Yes! It's that time of year again, when television bosses have run out of ideas for new programmes, so they dredge through the archives, cobble together a schedule of programmes with vaguely tangential relationships - and call it a Theme Night!
This time it's the turn of Scottish education, with BBC2 (Scotland) presenting a festive Teachers' Night In. TES Scotland has managed to obtain advance notice of the evening's schedule, compiled by John Mitchell.
6pm Hello from Helen:
Education Minister Helen Liddell welcomes Scottish educationists to a holiday night of Education, Education and Education.
6.05 Countdown - A Christmas Special:
How long will it really take for the English Higher Still to be introduced? Richard Whiteley and Carol Vorderman can't work out the answers, but today's contestants (Mr Poyner from Lanarkshire and Mr Tuck from the Scottish Qualifications Authority) have a ding-dong battle in store.
A special Christmas edition of the popular soap based on life in the streets and suburbs of East Renfrewshire. Eleanor's in seventh heaven because the education authority has come top of everyone's quality assurance list - especially their own!
7.00 Sesame Street:
A special edition of the programme, broadcast direct from the heart of Clackmannan, where today's exciting topic is an early literacy initiative that's taken the educational world by storm.
Keir's letters today are: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z - and that's only in Part One!
7.15 Top of the Form
Willis Pickard, TES Scotland editor, hosts this 1990s edition of the famous schools' quiz programme. In line with 5-14 guidelines, contestants are only asked questions when Pickard judges they are ready to be assessed on their learning outcomes. (NB This programme may over-run making subsequent programmes later than scheduled).
7.45 The Money Programme
Up the Bleak Midwinter: Helen Liddell explains the principles of "annuality'' in educational spending, and outlines the mysterious process whereby pound;2 billion of actual spend becomes pound;4 billion in all the newspapers.
8.15 Never Mind the Quality,
Feel the Width of the Prospectus Dr Brian Boyd debunks the common parental myth that the quality of a school can be judged on how much glossy promotional material itproduces.
8.45 Changing Classrooms
Karen Smiler gives a primary teacher the chance to change classrooms with her secondary counterpart. Watch the look of bewildered amazement on Miss Thompson's face as she views the drab walls in Greenlands Comprehensive - and see Mr Fraser's gasp of astonishment as he contemplates the decorative effects in Primary 6's room.
Soon, it's "all change'', as Mr Fraser strips the primary walls completely bare and coats them with pale brown anaglypta. Meanwhile, Miss Thompson's got the design team working on some attractive origami hanging-displays for Room 14, plus a set of comfy cushions in the reading corner.
Always on hand with a tool-box, a glue-stick, and a set of practical tips about how to make the changes workable is Handy Helen ("a liddle help here, and a liddle help there") - and just wait for fireworks when the teams see each other's new rooms!
9.15 Ready, Steady, Teach!
A celebrity special programme tries to get the correct recipe for improving educational attainment. Chief HMI Douglas Oosler takes awoodwork class in an Edinburgh comprehensive, while Italian heartthrob and union activist DinoFerrari teaches Classical Greek at a private school on the Corstorphine side of Glasgow. Nobody ends up any the wiser but it's great fun for the audience!
Lesson plans on Ceefax page 1985.
9.45 Allo, Allo!
Hilarious classic edition of the linguistically-challenged comedy, set in the committee rooms of the modern languages action group. Special guests "Meester Dick'' and "Mees Isobel'' try to confirm the supremacy of a communicative approach to modern languages backed by rigid grammar structures. But none of the teenagers seem interested any more. "I vill say zis only once,'' insists resistance leader Big John: "I vant ze attainments to go oop!"
10.10 Can't Learn, Won't Learn
A spin-off from the highly successful home economics sit-com, Can't Cook, Won't Cook, this pilot episode is set in the learning support department of an inner-city comprehensive, where Class 4W has been sent for whole-class remediation. Broadcast after the 9pm watershed, this programme contains explicit language.
10.40 University Challenge
A special "value-added'' edition. Jeremy Paxman gives a socio-economic profile of each contestant before asking any questions - and then adjusts the marking system after each round, to allow for correlation of improvement weightings since the last question was asked. St Andrews University takes on Reid Kerr College, Paisley - and a surprise result awaits!
11.10 The Cook Report -Sutherland's Law
An alarming and revelatory document filmed with hidden cameras in the offices of the General Teaching Council. Could the GTC really be making takeover plans to become the largest employer in the country as well as the biggest qualification awarding body? Would it be safe to have so much centralised power? And what deals have been brokered behind closed doors with the unions?
11.40 Holiday '99
Are package holidays worth the money? And what's the best way to avoid paying top rates for holidays in high season? Holiday '99 joins John Stodter in Aberdeen City, where a four-term academic year will allow low-season holiday breaks and looks like paying big dividends to councillors with school-age families. Should other authorities follow suit?
12.10am No Mean City
A no-holds barred docu-soap following a day in the life of "Ken'', a beleaguered director of education in the country's second capital. Ken's trying to see through a series of school closures designed to enhance the city's educational provision. But not everyone agrees, and some violent confrontations arise during council meetings. Edited for language content. Contains violence.
12.40 Late Night Feature Film - Independents' Days
Judith Sischy stars in a widescreen presentation of this blockbuster film. Mystery surrounds the increasing numbers of children invading the private sector - until the enigmatic Dr MacBeath mounts an enormously expensive research study to reveal what everyone already knew in the first place: the children are all offspring of teachers working in the state sector to pay for their kids' private education. Harrowing final scenes.
2.10-2.15 The Epilogue
Mgr Francisco Pigniatello looks back at a lifetime devoted to education - and wonders why he's been scheduled to appear so late at night instead of heading the show?