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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

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A welcome case of telly deja vu

The Christmas TV schedules are out and, as usual, it’s the same old movies with a sprinkling of ‘special’ shows from popular series such as Dr Who, Ab Fab, Downton Abbey and Outnumbered.

As usual, there are the evergreen moans of too many repeats, too many films we’ve all seen before and too many ‘specials’.

True, the main terrestrial channels and the satellite broadcasters will air a range of what might be politely called tried and tested family films from December 24 to 26.

In fact, 98 per cent of the movies shown across the peak Christmas season will be repeats.

ITV1 and BBC2 will broadcast only one film premiere apiece across the entire three-day peak period – and neither can exactly be described as a Hollywood blockbuster.

In ITV1’s case the film is a 10-year-old Tom and Jerry adventure called The Magic Ring, which is being shown on Christmas Eve at 8.15am.

BBC2’s offering is a wildlife documentary about flamingos called The Crimson Wing, which will air on Boxing Day at 11.30am.

Old favourites being dusted down from the film archive this year include Spartacus, Gladiator, ET: The Extra Terrestrial, The Towering Inferno, The Polar Express, The Muppet Christmas Carol, The Railway Children, The Man Who Would Be King and children’s gangster comedy Bugsy Malone.

So what? The whole way we celebrate Christmas depends on traditions, most of which were invented by the Victorians.

Putting the religious aspect to one side, we eat the same food, put out the same decorations, go through the same agonies of buying presents, sending cards, visiting relatives year after year after year.

So I don’t mind all these old films. Seeing them is a bit like meeting up with an old friend and sharing the same old jokes and anecdotes.

We have a family tradition of sitting down to watch black-and-white classics Bringing Up Baby and Holiday Inn.

It isn’t Christmas until and unless we’ve watched them.

But with so many repeat – or ‘tried and tested’ – films on show, do you think I could use an old TV licence to watch them?

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