This Christmas let's celebrate the demise of a fixed television schedule

Thanks to the cold weather and TV on demand, I've caught up on a whole year's worth of great (and not so great) Christmas TV

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The Independent Online

The big day at this time of year in our household isn't Christmas Day, which is usually a quiet affair, but Boxing Day, when friends and relatives descend, and the house is filled with a healthy amount of havoc. There's a hapless routine to this day that I've come to cherish: I will nearly always eat chocolate for breakfast, Nanna will always tell a saucy joke, cackle loudly and flirt outrageously with any men at the table (she's still got it, even at 94), while Cliff (my grandad, not by blood, but by being around for as long as I remember) sips a glass of Stella.

Mum will always get in a tizz over the dinner not being hot enough, (her idea of "hot enough" is if it removes a layer of skin when you touch it) and Dad will always forget to do something important. This year he forgot the starters and remembered them just after we finished the main, so we had them as a sort of pre-dessert snack. Yum. The most important part of the Christmas break, though, is not the burning hot turkey, or the presents, or watching grown men hide in the toilet until Nanna has moved her romantic endeavours onto someone else.

The true meaning of Christmas, for me at least, is telly.

Thanks to the Christmas break and the cold weather, I've been happily hibernating with only a trough of mince pies and the TV for company. Thanks to my parents' assiduous recording skills, I've finally discovered the brilliant Homeland, which Stefano has been telling me to watch for months now – mainly so he can chat to yet another person about the hotness of Morena Baccarin. I've got round to watching Red Dwarf X (as hilarious as ever) and seen the heart-warmingly festive Call the Midwife, and watched that annual staple, the slightly schmaltzy Christmas episode of Doctor Who.

Of course, some parts of this year's TV schedule were a bit of a let-down. Out-takes from Morecambe and Wise and old repeats of Ab Fab hardly made for crackling viewing. So it doesn't come as a shock that this year's Christmas Day viewing numbers were lower than last year, with EastEnders' figures at their lowest for a decade. A bit of further reading reveals this data doesn't include viewers who record the shows and watch them later, or those who use catch-up services like BBC iPlayer and 4OD, like me.

I suspect that in reality people aren't watching less, but choosing to watch what they want when it suits them. If this signals the death knoll of a fixed Christmas TV schedule, we shouldn't mourn the loss of it, but rather celebrate the fact it frees us up to fully enjoy our idiosyncratic family routines without having to keep one eye on the day's TV fixtures. Besides, the Christmas holidays will be over before you know it, and those cold January nights provide the perfect time to catch up on all that great TV.