Well, the ITV1 Christmas schedules are out. And do you know what? They're making a bit more of an effort this time out. There's no cynical attempt to cash in on a popular BBC One comedy by chucking out a South Bank Show Special on the big day this time round.
The following shows are flagged up as highlights on ITV's Press Centre. Which we've got access to, because we've somehow convinced them we're a legitimate media outlet (although they'll presumably let anyone in there, as long as they've got a valid email account).
Britain Sings Christmas, Star Traders: The Christmas Challenge, An Audience With Celine Dion, Parkinson, Catwoman, Emmerdale, Coronation Street, Heartbeat, Vanity Fair, Christmas at the Riviera, Little Town of Bethlehem, Lights! Camera! The Queen, The Polar Express, Harry Hill's Christmas TV Burp, That's What I Call Television, The Old Curiosity Shop, The South Bank Show, The Bill
Clearly, several of these can be discounted at first sight - it might look like an obvious target, but we genuinely suspect that if we were forced to watch An Audience With Celine Dion, we would start cutting ourselves. But one gem stands out from the crowd.
As anyone who'd heard him being interviewed on Radio One yesterday will already know (just before becoming slightly dismayed at learning he likes TittyBangBang), Harry Hill's TV Burp makes the prime "not a soap and not a film" slot on ITV1 on the 25th. At 8pm. Lawks.
It might well seem this is ITV1's dead rubber slot, marking the half-hour gap between Emmerdale and Corrie while BBC One show the ratings juggernaut EastEnders, but hey. Harry Hill, on primetime Christmas Day telly! There's hope for the light channel yet!
But how does the ITV Christmas Day schedule of 2007 compare with that of the past? There's only one way to find out...
A COMPREHENSIVE ANALYSIS OF TWO SAMPLE DECEMBER 25TH SCHEDULES FROM THE PAST IN ORDER TO HIGHLIGHT ANY DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THEN AND NOW, LIKE WE DID WITH BBC ONE EARLIER!
Yeah, not as snappy as 'fight!', but hey.
The Big Hitters:
The post unwrapping a Tiswas annual slot gets going properly with A Christmas Runaround, which we really hope began with Mike Read disguised as Santa, only to take off the costume and shout "it was me all along! RUNARRAAAAAAARND!" From there, after Digby The Biggest Dog In The World, it's onto perennial easy target Christmas Crossroads, and Billy Smart's Circus. The main event comes at 8.30pm, with one of the last proper Morecambe and Wise Shows. Of course, post-move, it was a bit less of an attraction by then (like the FA Cup is going to be next season), but welcome nonetheless.
The Big Film:
Six o'clock saw 1974's The Man With The Golden Gun being trotted out (up against Paul Daniels, The Gen Game and Dallas on the other side), presumably because the schedulers at Thames didn't think it'd be worth spending any more up against that lot. The proper big movie arrived at 3.10pm, with the world première of the excellent George And Mildred movie. Great stuff. If ITV1 had decided to put this out again this year, we'd certainly watch it. It's certainly more entertaining than Lights! Camera! The Queen and All Star Family Fortunes.
Phoning It In:
The apres-monarch timeslot is taken with 'Pantomime', about which we know nothing, but that's not going to stop up claiming that Cannon, Ball, Little or Large were in there somewhere. This Is Your Life is trotted out at 9.30pm, which of course never included a commercial break halfway through, just like Jam. We say this because we don't know who was in that, either.
Overall: 7/10. The BBC One schedule for the same day could only muster 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, Dallas, Mike Yarwood and Airport '75. We don't like any of those, so ITV wins.
The Big Hitters:
The post TV-am day kicks off with a double bill of Dangermouse, which is a promising start. There's something for the mums to hum along to on the kitchen portable at 2pm, with a "Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean Special" taking the nation into the Queen. Sadly, things are slightly disrailed at 5.30pm, with cheap panel game Give Us A Clue making an appearance (up against a Blankety Blank special on the other side). Surely the family would have had more fun actually playing charades themselves. Back on track at 6pm, with a mammoth 150-minute tribute to the late Eric Morecambe, that we're betting didn't have annoying talking heads popping up every sixty seconds during the sketches, unlike the M&W tribute show UKTV Gold are trotting out every day this week. The evening is rounded off with Des O'Connor Tonight.
The Big Film:
Two main offerings here. First up, in the post-Queen slot, is the disappointing choice of... 1974's The Man With The Golden Gun! Again! It was only up against Mary Poppins (which we think we were forced to bloody watch instead), so it's a shame it wasn't swapped with the evening's big offering (as featured in Central's 1984 Christmas Tape), the première of Raiders of The Lost Ark. Our disturbingly verbose memory tells us that we made it into the living room just in time for the "sword versus gun" bit, so we didn't get to see the start of the film until later on. That Whizzer and Chips annual must have been really engrossing, is all we can say.
Phoning It In:
All ITV could muster to rival the Beeb's ToTP extravaganza was "Top Pop Videos Of '84". That, coupled with flinging out Give Us A Clue (Blankety Blank wasn't that big a draw by 1984 was it?), go towards a disappointing effort from the ITV team. If only they hadn't given up on The Goodies.
Rating: 6/10, mainly on the back of Indy, Eric and Dangermouse.