Then again there are people who will watch anything and miss nothing. On 77 channels.

Paul Morley is proud to be one of them
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The Independent Culture
In a way that will eventually seem quite traditional, I'll start my Christmas Day with a 6am Through The Keyhole (Living), switching halfway through to experience the simple pain of MTV's So 90s. By 8am UK Gold will be unravelling some strange, mid-period episodes of Neighbours, and the Discovery Channel will be charting Arthur C Clarke's Mysterious Universe, which couldn't be more mysterious than mid-period Neighbours. At 9am on Granada Breeze An Intimate Portrait of Lindsay Wagner will take me nicely into UK Horizons' Baywatch - The Dolphin's View at 10am.

Midday I'll be torn between Con-quest of the Planet of the Apes, Smashie and Nicey's Top Of The Pops on UK Play, and An Intimate Portrait Of Jessica Tandy on Granada Breeze. Then again, I might watch the celebrity tennis tournament organised by Cliff Richard in Birmingham (12 noon and again at 4pm, Sky Sports 2).

At 1pm I might make things easy by watching a few hours of Rolf's Animal Hospital on UK Horizons (12pm- 5pm), breaking up Rolf and the little pups with An Intimate Portrait of Mary Tyler Moore on Granada Breeze at 2pm. I'll check if The Queen can out-craze Rolf, and then at 5pm it's the long- awaited Countdown Grand Final on C4, which just beats the Intimate Portrait of Victoria Principle on Granada Breeze. At 5.40pm it'll be time to begin the complicated juggle of Christmas night.

This might involve watching the untold hours of EastEnders and Coronation Street, some Simpsons on Sky, all three of the Who Wants To Be A Christmas Millionaire? programmes (the closest I'll get to a Christmas Day religious experience), the 8pm Intimate Portrait of Audrey Hepburn, a few guilty seconds of BBC1's David Copperfield, a 9pm showing on Challenge of Ted Rogers' 3-2-1, a profile of Jimi Hendrix on UK Arena (8pm) and of course the official film of the 1970 World Cup on Sky. Then there's Porridge on UK Gold. The new world is made up of so much old stuff.

At midnight, I'll be seasonally mindless enough to find it tough to choose between Disney's Dr Quinn The Medicine Woman and The Dukes Of Hazzard on TNT. Having chosen, I'll be in exactly the right state to use Euro- sport's 1am showing of the Miss Fitness Europe contest from Budapest as a way of approaching Chevy Chase's Vacation (ITV, 3am). Watching such a film at four in the morning is God's way of telling you that you're watching far too much television, or that you've run out of Cointreau, but it's also a telecidal way of getting through to the 4.40am showing of Prisoner Cell Block H on Channel 5. I'll go to sleep mildly anxious that I missed the 4pm Intimate Portrait of Gloria Estafan on Granada Breeze. Of course, I could spend the day not watching any television at all. But what kind of attitude is that? What's Christmas without television?

Christmas is a festival of television. There's the television on the four main terrestrial channels, which work hard to give shape and rhyme to the season, and treat Christmas Day as some kind of special day. And there's the television on the 77 less main channels, which act as if Christmas Day was just another Saturday. Which in many senses it is. Then again, it may not be Christmas Day on most of the channels that come to you digitally or through your dish but it's certainly ... special. I'll be feeling special on Christmas Day as I watch Siege - Castles Of War at 6pm on The History Channel. Tonight: the role of a 14th-century castle as a fortified bastion. As they say in the Gap ads, that's holiday.

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