Monday 20 January 2020

Christmas: Almost all television films are festive repeats

ET: the Extra-Terrestrial will make a festive appearance
ET: the Extra-Terrestrial will make a festive appearance

Anita Singh

MOST of the films to be shown on television this Christmas are repeats, according to a new study.

Only 13 of the 656 films shown on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and St Stephen’s Day will be premieres. The rest - 98 per cent of all movies shown during the festive period - will leave viewers with a strong sense of déjà vu.

Terrestrial, satellite and Freeview channels will be showing 23 per cent more films than last year, yet the number of premieres has dropped by 19 per cent, said the study by Lovefilm, the DVD service.

Instead, viewers will be fed a diet of repeats including The Wizard of Oz, Lawrence of Arabia and The Towering Inferno. El Cid, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and ET: the Extra-Terrestrial also make a festive appearance.

The majority of premieres will be broadcast by the BBC including two popular children’s films, Monsters vs Aliens and Ratatouille, on BBC One on Christmas Day. But its midday offering on December 25, Kung Fu Panda, was broadcast on the same channel only six months ago.

ITV1 has no new films on Christmas Day, preferring repeats of Miracle on 34th Street, Aladdin and Happy Feet.

On the pay-to-view channels, there will be just two premieres: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 and The King’s Speech, both on Sky Premiere.

Not all of the 13 premieres are box office smashes - they include G-Force (BBC One), The Ugly Duckling and Me (Channel 4) and The Santa Suit (Channel 5).

Helen Cowley, editor of Lovefilm, said: “It comes as no surprise that the Christmas TV viewing schedule is stuffed to the brim with repeats, but research suggests that viewers now have less choice than ever before, despite having more channels to choose from.”

The BBC defended the schedule and said it was showing no repeats during prime time on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day or St Stephen’s Day.

A spokesman said: “The BBC’s focus is on homegrown programming. This year we have brand new shows in drama, animation, entertainment and religion.”

BBC One will show special episodes of Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, EastEnders and Absolutely Fabulous on Christmas Day, plus a new animation based on children’s favourite The Gruffalo’s Child.

ITV is hoping that its Downton Abbey festive special will prove to be a ratings winner, ending the BBC’s dominance of Christmas Day viewing.

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