Monday, 6 December 2010

Sixth Day of Advent

- December 6th -

For me the Christmas of 1991 was one tinged with sadness. Not because of some family tragedy or being stuck away from home all alone unable to get back to the warm bosom of my loved ones, but because this was the first Christmas that we didn’t have to buy both the Radio Times and the TV Times together.

Thanks to the deregulation of television listings the Radio Times was now allowed to carry listing for ITV and Channel 4, and TV Times was allowed to include BBC 1 and 2’s television scheduling.

It was so disappointing. Like tearing off a little strip of my own personal traditional Christmas celebrations, depriving me of something I’d loved and cherished since I was knee-high to a grasshopper.

Yes, it’s silly - I’m well aware of that, thank you - but it was something I truly enjoyed…spreading open two bumper Christmas issues of TV listing magazines and going through them both with a luminous marker-pen, circling all the wonderful Christmas telly I intended to watch.

I know I still can, and do (my magazine of choice is the Radio Times, much classier than the TV Times, whose garish pages are set out like a cheap 30p listings mag) but even after 19 years it still seems wrong to have only one TV listings magazine in the house at Christmas. Even now it feels like there’s still a huge TV Times-shaped hole on the coffee table for the entirety of that festive fortnight.

Although Radio Times continues to have the more traditional, elegant Christmas covers (except for some reason this years has Wallace & Gromit on again, despite there being no new episode on and they were on the cover just two Christmases ago) I still remember some of the TV Times covers of old with great fondness; the Minder cover from 1988 with Arthur and Terry in Father Christmas outfit, Bet Lynch and Hilda Ogden in a tinsel adorned Rovers Return from 1987, even that odd one that had Superman, Russ Abbott, the Muppets and David Frost all peering out of the door of a cottage onto a snow scene.

Even though I still look forward to the time every year when the bumper two-week Christmas issue of the Radio Times is released, and I can sit down on the settee by the Christmas tree, slowly making may way through the magazine towards the 25th of December, marking off all the festive programmes I’m intending to watch or record, I always spare a thought for when it used to be the three of us, and all the fun we used to have together.

But it’s only the two of us now, and despite all the fun and excitement the Radio Times gives me every Christmas, I’ll always miss the TV Times.

And, you know what…I think I always will.

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