During our recent Christmas Special podcast we voiced our concerns about both BBC One and ITV fielding the same festive line-up as they had done over the past couple of years.
With the exception of Miranda; every prime time offering on the two main channels had aired last year and it appeared, when the overnight ratings were announced, that familiarity had definitely bred contempt. Despite clinching the top spot in the Christmas ratings chart for the second year in a row, the 7.4 million figure achieved by bawdy sitcom Mrs Brown’s Boys were down almost two million down on last year’s 9.4.
Indeed, with the exception of The Queen’s Speech, every returning programme on Christmas Day garnered lower ratings than they did last year. This contributed to the lowest combined BBC One and ITV ratings nine years, by why have the viewing figures dropped so drastically?
Judging by conversations I’ve had with other people as well as feedback on Twitter and our Facebook group the general consensus was ‘that there was nothing on’. A few people I spoke to watched the odd programme, for example Doctor Who or Call the Midwife, but nobody stuck with the main channels constantly throughout Christmas night.
Instead it seemed that most were more than content with watching a DVD they’d been given for Christmas, watching an old movie they’d seen before or actually talking to their family members. This feedback, coupled with the ratings, suggests that viewers are to an extent rebelling against the familiar line-ups that are constantly offered to them over the festive season.
The solution is simple; change the line-up and stop sticking to the same line-up of shows every year. Whilst the festive soaps are synonymous with this time of year, everything else could easily be replaced especially the period drama drudgery of Call the Midwife and Downton Abbey. Additionally I would’ve got rid of this year’s Strictly Come Dancing special which provided nothing noteworthy other than the temporary return of Sir Bruce Forsyth.
In their place I would’ve put some of the other festive specials that aired around Christmas such as The Boy in the Dress and Esio Trot. ITV could’ve also presented an original one-off drama that would’ve been preferable to another year at Downton. The main issue I had with the Christmas Day TV in general was that there was very little cheer provided by the bleak Call the Midwife, the strange Doctor Who or the various explosive moments provided by the soaps.
It’ll be interesting to see what’s on offer on Christmas Day in 2015 and whether the BBC or ITV change their initial plans on what they’ll be airing. After seeing this year’s low figures I’d urge them to sprinkle a little originality into the line-up but I have a feeling they’ll just throw the same old shows at us come December 25th 2015.
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