Christmas in TV land is a bit like celebrating Yuletide with a dysfunctional family. There's ITV, the desperately enthusiastic uncle forcing everyone to play Twister. BBC1 and BBC2, the staid grandparents fobbing you off with well-meaning gifts such as the Complete Dickens and a year's subscription to National Geographic. And then there's Channel 4, the trendy teenager who thinks, like, Christmas is so totally over. But still wants his fair share of the nosh and presents anyway...
This year brings a Doctor Who special (pictured) with Kylie Minogue courtesy of BBC1. It is also filling a Fools-and-Horses-shaped hole in its schedule by resurrecting a slightly dog-eared To the Manor Born, with Penelope Keith, plus special episodes of Little Britain and The Catherine Tate Show.
ITV is playing against type by laying on a lavish costume drama: a version of The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens. Sir Derek Jacobi (see My Best Teacher, page 12), Toby Jones and Zoe Wannamaker star.
Meanwhile, Channel 4 is up to old tricks, airing an allegedly hilarious The Friday Night Project Christmas and New Year special, Monarchy: Windsors, a history of the Royal Family presented by David Starkey, and the menacingly-titled Christmas with Gordon Ramsay.