Your Christmas viewing and listening

The Sweet Makers at Christmas - cast photo
It's looking like a thin Christmas for telly as far as vintage lovers are concerned! So get your vintage fix in early, as BBC2 has a couple of treats for us this week. On 15 December - this Friday - there's The Sweet Makers at Christmas, where the confectioners explore Christmas sweets enjoyed by the Georgians, Victorians and people of the 1920s. The following night it's showing Feud: Bette and Joan, about the two superstars' career revival and intense rivalry in the 1960s from 16 December.

Over Christmas itself most programmes appear to be either modern, or set much earlier than the 20th century. The BBC's flagship period drama is Little Women, while ITV is highlighting Victoria. Here's my pick of 20th century things to entertain you while you're digesting your turkey.

If I spot anything else interesting, I'll update this page.

BBC television
1950s detective Father Brown returns with a Christmas special. Solving crime has to be juggled with the village pantomime by the kindly priest. (BBC1, 18 December, 1:45)

Ballerina Darcey Bussell is doing a documentary, Looking For Fred Astaire. In it she traces Astaire's career and how he developed his dancing skills. (BBC1, 21 December, 10:45pm)

If you prefer your dancing with more of a disco beat, Bruno Tonioli will be doing a show celebrating the 40th anniversary of Saturday Night Fever on BBC2, 22 December, 9pm. It sounds like the story of how the film came to be made will be fascinating. (Argh, and now I'm getting flashbacks to a karaoke night with my workmates - Ben the Reviews Ed's falsetto is the stuff of legend.)

Not enough white suits for you? Rebirth of the King will tell the story of Elvis' Las Vegas years. (BBC4, 29 December, 10pm)

Oh, and there's the inevitable Call the Midwife Christmas special. (BBC1, 25 December, 7:40pm)

BBC Radio
On Radio 3, Clare Teal will be teaming up with BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales for an evening of traditional tunes and jazz. On Radio 4, Christine McVie - from Fleetwood Mac - will be choosing her Desert Island Discs. I always find the stories of 70s rock bands fascinating, and Fleetwood Mac in particular. David Attenborough's also looking back, reading from his memoirs Adventures of a Young Naturalist.

ITV channels
With no Agatha Christie from the BBC, ITV ensures lovers of vintage crime won't go wanting - Maigret In Montmartre is showing on 24 December at 8:30pm. Sadly that's about it for ITV1.

Other channels
Channel 5 is serving up an Agatha Christie! Crooked House's cast includes Gillian Anderson and Christina Hendricks. (24 December, 6pm)
Murdoch Mysteries
This year's Murdoch Mysteries Christmas Special is on Alibi on 21 December, 8pm. I have a soft spot for the Edwardian mystery series; it's cheerfully anachronistic, slightly steampunk, and perhaps it's not high quality but it's enjoyable. (Season 11 begins on Alibi in January.) Alibi's also showing the excellent Joan Hickson Miss Marples again on 22-24 December, and 25-27 December is pretty much all Father Brown, all day.

Yesterday is going heavy on the 60s music on 24 December - mostly episodes of Top Of The Pops 2 - and serving up mainly 80s sounds on the 25 December, though there's a big slab of mid-60s to mid-70s at midday.

Gold's got a lot of Morecambe and Wise in the run up to Christmas day. Drama is showing a truly terrifying amount of Call the Midwife - an episode every day.

Thank goodness for Talking Pictures! The channel can be relied upon for vintage films all the time, but they're interspersed with fascinating festive newsreels and public information films over Christmas. Those should be both fascinating and novel.


  1. Sounds much better than our television offerings here. We did just watch, The Year Without a Santa Claus from the early 70's which is great for the retro stop-motion animation. Otherwise, it is looking rather limited.
    Guess we'll load up the old dvd player and watch Divine screaming about not getting cha cha heels for Christmas. Again.

  2. Thank you for this! I've put Bette, Elvis and Crooked House in the diary. I am sure there will be some films too, maybe on Film 4.

  3. Saturday Night Fever is the only thing tickling my fancy. I can't believe I managed to get into Walsall ABC and watch it when it came out, I was only 11!
    We've got loads of art house and subtitled films to watch over the mad period, that'll do me. xxx

  4. I'd be tuning in to The Sweet Makers at Christmas. Thanks for the tip, as I might have missed it otherwise. Belgian television is usually utterly unexciting at Christmas. xxx

  5. No need to buy the Radio Times when I've got you, Mim! Happy viewing and listening.

  6. Am hoping to avoid all telly over Christmas but might just try to sneak in the Elvis if I am back up in Scotland by then. Thank you for highlighting all the stuff worth watching, Mim. I hope that you have a fab festive season. Xx


Post a Comment

Popular Posts