Saturday 16 December 2023

All the Slices of Archive TV Christmas Footage I've Found

Christmas television has always been a landmark event. Or, at least, it always was. These days, scanning through the Christmas issue of the Radio Times with a highlighter is more a novelty than a necessity. Times change, and so do our viewing habits. But, luckily, old video tapes full of home recordings offer up a fossilised view of the way it once was. And, as I've been scanning through old video tapes for seven years now, I've found more than my fair share of Christmas TV footage.

Now, I could show you the various repeats of the 1977 Christmas edition of The Morecambe and Wise Show alongside Blackadder's Christmas Carol and The Snowman, but they're currently all being shown 24/7 on some digital channel somewhere. So, instead, I've decided to gather together all the ephemeral slices of archive TV Christmas I've found over the years. Some are fascinating, all of them are intriguing, and it's unlikely you would have seen any of them since they were originally broadcast.

16/12/1986 - ITV - The Giddy Game Show (Christmas)

Heading back just 37 years and it's time to take on the genteel games of the The Giddy Game Show from Yorkshire Television, but with a Christmas twist. And, as well as featuring the usual trio of Gus, Giddy and Gorilla, we're also treated to some in-vision continuity for Children's ITV courtesy of Matthew Kelly.

25/12/1984 BBC1 Junction and Continuity

Several tidbits of vintage fun from Christmas 1984 here, kicking off with the closing moments of The Paul Daniels Magic Christmas Show before we're served up a rundown of the Boxing Day schedule on BBC1. Perhaps the best moment within the footage, though, is the charming, rotating snowmen ident which introduces the Just Good Friends Christmas special.

25/12/1987 Children's ITV and Thames Continuity

This is easily one of my all-time favourite tape finds. Hailing from Christmas Day 1987, it starts with the very end of the Wide Awake Club, with Timmy Mallet explaining the virtues of Christmas time to a budgie, before, quite magically, Philip Elsmore appears dressed as Father Christmas to present some in-vision continuity for Thames. Finally, it's over to the Children's ITV studio for some more in-vision continuity with Gary Terzza and Debbie Shore. Although I can't specifically remember watching any of this, it's highly likely I was tuned into ITV whilst this went out. And that makes me immeasurably happy.

26/12/1986 BBC2 Afternoon Schedule

The day after I received a pair of Thomas the Tank Engine slippers from Father Christmas, the Boxing Day afternoon schedule on BBC2 looked like this. Not much of interest here, in all honesty, but The Most Swirling, Swinging, Sliding, Spinning, Up and Down Ride of Your Life is, no doubt, a nice time capsule of the excitement on offer at the time (and it can be found here). Perhaps the best feature of this continuity is the snow melting off the BBC2 logo, even if it is crudely animated.

25/12/1991 Just What I Always Wanted! BBC1 John Wells

I've always considered this one of the stranger finds I've dug up on video, but also one that barely anyone is interested in (as of this time of writing, it's only garnered 972 views in six years). John Wells was a satirist who spent three decades, from the 1960s, involved with television. And in 1991 he was rewarded with a five minute slot on Christmas Day. It's a rather eccentric and rambling look at the joys of Christmas, but it's hard to ignore its curious and quintessentially British charm.

25 & 26/12/1976 - BBC1 - Top of the Pops Continuity

The oldest footage I've ever found, from 47 crazy years ago (yes, nearly half a century), is also some of the shortest. However, this Christmas footage is vaguely historical as it contains the only known direct capture of the 1976 Christmas BBC ident. Another piece of footage exists, but this was captured by pointing a camera at the TV. Admittedly, my capture of it is far from perfect, all interference at the start and short lived, but at least you can grab a screenshot of it. You can read more about it here.

I thought I'd found more Christmas bits and pieces over the years, but it appears these are the only substantial ones. Anyway, I hope all these clips provide you with an alternative helping of Christmas nostalgia.

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