Christmas TV shows and their Christmas present equivalents

Rob Young

23rd December 2013

A while back I said to Ed we should do something about Christmas telly, like a rundown of what's on over the festive period. And he said, in a J. Jonah Jameson kind of way: "We need a gag, you fool; a reason for it to exist!" I imagine he was smoking a cigar at that point. So here is that reason. I've scoured the pages of the Sunday Times' two-week Christmas Culture magazine to find the best/funniest/stupidest things on television. And I'm going to compare them with Christmas presents. Stay with me: this is definitely a thing.

Eastenders, BBC1, Christmas Eve 7.30pm, Christmas Day 8.30pm, Boxing Day 7.15pm

Nothing ever seems to go right for the residents of Albert Square at Christmas. If someone doesn't drop dead the pub usually catches fire, or someone's run over. Or perhaps someone's handed divorce papers. OK, I don't watch Eastenders that often. I do know Danny Dyer appears, though, so that's ... something.

Present equivalent: A pair of socks. A predicable gift you can expect every Christmas. Sometimes they can be a bit boring, other times they can be tremendously exciting. Nevertheless, a pair of socks, much like Eastenders, is always dependable.

Coronation Street, ITV1, Christmas Day 7.30pm

Considering I don't watch much Eastenders you can guess I don't watch much Coronation Street either. It's basically Eastenders for northerners, right? The description the Culture magazine gives the Christmas Day episode is: 'Nick flies into a rage and slaps Leanne'. Erm ...

Present equivalent: The cheap shower and deodorant set for men. You won't get too excited about it but you can't deny its usefulness when there's nothing else left. And like Leanne's encounter with Nick, it'll probably end in tears if you get it in the eye.

Doctor Who, BBC1, Christmas Day 7.30pm

This is what every Doctor Who fan has been talking about ... since the last episode, which was on less than a month ago. But it's the most anticipated show on television this Christmas as we'll finally see Matt Smith regenerate into Peter Capaldi. I'm not a Who fan but even I know that's exciting.

Present equivalent: This Doctor Who episode is basically an Xbox One or PS4. Both are hugely anticipated, both have undergone a makeover and they're both making nerds the world over giddy with excitement. Yeah, that's right: I'm basically comparing Matt Smith to an Xbox 360. His most scathing critique ever, I imagine.

Downton Abbey, ITV1, Christmas Day 8.30pm

A Christmas special that doesn't even feature Christmas? Bold move, Downton, bold move. Taking place in the summer (!?) of 1923, much has happened since we were last at the Abbey. Paul Giamatti makes his debut and they'll all head off to Buckingham Palace. Referring once again to my trusty Culture mag, the word 'scandal' is used.

Present equivalent: Downton Abbey is the luxury Christmas hamper of festive television, one of those proper expensive ones, with the fake hay and everything. They're both classy and make you feel a bit posh. Harrods have done one that costs £20,000, while Aldi have an almost identical one for £500. Both feature caviar, cheeses and champagne. Wait, what's this feature about again?

Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas Special, BBC1, Christmas Day 9.30pm

The proverbial skidmark of the Christmas TV listings; the festive log that just won't flush. It staggers me Mrs Brown's Boys still gets made, let alone barges its way onto BBC1 primetime. The Culture magazine says the episode features Mrs Brown 'awaiting delivery of her special tree'. Better set the Sky+ box for that one.

Present equivalent: Very much the panic-buy book of festive television, something you'll have a look at once you've eaten everything in the house and there's nothing left to watch. Think of Mrs. Brown's Boys as those 'Crap Town' or ‘Funny Place Names' books. You might have a little giggle to yourself but you're not at all proud of it.

Eddie Stobart's 12 Days of Christmas, Channel 5, Christmas Day 8.30pm

Why watch Doctor Who or Downton Abbey on Christmas Day when you can instead flick over to Channel 5 to watch long-distance lorry drivers deliver goods over the festive period? Expect at least one driver to compare himself to Santa. Allow me once again to refer to my Culture magazine: 'Workers battling the elements and the traffic in the rush to ensure crucial deliveries are made on time'. With gripping stories like this, Downton can suck it.

Present equivalent: A die-cast model of a shitty Eddie Stobart lorry your cheapskate uncle got for you with his Shell garage loyalty points because he once again forgot to go Christmas shopping and spent his money on booze.
Still Open All Hours, BBC1, Boxing Day 7.45pm

Bringing back Open All Hours after its last airing 28 years ago is bound to excite a lot of people. David Jason's Granville is now running the shop and much of the original cast make a return, except of course the legendary Ronnie Barker.

Present equivalent: A fancy tin of vintage toffee. The posh ones you'd find in Marks and Spencer. Your parents, nan and granddad will enjoy them while they reminisce about better times, when things were simple and problems could be sorted with a simple toffee.
Great American Rock Anthems: Turn It Up To 11, BBC4, Boxing Day 9pm

Nothing quite says Christmas like Huey Morgan from the Fun Lovin' Criminals telling the story of rock 'n' roll from the 1970s to the 1990s, featuring the likes of Alice Cooper and Blue Oyster Cult. Watch, as waves of leather and denim come flying your way, accompanied by a killer guitar solo. Probably.

Present equivalent: The 'Learning Guitar for Beginners' book to accompany that electric guitar from Argos you were given last year and haven't picked up since.
Sherlock, BBC1, New Year's Day, 9pm

It's been two years since we saw Sherlock Holmes hurl himself from that rooftop, fake his own death, outwit Moriarty and upset Watson. And now we'll finally discover how he managed it. And honestly, it couldn't come any sooner.

Present equivalent: One of those really difficult 3D puzzles. It'll take some time getting into, it'll make you think, you'll obsess over it, you'll scratch your chin. But once it's finished you'll feel extremely clever indeed.

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