Back To Christmas 1985 (30th December 1985)

BBC1 offers classic afternoon film fun today with Disney’s 1950 version of Treasure Island. It’s impossible to watch Robert Newton’s exuberant eye-rolling performance without thinking of Tony Hancock just a little, but that just adds to my enjoyment. Bobby Driscoll seems a little out of place as an American Jim Hawkins, especially since the supporting cast is filled with familiar British actors like Geoffrey Keen, John Laurie, John Gregson and Sam Kydd.

There’s another chance to see last year’s Yes Minister Christmas special, Party Games. At sixty minutes it doesn’t outstay its welcome and, as ever, comes complete with the sort of wordplay that earned Nigel Hawthorne a shelf full of BAFTAs. Here, Sir Humphrey attempts to tell Jim that he’s leaving the DAA. “The relationship which I might tentatively venture to aver has been not without some degree of reciprocal utility and perhaps even occasional gratification, is emerging a point of irreversible bifurcation and, to be brief, is in the propinquity of its ultimate regrettable termination.”

On BBC2 there’s The Compleat Beatles at 7.00 pm. Prior to the Beatles Anthology it was an invaluable resource, and indeed even now it’s still a pleasure to revisit. Although the absence of any new interview material with the surviving Fabs is a shame, there’s still a good selection of talking heads  – mainly recruited from their earlier days (like Bill Harry and Allan Williams) although George Martin is also on hand to share some insights. At only two hours the story is obviously compressed, but it does come complete with a generous sprinkling of music clips throughout (why Apple Corps didn’t come down hard on this at the time is anyone’s guess).

Over on ITV there’s a new sitcom – All in Good Faith with Richard Briers. It’s never going to give the likes of The Good Life or Ever Decreasing Circles a run for their money, but Briers is always watchable so it goes on the list.

Channel 4 spends its evening celebrating Granada in the Sixties. Curiously there’s no Coronation Street, but on the plus side it includes less obvious picks like The Caesars. From this line-up I’ll be watching The Music of Lennon and McCartney which is just a click away on YouTube and serves as a good companion to The Compleat Beatles.

5 thoughts on “Back To Christmas 1985 (30th December 1985)

  1. My father’s diary for this day records, “TV evening – Yes Minister & a good Silas Marner (Ben Kingsley).” I saw Yes Minister with them (and had seen the first broadcast in 1984). I remember noticing that it got remarkably high ratings (published in The Listener) – but then look at the ITV opposition! That version of Silas Marner is really good, with the feature-length form serving the novel well in this instance.

    If I was was planning what to watch on this day now, then I’d need to get a four-hour tape for the whole of the Granada evening on Channel 4 (the C4 archive evening being an annual Christmas holiday treat back in the eighties). I would then watch Coronation Street, Brookside and Silas Marner.


  2. In a recent article in the Guardian they said that the period after Boxing Day and before New Year’s Eve is called the Betwixtmas. For single adults it’s often the best part of the festive season because it’s when they can do what they like. And I can remeber when the best programmes at Christmas were usually on during that period.

    I think the cover stars of the first Radio Times of the new year were Paul Eddington, Nigel Hawthorne and Derek Fowlds in Yes Prime Minister.

    I did see Blue Peter Review of the Year which was always worth watching. This was when Peter Duncan returned for another year after Michael Sundin was dropped. I think Michael Sundin’s only appearance in the review was when they showed him visiting Elton John’s manion, which is regarded as the highpoint of his Blue Peter career.

    Children’s tv seems to be going back to normal. Why Don’t You? returned for a short series.

    I did see the Beatles documentary. One of the contributors was Tony Sheridan who was the singer on some of the first Beatles recordings. But George Martin’s contributions were the most useful. Did anyone else see Ron Howard’s documentary Eight Days a Week, or Peter Jackson’s Get Back?

    Apparently the highpoint of The Music of Lennon an McCartney is Peter Sellers reciting the lyrics of A Hard Day’s Night in the style of Laurence Olivier playing Richard III. But this was part of Channel 4’s evening of archive shows, and I think it was the first of their annual archive evenings. Three years later they did a selection of BBC shows which was very bizarre, but then one Christmas during the nineties BBC2 did a Granada TV evening. One of the programmes shown that night was a one-off edition of University Challenge which lead to the BBC reviving the quiz show.


  3. Hi has your Youtube Channel gone please?.Can’t find it the last few days so hope maybe you changed the name of it just or something.


    • YouTube have suspended it (one copyright strike too many alas). They may relent and restore it, we’ll have to see. Can’t complain if it’s gone for good as I had a good run for a number of years, but any channel posting old tv (even if it’s not commercially available) is always liable to get taken down.


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