Looking back at Christmas TV

  • Frank Campbell

As the Yuletide festivities built up in December, I anticipated a diet of popular TV programs and 'special' editions of regular favourites like University Challenge, alongside film classics such as Brief Encounter. Happily we seem to have escaped from The Guns of Navarone this year. There still was a wealth of sugary romantic comedy and thin domestic episodes, in addition to a new hallo e'en spookiness which has invaded the schedules.

The items most enjoyed in the last fortnight may seem an odd collection for the viewing of an octogenarian who lives alone. The three programs were Paddington 2, Worzel Gummidge, and, on radio, the fifteen minute short stories by Alexander McCall Smith.

We live in an age when computer technology has distorted our awareness of a distinction between the real and the virtual. When I switch on, I wait to decide whether what I am seeing is for real or part of some consumer promotion. To some people this does not seem to matter.

Those who compile the scheduled at Christmas seem to put a high value on ingredients such as warfare real and virtual, criminal violence, Gothic horror, spookiness and fake jollifications and over indulgence. Hence we revisit Christine Keeler and Michael Hutchence and Dracula.

I was sceptical at the transfer of Paddington bear from text to film but this proved to be a triumph in Paddington 2. I was especially impressed by the story of his stretch in jail and his heroic endurance of injustice and his steely determination in the face of adversity He shows himself as an exemplary character who can bring about concord and goodwill in all he encounters, and who looks for the good and the reasonable in everyone. A rare facilitator.

The famous scarecrow likewise faces some interesting challenges and temptations. Here again his dedication to a cause triumphs over scepticism and bullying. Even his fellow scarecrows who have behaved in an anti social biker fashion end up as reformed individuals. His steadfastness in the face of crisis sustains his working for change. and challenges the 'this is how it has always been done' philosophy. He was able to encourage an acceptance of change without resort to violence or compulsion. Similar themes were explored in the fifteen minute stories from McCall Smith on sound radio.

I must thank the compilers of these programmes for finding a small space to make comment on the triumph of the 'good' and the 'true'. One might ask whether it matters that these characters are non human. Is moral fibre and righteousness beyond the scope of real human beings who can mock at the steadfastness and non violence of, say Jeremy Corbyn as making him unfit for office.?

Frank Campbell

28th December 2019

Tags: Frank Campbell, Paddington Bear, Christmas TV

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