Unless you’re a fan of darts, repeats of Morecambe and Wise, or a dose of humbug Eastenders-style, it’s a fair bet that you look to movies for your yuletide viewing kicks. So, for those of you in need of a festive film or three to make those hangovers more appealing, here’s our pick from this year’s Christmas TV. For the benefit of this article, the following covers channels 1-5, with Harry Potter only getting a mention if we’re running short of material.
Friday, December 23
Now that you can forget about the daily grind for a while, what’s for starters? Although the eternally-irritating Emma Thompson doesn’t sound ideal, the fact that she’s alongside Tom Hanks in the premiere of Saving Mr Banks should act as a bit of a sweetener. If you’re lucky enough to be breaking up earlier, there’s the original Miracle on 34th Street and (gulp) Oz the Great and Powerful in the afternoon.
Top of the Tree: Miracle on 34th Street (1947), C4, 12.10pm – Ring in sick, if necessary.
Top Turkey: Oz the Great and Powerful (2013), BBC1, 3.10pm – Disappointing doesn’t even begin to cover it.
What better day for a battle of the Scrooges? BBC1 is showing the 2009 Jim Carrey-voiced animated version, Channel 4 is treating us to the updated 1988 Bill Murray vehicle Scrooged, as well as 1992’s The Muppet Christmas Carol, while 5 has the daddy of them all, the 1951 Alistair Sim classic (on twice in case you miss the first showing). Elsewhere, Doctor Zhivago, Jason and the Argonauts and Splash! provide more than adequate alternatives.
Top of the Tree: Scrooge: A Christmas Carol (1951), C5, 5.10pm & 12.55am – Gold standard of the Dickens tale in all its black-and-white brilliance.
Top Turkey: Surviving Christmas (2004), BBC1, 1.00am – A bored-looking Ben Affleck is never a good thing.
The observant amongst you will have noticed by now that each date nominates a pick of the day (‘top of the tree’) and one to avoid (‘top turkey’). For the biggy, the choice isn’t that clear-cut, as all the stops have been pulled out in terms of family entertainment. On any other day, the network premiere of Frozen would win hands-down, but add It’s a Wonderful Life, The Lion King, Home Alone, Singin’ in the Rain, Love Acutally – not to mention the premiere of Dallas Buyers Club – and you have quite a conundrum. The fact that none of them get brownie points due to non-clashes with Eastenders, doesn’t help either.
Top of the Tree: The Wizard of Oz (1939), C5, 2.10pm – And why not?
Top Turkey: Scrooge (1970), C5, 11.50am – Because A Christmas Carol just doesn’t work as a musical and also produces a decidedly unscary Jacob Marley.
If the day before looks like a banquet fit for a king, today gives comparatively meagre rations. There’s little in the way of rich pickings here, just a lot of distinctly average offerings. If you decide to shun the post-Christmas social scene, you could do worse than children’s’ classics like Sleeping Beauty and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. If you fancy a siesta instead, try the original Kevin Costner marathon, Dances with Wolves.
Top of the Tree: How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014), BBC1, 4.30pm – Out-performed its illustrious predecessor at the international box office; here’s your chance to see why.
Top Turkey: Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World (2011), C4, 11.35am – Take this opportunity to study the form for the day’s horse racing.
Tuesday, December 27
It’s all about the 80s today. Four famous hits of the decade are in store, with Dirty Dancing, Teen Wolf and, nearly a year after the untimely passing of David Bowie (can you believe it?), Labyrinth. All three are blown out of the water, though, by the original and best of the Indiana Jones series, Raiders of the Lost Ark, so it’s a little bit of an unfair contest when all said and done.
Top of the Tree: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), BBC1, 1.35pm – Like we said, the original and best.
Top Turkey: Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen (2004), C4, 11.30pm – See Spy Kids 4.
Wednesday, December 28
Two cinematic heavyweights are coming your way, and the best thing about it is that they are being screened over nine hours apart. Say good morning to The African Queen, whilst night owls will no doubt be thrilled for the billionth time with Jaws. Wallace & Gromit, Indiana Jones and Mr Bean are some of the characters providing the best of the rest, putting this on a par with Christmas Day.
Top of the Tree: Jaws (1975), ITV, 10.25pm – Always seems to find its way onto the mainstream schedule at this time of year, blessed are we.
Top Turkey: The Alamo (2004), BBC2, 11.20am – If you’re going to put a western on over Christmas, at least make it a good one.
Thursday, December 29
Boxing Day looks average, but here we have possibly the grimmest 24 hours of the lot. If there is a day/night when you may well have to do with such tripe as It was Alright in the 1970s or search for sitcom repeats, it’s this. Indiana Jones could come to your rescue once again (in The Last Crusade, not The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull), or maybe the long-overdue premiere of 1981’s The Great Muppet Caper, starring John Cleese, will tickle your fancy.
Top of the Tree: The Last Crusade (1989), BBC1, 1.55pm – Why didn’t they finish Indiana Jones on this high note?
Top Turkey: Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008), BBC1, 11.20pm – Will always remain an insult to the great franchise.
Friday, December 30
It’s the last real day of Christmastime and the final one before thoughts of kicking 2016 into touch gather steam. So what’s going to get you over the line? In case you miss it on Tuesday, Labyrinth is available for a second time this week. Other than that, BBC1 are offering more animations than ever, with Kung Fu Panda 2 and Wreck-It Ralph the more recent of the bunch.
Top of the Tree: Labyrinth (1986), C5, 2.00pm – We’ll give it top billing this time, for sentimental reasons if nothing else.
Top Turkey: Jaws 2 (1978), ITV, 11.05pm – Not the worst of the shark sequels, but bad enough.
Without doubt there are some notable absentees, but if that little lot’s not enough for you then there’s always Sky and Freeview. All that remains to be said is a very merry Christmas from all of us here at Roobla!