No, no, no: Radio Times takes a Santa pause on its cover

Santa Claus, the retail industry's poster boy for lavish spending in the build-up to Christmas, has been ditched as the cover star for this year's festive edition of the Radio Times.

As families tighten their belts and attempt an "austerity Christmas", the television listings bible has abandoned its tradition of using Father Christmas on the front of its festive issue in favour of two Christmas trees drawn by artist Kate Forrester.

"This is going to be a difficult Christmas for many people and we have tried a cover that's nostalgic and makes people feel warm," said the magazine's editor, Ben Preston.

It's not the first time the publication has dropped Santa in tough economic times. He was left off the cover in the wake of 1992's Black Wednesday, and after the bubble burst earlier this century.

Mr Preston added: "Christmas doesn't start when supermarkets start pumping "Jingle Bells" and Slade over the speakers, it's when families take out their highlighter pens and look forward to the shows that will give them many happy hours of viewing."