Rhiannon Harries: Christmas TV is best when it's out with the new and in with the old

Related Topics

As traditional Christmas stories go, it's not quite up there with the Nativity, but when the BBC announces its schedules each December, you can rely on a nearly identical sequence of events. This month, the tale has panned out predictably once more, with lots of griping over the number of repeats – a whopping-sounding 600 hours of them. It's almost as familiar as Del Boy falling through the bar in Only Fools and Horses, which we'll no doubt be seeing for the nth time at some point over the coming weeks.

I'm with the Beeb on this one, though. If anything, there's been too much new stuff on TV this year. I could make do with some vintage Doctor Who (never got the David Tennant thing, sorry). And since the various instalments of the Pirates of the Caribbean films (Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow, below) are more or less indistinguishable, they could have definitely got away with repeating whichever one was on last year to save a few more quid.

Christmas has a strange power to make reactionaries of us all, and novelty during the festive period should be reserved for battery-operated hamsters and their ilk. Elsewhere, mindless repetition is a tradition to be observed at all cost. (Why else would so many people who never ordinarily set foot inside a church, and even atheists like me, be celebrating at all?)

Family estrangements have nearly taken place over people making crazy, dangerous changes to the familiar routine – swapping real trees for fake, binning tattered decorations, giving roast lamb a whirl instead of turkey. My sister cried when she arrived home one year to find I had given our Christmas lunch a Mediterranean make-over.

The same rules apply to television. A Christmas special of an established fave is about as maverick as things should get. Besides, in my experience, the combined effects of food, alcohol and too many bodies crammed on to the three-piece suite will ensure you snooze through at least 50 per cent of your viewing, so any portion of the licence fee spent on high-quality original drama ought to be saved for a time of year when people stand a chance of actually seeing it. The Guns of Navarone – now that's a film to sleep through. Way to go, BBC2!

Rituals are few and far between for most of us. Thanks to global warming, even the seasons no longer provide reliable annual events in the natural world, so it's understandable that we should be so attached to certain constants in our lives – even if they do come in the unlikely forms of Captain Mainwaring and Casablanca.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, Graduate, SQL, VBA)

£45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, ...

Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Perl, Bash, SQL)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Per...

C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB6, WinForms)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...

C# Developer (Genetic Algorithms, .NET 4.5, TDD, SQL, AI)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Jihadist militants leading away captured Iraqi soldiers in Tikrit, Iraq, in June  

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Robert Fisk
India's philosopher, environmental activist, author and eco feminist Vandana Shiva arrives to give a press conference focused on genetically modified seeds on October 10, 2012  

Meet Vandana Shiva: The deserving heir to Mahatma Ghandi's legacy

Peter Popham
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home