Monday, 22 December 2008

The Xmas Special 2008 – part one (comedy)

I didn't grow up in a household with a lot of Xmas traditions. I have friends who did and they are much more...Xmassy than I ever am. Is it a shame? Is there something missing in my life? Well, if there is there's not much I can do about it now!

One thing that was always a big part of Xmas for us growing up though was TV. We watched loads of it (and I mean LOADS). We watched mainly films and comedy at Xmas (my peak TV years being...about 1975-1983) and I went trawling about in YouTube to find a few clips that made me think of seasonal cheer. First off...'The Two Ronnies'. I can't see a date on this one but this is fairly typical Corbett & Barker (clever wordplay, slight smut and a reassuring good-natured friendliness between them):

I loved a lot of comedy in the 1970s (and when I say 'loved' I really do mean 'loved'). It's another of those things that links me to the Dad I didn't really know – he was a huge comedy fan too. I'm not one of those people who says comedy isn't as good as it used to be either – there is some useless stuff on now (and some stuff that I'm now just too middle-aged for!) but there is great new comedy too. I watched Bill Bailey's 'Tinselworm' DVD the other week – some pure silliness but some pure brilliance. I would really recommend that as long Xmas evening viewing.

But back to Xmas past – here's a fairly long clip from 'The Good Life' Xmas Special from 1977. The voices are all a bit hooray now (the BBC standard accent has changed a bit...) but in many ways the show was years ahead of its time. Look at Tom and Barbara's green lifestyle! But of course the show was really all about the lovely Margot and her amazing wardrobe, snobberies and turns of phrase. 'Shoes, Jerry!' What marvellous memories (and quite a lot of smut was the decade of the innuendo)!

And then of course the fathers of Xmas, the cheekiest elves, the naughtiest uncles... Morecambe and Wise. Here's the end of their 1976 Xmas Special - short (like Ern) but very sweet. Some years the Morecambe and Wise Specials just WERE Xmas in our house (and I don't think we were alone in that). And doesn't Eric look spookily like Philip Larkin sometimes? I still love them...with a passion. It's quite strange the feelings that last, isn't it? Anyway...happy holidays...and happy viewing...



Dominic Rivron said...

I thought watching loads of telly WAS a Christmas tradition :)

Few comedians are as funny as M & W. Paul Merton?

My favourite moment from Have I got News for You (worthy of Eric Morecambe):

Chair: What was your school motto?

Glenda Jackson (who hasn't been paying attention); Are you looking at me?

Paul Merton: Must've been a tough school.

Rachel Fox said...

Yes, but sometimes we took it too far. I seem to remember literally watching TV all day one Xmas. I was about 13, I think.

I agree with you - Paul Merton is very funny...on HIGNFY anyway. I also like David Mitchell on TV just now. Will probably think of others tomorrow.

We just watched one of those Xmassy programmes on BBC4 about comedy songs. It was great!


Marion McCready said...

The only Christmas tradition we had was leaving pancakes and a can of Tennents out for santa on Christmas Eve, lol.

I loved The Good Life when I was a kid! The only comedy I watch now on a regular basis is River City!!

Fiendish said...

May you and your loved ones have the happiest of Christmases, with much excellent TV included. Especially of the retro variety :)

Kat Mortensen said...

Although I'm a Canadian, we were often glued to the t.v. set watching Brit-coms in the 70s and 80s. We loved, many of them, but "Man About the House", "The Two Ronnies" and my dad's favourite: "On The Buses" spring to mind, particularly. We just thought OTB was hilarious! Olive reminded me of my cousin, Barbara and Blakie was a bit like my best friend, Jane's, dad.
A love of British comedy has endured. Because of the American station PBS, we have been treated to just about anything you guys have dished up. The only thing I never was exposed to was "Morecambe and Wise".
As an adult, I've been partial to Rowan Atkinson in "Blackadder" and "The Thin Blue Line", but lately the British comedies are geared to the twenty-somethings rather than a wide range of age-groups and inevitably they end up being copied over here. We are currently watching a remake of "Worst Week" (we wonder how long it can last, really).

