Sunday, December 24, 2023

Christmas TV: '83, '88, '93 And '98

For the past two Christmases, I have published posts in which I've looked over Christmas TV from the past. 

In 2021, I wrote about TV from the festive periods of 1981, '86, '91 and 1996 and then followed that up last year with a browse through the TV schedules from 1982, '87, '92 and 1997. In today's post, I'll continue the pattern with a look at what was on the telly during 1983, 1988, 1993 and 1998.

I may have still been a little too young to watch much television back in 1983, but let's not allow that to get in the way of this idea I have.

For starters, the first film which stood out to me - when I looked up the TV schedules for Christmas '83 - aired at 1:05PM and is called Glitterball.

Glitterball was made by the Children's Film Foundation. I watched it many years later when CFF movies aired on Children's BBC. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the film about a silver alien ball (if I recall correctly!) and even bought the book of the movie when I saw it in a jumble sale at primary school. 

Speaking of books I read as a child - Treasure Island was the BBC's main movie of the day airing at 3:$0PM following both The Queen's Speech and Blankety Blank (the UK's version of Match Game for the Americans out there).

Over on ITV, they had a big one at 3:15PM with Superman. Following the Man of Steel was a Christmas Special of Bullseye.

ITV's movie for the late evening was Revenge of the Pink Panther. Yep, that feels about right. There seemed to be a Pink Panther film on every Christmas back then.

Okay, now we're in a year I would have absolutely been watching TV in.

And I'll tell you something. I know exactly what I watched on that day. 

Following the Queen's Speech was the UK premiere of Back to the Future. I absolutely recall watching this on Christmas Day in 1988 and even remember cutting out the little pictures of it from inside the Christmas Radio Times to stick in a scrapbook I had of movie posters and other bits and pieces.

Back to the Future remains one of my favourite movies to this very day. But.. so is what was on ITV at near enough the same time.

My favourite Star Wars movie of all time - The Empire Strikes Back - was competing with the BBC from 3:55PM that day.

I already had the videotape on pirate from the early 1980s, so there was little point in me recording it.

I highly doubt this was the network premiere of The Empire Strikes Back due to it being eight years old at the time.

The BBC's movie of the night was another TV premiere in 1985's Silverado. I have never seen that movie, but remember seeing its trailers on a lot of films I rented back in its day.

ITV' had a triple bill late on Christmas night with The Squeeze, Our Man Flint and In Like Flynn.

Five years after Back to the Future was the BBC's big Christmas Day movie, the channel had Back to the Future III.

It aired at 4:05PM following The Queen's Speech and Noel's Christmas Presents.

Over on ITV, the movie immediately following the Queen was The Neverending Story. 

Later on in the evening, the BBC aired Ghost at 9:10PM. I guess that may have been its network premiere. Over on ITV, it had National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation at 6:00PM, Field of Dreams at 8:00PM and those were followed by DOA and Airport III as the night turned into Boxing Day.

An episode of Twilight Zone aired at 2:40AM on Boxing Day. It is the Night of the Meek episode. I point it out because that particular instalment had a Christmas theme and first aired in the US on the night of December 23rd 1960.

With that said, The Night of the Meek was also remade for The New Twilight Zone in 1985. And - seeing as ITV did have episodes of The New Twilight Zone in the late 80s onwards - it could have been that one which was shown back in '93.

The New Twilight Zone

I was quite surprised to see that BBC 1 didn't have a film on the afternoon of Christmas Day. Following the Queen was Noel Edmunds with another episode of his Christmas Presents specials. 

ITV also didn't have a film on during the afternoon. Its biggie for 1998 was an airing of a Spice Girls concert as the opening act before Her Majesty.

Channel 4 had Tom Thumb and Channel 5 had the Alastair Sim version of Scrooge as its respective movies.

In the evening, the two major channels had Carry On Girls (BBC 1) and The Godfather Part 2 (ITV). While - over on Channel 4 - they closed out the night with The Omen, The Fly and The Return of The Fly.

Was '98 a year when all of the terrestrial channels threw their hands up and let Sky show them who's boss? It sure feels like it based on THAT content.

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