THE BLOG

The Beginning of the End of Festive TV

30/12/2013 11:33 GMT | Updated 26/02/2014 10:59 GMT

Did anyone happen to see what Channel 5 decided to showcase on Christmas Day to win the TV ratings war?

I'm sure millions tuned in but in case you didn't know, at 8.40pm Channel 5 decided to go into the prime time battle by screening Eddie Stobart - 12 Days of Christmas. For anyone that doesn't know what this is, it's genuinely as bad as it sounds. After people up and down the country battled high winds, adverse weather, gridlocks and crowds to fight their way to spend Christmas with their families this year, Channel 5 decided to try and replicate this nightmare in tele-visual form with an entire hour of lorry drivers fighting adverse weather, gridlocks and crowds to deliver stuff. This show is so far from festivity that Channel 5 could have made an equally Christmassy programme had they just taped a camera to the front of a local council gritter and filmed an hour of it driving down the A3 at 2am in the morning. As if this wasn't enough, this trucking TV spectacular wasn't even a premiere, it was actually first shown the previous night at 7pm on Christmas Eve. For those that managed to sit through an hour of truck driving hell, Channel 5 decided that the best way to carry on the feel good factor was to follow Eddie Stobart with Michael Jackson's This Is It which is an undoubted festive feast that chronicles the last set of rehearsals from a highly medicated King of Pop in the weeks before he died. Considering how the high street has been struggling lately I am beginning to wonder whether Channel 5 weren't colluding with all the major retailers on the understanding that they'd get a cut from the Boxing Day bonanza if their TV line-up managed to convince enough people it was a good idea to leave their homes on Christmas Day evening to spend the night in a tent outside DFS or Selfridges in freezing temperatures to wait for a bargain.

And if you thought that the Channel 5's Christmas Day scheduling was perhaps just a one off misjudgement or temporary aberration, you'd be wrong. Still to come, on the other big festive night of the holiday season - New Year's Eve, they'll be showing a countdown of the top 50 funniest comedians, for almost three hours. I am willing to bet that this show, which is meant to contain the funniest people in the world will actually deliver three hours of people telling us who they think are the funniest people in the world. Not much fun there then. So much so that you will want to dial up the Christmas Episode of Eastenders and its lighthearted attempted murder plot-line, just to cheer yourself up.

But maybe I am missing something here. Maybe the TV executives of Channel 5 know something that we don't. Maybe they are in fact TV pioneers rather than Eddie Stobart obsessives who believe an hour of lorry driving is the panacea of entertainment. While the numbers watching TV have generally held firm over the last few years, technology will increasingly mean that TV schedules are irrelevant. I remember when everyone used to plan their Christmas Days around what TV they wanted to watch. Turkeys would be timed to ensure that it didn't interfere with Only Fools and Horses. But with iPads, iPlayers, on demand and live record, families can concentrate on teaching Gran how to use her new Kindle in the knowledge that they can watch a certain Great Gran's Christmas message, Downton or Homeland whenever they want. Maybe that's why Channel 5 sent all their staff home over Christmas and told the security staff to play whatever tape they could find on the shelves. Because in the not too distant future, planning our lives around TV schedules will be a mere historical quirk that we'll fondly relate to our grandchildren as they gasp and respond in disbelief "what do you mean 8pm was the only time you could watch it?"