Kevin and I are quite caught up in an American comedy called "The Big Bang Theory". If you get sci-fi references and relate to geeks, look for it, because it's a riot.


P.S. Loved Richard Briers in the adaptation of Wodehouse's "Heavy Weather". He is always good.

Kat Mortensen said...

Just watched the Morecambe and Wise and I can't help but liken them to the popular Canadian duo, Wayne and Schuster.

Check this out and see if you don't agree:

(It's an acquired taste, but I fall on the floor laughing at these guys.)

Anonymous said...

To be honest, it's only Eric and Ernie that I really miss from those overstuffed, couch-bound yuletide tele days. And, yes, a dead-ringer for the Hull librarian. How come I never noticed before?

Happy days to you and yours, Rachel. I'm glad to have discovered you in '08 and look forward to many mutual visits in '09.

Liz said...

Oh yes, Rachel, boy, have you dug up memories for me here! I loved The Good Life and Morcambe and Wise...we were a Christmas TV family that was always high on the list was Only Fools and Horses...Del boy and the gang...loved it! The 70s definitely was the innuendo decade...; )

Rachel Fox said...

Sorlil...yes alcohol for Santa here too.

TV will be all kids films this Xmas I think, Fiendish. Shrek, Shrek and more Shrek. When Mamma Mia is on I will find things to do in the kitchen! I'll probably watch The Royle Family on Xmas Day. That can have some great little lines...hidden away in ordinary chat.

Yes, Kat, I liked 'Man about the House' and it's follow-up 'Robin's Nest'. I did watch 'On the Buses' but it wasn't our big favourite. I quite liked 'Bless this House' and all the Carry Ons too.

Blackadder was brilliant. There is a new comedy called The IT Crowd which is pretty good - we were watching that the other day. That's still watcheable for the over 20s!

Yes, Dick, good to have met you too. All the best of 09.

And Liz...Only Fools..came a bit after my peak watching time (but Mark and his family watched it). He's a bit younger than me so maybe you are too!

Glad you're all enjoying the spirit of Morcambe and Wise! After watching the comedy song programme last night I am putting in my order for Victoria Wood DVDs for my birthday ( late to ask Santa). Again I wasn't watching TV for a lot of her peak time so I have friends who quote whole sketches but I only know little scraps of them.

Rachel Fox said...

Typos galore in that comment. Standards are slipping for Xmas, obviously.

Jim Murdoch said...

Yes, I used to remember going through the Xmas editions of the Radio and TV Times and planning how I was going to wangle watching everything I wanted. Some things were a given, like Morecambe and Wise, but the thing that I've not seen in years is a season of films featuring one director or star. They don't seem to do that any more.

Unknown said...

All good classic comedy moments - are you looking forward to Blackadder Rides Again... and I have been enjoying reruns of the Father Ted Christmas specials too...

Rachel Fox said...

Oh yes Father Ted! That's one I got into a bit late (it was on during one of my no-TV phases) but I do really enjoy it now.

Probably will watch the Blackadder at some point. We do a lot of recording on one of those magic recording boxes (and then watching much later on).

Happy Xmas to all your tribe, Barbara. And to you Jim. Ho ho ho and all that.

Dave King said...

I don't think you are missing too much. Not too much that matters, anyway. My wife and I both grew up in households where all those special Christmas things happened. I think we are very Christmassy, but neither of our children are, not in the same way, yet Christmas seems to matter as much to them as to us.

Ken Armstrong said...

I love watching TV at Christmas. Some years I got hooked on some unusual series - one year there was a daily run of a super series about the American Civil War using letters and photos and a great soundtrack... I know, not my kind of thing normally but it was brill!! :)

Rab C is coming back too.

Rachel Fox said...

Thanks Dave...of course I have since been remembering all the traditions we did have...we did a lot of visiting friends and taking cards and presents which I always enjoyed...and I suppose I do carry on that tradition. If I could come and visit all of you with a card and a bottle of something I would!

And you know I have never watched Rab C. Suppose I should now I'm sort of Scottish!