So, armed with the Christmas Radio Times last week, I wrote down the selection box of televisual treats I am looking forward to seeing this Christmas… O come all ye faithful:
A Christmas Carol, 20:00, Channel 5, Saturday 22nd December
It feels as though there have been as many adaptations of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol than there have been of, well… literally any of his stories, but this humble TV-movie version boasts Sir Patrick Stewart as the miser Ebenezer Scrooge, so it’s got my interest instantly. It probably won’t top of the king of all the adaptations though, which we all know is the Muppets. Yes it is. Don’t argue with me. It’s futile.
The Sarah Millican Television Programme, 22:30, BBC2, Sunday 23rd December
I had the honour of seeing South Shields’ blonde princess live at the Hammersmith Apollo earlier this year, so naturally I am a fan and adore the wonderful comedy of the cake pigeon. She’ll be doing similar to what I am doing now, discussing her favourite Christmas television choices. Except she’ll be doing it on TV, in front of a rapt studio audience and have Downton Abbey’s Hugh Bonneville with her. Guess you can’t have it all.
Doctor Who, 17:15, BBC1 & BBC1 HD, Christmas Day
Oh dear. What will this be like without Amy and Rory? How will we cope watching Doctor Who with Matt Smith but sans Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill? Well, quite simply, I am going to focus on the magnificent Richard E. Grant guest starring in this festive episode and not think about it too much. Though how festive it can be with rumours circulating that the episode is akin to the terrifying weeping angels-but-with-snowmen is yet to be determined… Expect scary glacial stuff.
Moominland Tales: the Life of Tove Jansson, 21:00, BBC4, Boxing Day
This I am really looking forward to watching. Whether you have loved the Moomins from an early age or have been swept up in their resurgence in the last few years, this documentary will shed light on their reclusive and brilliant creator, Tove Jansson. There is something so different about the Moomins that sets them apart from other contemporary children’s stories that have been embraced by adults; fans of Herge and his creation Tintin will enjoy this too.
The Richest Songs in the World, 21:00, BBC4, Friday 28th December
In a culture where we are subjected to endless ‘chart-list’ programmes which are just full of C-list celebrities discussing their favourite Number One, or reasons why you really did like Duran Duran but never wanted to admit it, this seems quite a refreshing change as it is an official run down of the songs that have earned the most amount of royalties in terms of cover versions, re-releases and advertising. I think there are going to be a few surprises in here and hopefully not too many stand-up comedians giving their unwanted opinion. Interesting stuff.
Climbed Every Mountain: the Story behind the Sound of Music, 20:15, BBC2, Saturday 29th December
Hang on, before all you non-fans start running for the Austrian mountains to get away (although the joke will be on you if you do), this documentary focusing on the lives of the real Von Trapps will be highlighting things the film didn’t portray, and wanted you to believe. And judging by the pre write-up, it will be everything about the classic musical… (except for the fact it was set in Salzburg.) And come on, Sue Perkins is going to be presenting. Expect witty remarks about fictional goatherds, too.
Freddie Mercury: the Great Pretender Director’s Cut, 21:00, BBC4, Saturday 29th December
BBC4 devotes quite a bit of airtime on the 29th to Freddie Mercury and Queen as they show this new documentary, which is then followed by their 1986 Magic Tour concert in Budapest and then another concert from 1975 after that. This documentary focuses more on Freddie than Queen, as film-makers continue in their quest to broadcast and analyse as much about Freddie Mercury as humanly possible until the subject has been bled dry.
Charlie Brooker’s 2012 Wipe, 22:00, BBC2, New Year’s Day
Review show after review show after review show… but are any as funny as Charlie Brooker’s? I highly doubt it. So if you’re a fan, watch this as Mr Brooker gives his opinions on the shape of the world in 2012.
Star Trek: the True Story, 21:00, Discovery Channel, 3rd January
Very, very specialist I realise this. But for the millions of Trekkies/ Trekkers [delete as appropriate] out there any new documentary series about science-fiction’s most successful franchise ever is going to get tractor beamed in by the fans in a love for the show that will live for years after we make first contact. Featuring all-new interviews and footage, this is what I’ll be watching with my giant over-sized tubs of Cheese Footballs and honey-roasted KP cashews.
And no, I won’t be forgetting about the Snowman and the Snowdog, 20:00, Channel 4, Christmas Eve.
The only thing to say at this juncture is that I am very pleased to hear it has been created with traditional hand-drawings and not CGI. Should be a worthy continuation of a true children’s classic.
Have a wonderful Christmas whatever you watch… and see you in the new year!