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19th December 2012 14:00:00
Posted by Nick Bryan

One Man's Struggle With The Christmas TV Schedules!

What problems do you have to overcome when studying the Christmas TV listings? Digital Fix TV editor Nick reveals his deep inner truths.
In my capacity as Digital Fix TV blogging machine, I bought myself a copy of the festive Radio Times, as "research". Looking at the Christms Day schedule in particular, I find myself struggling at times.

To help readers isolate and identify their own conflicting feelings, I've worked out the two prime reasons for my confusion:

"This just ain't my thing..."

I'm the first to admit Christmas schedules are not really constructed with me in mind. Family crowd-pleasers like Strictly Come Dancing don't really fit into my exclusive diet of well-reviewed scripted shows. The most widely disrespected thing I watch voluntarily is probably Glee, and although that is at times quite stupid, it doesn't really compare to many primetime ITV entertainment formats.

I could pretend not to be a telly snob, but I don't think I'm fooling anyone. Don't get me wrong, I end up watching this stuff over Christmas, because December 25th is the one time of year I accept we choose TV channels democratically. So, yes, bring on Strictly straight after Doctor Who, roll up EastEnders, I see there's even a Paul O'Grady show about dogs on ITV. I'll cope, not as if I have to watch this stuff the rest of the year.

But there is a bigger problem than having to watch not-my-thing shows over Christmas, and this is a problem that genuinely does sometimes send me scuttling from the room. Ready?

"I can't watch the Christmas Special, I'm not caught up!"

There are, believe it or not, shows on Christmas Day that could well be "my thing". I don't think I'd object to BBC One's Call The Midwife - I like a competent heartwarming drama - and I've heard plenty of positive reviews of ITV's Downton Abbey from people I respect. One day, I'll catch up with it.

But for now, I haven't seen a single episode of either, and my DVD-trained completist mind can't stop telling me that I have to watch series in order. So leaping in between later years, which is the case with both those specials, would be cheating. Imagine the spoilers! Imagine the slight ruination when I possibly maybe watch those shows in the future!

Realistically, most Christmas specials make an effort to be watchable for casual viewers. I've seen all the Doctor Who Christmas specials of recent years, and they always break their back making sure everything is clear and simple - hell, they do it so much, it makes the stories feel weirdly disconnected and simplistic sometimes. Other shows probably do the same.

Yet still. I watched the Christmas episode of Rev in isolation last year to write a review for this website and although I was still amused, part of my brain was screaming "You can't do this! You haven't seen the episodes before it! Close your eyes and hide in the bathroom!"

Weird. Anyway, this is the problem I find with Christmas TV scheduling. It's either light entertainment, or "proper" shows that I feel I shouldn't watch. Fortunately, I watch so much telly that I'm up to date with loads of programmes. Now, readers, this is your chance to tell me I'm not alone - everyone else has this problem too, right?

... Right?

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