Dr Peter Capaldi is a real family guy

Inside Television

What does the term "family viewing" actually mean to broadcasters? This question takes on special importance at Christmas and a glance at the schedules might lead you to conclude that "family viewing" is just a euphemism for the kind of children's TV that adults are forced to sit through, but it needn't be that way.

In the spirit of cross-generational harmony, we might see the introduction of Peter Capaldi as the new Doctor Who on Christmas Day as a real sign of hope. At 55, Capaldi is 24 years older than his predecessor, Matt Smith, which suggests that, having captured the hearts of younger audiences, the BBC's flagship family show is finally skewing older. Perhaps 2014 will be the year when family viewing is reclaimed for the whole family – and that includes grown-ups too.

The endless joy of carols and Capra

I'd like to plead the special circumstances regarding Christmas repeats. It's fashionable to grumble about the lack of original programming on at this time of year, but there's a world of difference between boring repetition and comforting tradition.

Take the BBC's Carols from King's, which has hardly changed since 1930. Or Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life, which is such a good Christmas film it should be viewed on Pancake Day, Diwali and Halloween as well.

In the days of terrestrial-only television, it was understandable if audiences craved variety, but now there's no excuse to moan. If an experimental one-off Serbian drama is really what gets you in the festive spirit, internet TV and box-sets have got you covered.

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