Perhaps broadcasters have decided we’re all too hung over and tired to notice how hung over and tired their New Year’s Day schedules have been down the decades.
The pressure group Defund the BBC suggested at the start of this festive season that viewers should boycott the BBC between Christmas and New Year to send a message to corporation bosses that they shouldn’t take their viewers for granted.
The BBC is already in hot water over its Christmas Day TV schedule, revealed as identical to the one in 2020, and even in the same order- Strictly, Mrs Brown’s Boys and Call the Midwife.
Over the festive season nearly a third of all of the programmes on BBC1 are repeats, while on BBC2 it’s three-quarters.
Was it ever thus, or was there a time when, tired and hung over though we might have been, gathering round the TV with family on New Year’s Day was a highlight?
Family was front and centre on New Year’s Day on BBC One, although how did they get away Disney Parade: No Smoking (‘Goofy is determined to be hale, if not exactly hearty, by not inhaling. A Walt Disney cartoon’)?
There was a brand new Doctor Who: The Day of the Daleks Part 1, enough to gather the nation round the set in eager anticipation.
After all, a good dose of terror from overturned buckets with rubber plunger arms and nasal voices was in store – the Daleks were returning for the first time since 1967.
It was the ninth Doctor Who series, and ran weekly through January with Jon Pertwee as the Doctor.
To calm the nation down after that came It’s Cliff Richard, followed by the 1965 movie, The Cincinnati Kid.
Dick Emery took over at 9.25pm for something a little more risqué. The show was half way through its run of extraordinary popularity, from 1963 to 1981.
Its particular brand of sexism, homophobia and racism hadn’t yet fallen out of favour with the public.
Not a lot to drag yourself out of your hangover for on BBC One.
Like this year, New Year’s Day fell on a Saturday so Grandstand was on for the afternoon.
After that a nod to the children with Rod and Emu’s Saturday special, followed by the Saturday film, The Magnificent Seven (1960).
The evening’s highlight was Val Sings and Rings in the New, with Val Doonican.
After that, the latest episode of Dynasty.
For the late evening, a film about the making of the film, Ghandi; Scotch and Wry and an international golf challenge.
On BBC Two, It’s Wonderful Life (1946) in the afternoon.
World darts and classical concerts followed.
A decade later, the BBC One schedule was much busier, but was it much better?
The major highlight was the TV premiere of Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker, although this had been released in 1988.
The other films were Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971), Death on the Nile (1978) and Tootsie (1982).
The Two Ronnies were on in the afternoon, and Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em screened after Moonwalker.
On BBC Two sport dominated with racing and Ski Sunday, interrupted only by the Royal Institution Christmas Lecture by Charles Stirling, ‘Our World Through The Looking Glass’.
The very thing for snoozing a hangover away.
The schedules were starting much earlier, at 6am with CBeebies on BBC One, switching to CBBC an hour later.
The Jungle Book (1994) and ET (1982) were screened in the morning and early afternoon.
In prime afternoon slot, the final of The World’s Strongest Man, and the early evening slot was occupied by a Walking With Dinosaurs special.
Remember the National Lottery Midweek Draws? The show went on as usual.
Dynasty had given way to EastEnders and Billy Elliot (2000) was the prime evening viewing.
On BBC Two, the fare was scarcely more inspiring.
The World at War: Japan; Laurel and Hardy; Columbo and a documentary about the Wild Bush Budgie.
The New Year’s Concert from Vienna.
A Ready Steady Cook special, and a Weakest Link Special.
A show called Ultimate Wild Night took up three hours from 6pm. Anyone remember it?
Platoon (1986) was the highlight of the late evening.
Mix me another Alka-Seltzer, Mabel.
Fast forward a couple of decades.
Now that CBBC and CBeebies have their own channels, there’s no children’s service on BBC One early morning, so the schedulers fall back on Nigellissima (repeat) and football to dominate the morning.
They must feel that no New Year’s Day is complete without a helping of Attenborough, for we then have a repeat of Attenborough and the Mammoth Graveyard.
Here comes the Weakest Link again at 6.15pm, and as on New Year’s Day for the past the past two years, Doctor Who is front and centre with the Eve of the Daleks, starring Jodie Whittaker.
The face of comedy has morphed down the decades into that of Michael McIntyre with The Wheel at 8pm.
At 9pm, a new much anticipated drama, The Tourist, with Jamie Dornan explodes onto the screen and could make this year’s Ne-er Day TV more memorable than previous ones.
Mrs Brown’s Boys at 10pm isn’t a repeat, but word is folk are getting tired of this form of comedy.
Only two repeats on BBC One – what about BBC Two?
Ten repeats on the channel through the day, and a fistful of old movies.
Thankfully, Joan Collins to the rescue.
The new documentary about her life, This Is Joan Collins going out at 9pm, unfortunately in a direct clash with The Tourist on the other side.
The film, described as being “told from the ringside”, sees Dame Joan look through her “own rollercoaster seven decades in showbiz – with her inimitable wit and verve”, the BBC said.
Worth staying awake for.
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