It seems not long ago that I sat down to write about what festive treats the TV networks were serving up for us in 2013, yet here we are again: entering the final month of this year, which means it’s time for the Christmas specials to come creeping out once more. Unless, of course, you’ve been watching Channel 5 over the past few weeks; they’ve wasted no time at all in rolling out the festive films!
Monday 1st December
Phillip Schofield’s Text Santa Marathon
Since its launch in 2011, ITV’s Text Santa appeal has raised a huge £15 million for various charities across the UK. However, it still doesn’t seem to be having a huge impact on the nation. Maybe it’s too soon after Children in Need. Maybe it’s simply too close to Christmas. Whatever the reason, ITV’s third favourite presenter (after Messrs McPartlin and Donnelly, of course), Phillip Schofield, is hoping to raise more awareness for the cause and, hopefully, more money for the six charities involved – more information on which is available on the Text Santa website – by hosting a 24-hour telethon with the aid of some celebrity pals.
Dropping by to help Phil get through his time on air will be the stars of Coronation Street and Emmerdale, Pixie Lott, The Vamps, Ben Hanlin, some former I’m a Celebrity campmates and even Ant & Dec themselves, on a live link from Australia.
The intrepid Silver Fox will also be getting involved in a few activities as his time on ITV3 – along with the occasional stint on ITV and ITV2 – will see him compete in a national pub quiz, host a live auction for top celebrity memorabilia, become an honorary Loose Woman for the day (ITV, 12:30pm) and be presented with what the network are calling ‘the challenge of a lifetime’…
If you want to make Phillip’s efforts worthwhile, you can donate to Text Santa via his Just Giving page. All proceeds to Text Santa are divided equally between the six chosen charities: Teenage Cancer Trust, WellChild, Together for Short Lives, Marie Curie Cancer Care, Guide Dogs and the Alzheimer’s Society.
Also today: Digital channel Gold kicks off its 25 Days of Christmas; BBC1 answers the question Could I Get Ebola? (7:30pm); Lauren Laverne presents coverage of the announcement of the winner of the Turner Prize (Channel 4, 7:30pm); Wild Weather With Richard Hammond begins by looking at wind (BBC1, 9:00pm); and Channel 5 counts down the Most Shocking TV Moments (10:00pm).
Tuesday 2nd December
17 Kids and Counting
Channel 4, 9:00pm
Luckily for Schofe, following his 24-hour telethon, he might just be asleep when this documentary airs.
Since we last saw the Radford family as part of the series 16 Kids and Counting last year, a few things have changed. Some of the older children are now looking to leave home, which one may think would give parents Sue and Noel a chance to enjoy a – slightly – quieter home but ‘one’ would be wrong as they are now looking forward to becoming grandparents again.
This one-off documentary follows the Radfords as they prepare for their new arrival and deal with the general trials and tribulations of being Britain’s largest family.
Also today: The semi-final of UK’s Strongest Man (Channel 5, 7:00pm); a repeat of last year’s documentary, Britain’s Craziest Christmas Lights (Channel 5, 8:00pm); Autopsy looks at The Last Hours of Elvis Presley (Channel 5, 9:00pm); and there’s another chance to see the 2013 Christmas special of The Sarah Millican Television Programme (BBC2, 10:00pm) – which funnily enough features Phillip Schofield.
Wednesday 3rd December
After firing James last week – or Derek, as I believe he is now affectionately known – Lord Sugar sets the remaining eight candidates a task entitled ‘Ten Years of Discount Buying’.
Having been told the task by Lord Sugar personally at the house, Teams Summit and Tenacity set out across London in the hope of finding a range of items featured in the previous nine series of the show – but in the hope of spending the least amount of money, not the most. A bit like Supermarket Sweep in reverse.
Surprisingly, despite 20 candidates starting out, this series of The Apprentice has allowed many characters to shine through: Steven, Daniel, Felipe and, of course, the aforementioned James. My favourite candidate, however, and the person I’m rooting for throughout the ‘process’ (the very use of that word make me despise myself) is Katie (pictured, right). Ok, she may be a fellow Mackem but she is also a very good businesswoman, it seems; she’s forceful, brimming with determination and very clever. Unlike many candidates, though, she manages to be all of this without also coming across as vindictive and ruthless. I like to think of her as a slightly watered-down Luisa Zissman.
Of course, Dara Ó Briain follows the main show with the brilliant The Apprentice: You’re Fired! on BBC2. This week, he’s joined by entrepreneur, Mike Soutar and comedian, Romesh Ranganathan.
Also today: Chris Terrill presents documentary series Living on the Edge (Channel 5, 7:00pm); and I’m sure little description is needed for Asbo & Proud (Channel 5, 10:00pm).
Thursday 4th December
The Railway: First Great Western
Channel 5, 8:00pm
This documentary series taking a look inside one of the UK’s largest rail companies returns for a second series.
Last year, we met many of the ticket inspectors, drivers and technical folk who help to keep First Great Western going day-to-day. We saw the daily struggles that they go through, coping with customer complaints, negative press and issues with the rail network, and tonight’s opening episode is no different as we find out how the staff managed to get through the bad weather of last winter.
Also today: Kirsty Young presents the final Crimewatch round up of the year (BBC1, 9:00pm).
Friday 5th December
The Graham Norton Show
It’s quite widely noted that Graham Norton has a consistently high calibre of guests for his show – arguably higher than that of Alan Carr and Jonathan Ross. Many use this argument as a case for Graham’s show being in some way better than his contemporaries’ but I disagree: calibre doesn’t always equal entertainment in my opinion, and I often prefer to see British performers on such shows rather than big Hollywood types, who are no doubt sick of the seemingly endless queue of interviewers wanting to find out about their latest role.
The big names undoubtedly draw in huge audiences, though, and I can’t imagine a booking more guaranteed to do this than One Direction, who are chatting and performing on Graham’s show this week. They’re not alone on the sofa, though, as Michael Keaton and Jamie Oliver also drop by for a chat, and there will of course be more stories in the infamous Red Chair.
Fingers crossed Harry Styles can find some personality to prevent the interview from dragging along.
Also today: Jack Dee hosts Have I Got News For You (BBC1, 9:00pm); Ross Noble, Kathy Lette and Sue Perkins are quizzed on all things gender-related on QI (BBC2, 10:00pm); and Alan Carr welcomes George Ezra and Lee Evans, who will hopefully find the balance between absurdity and sincerity – unlike on The Jonathan Ross Show last week (Channel 4, 10:00pm).
The next This Week in TV (for 6th – 12th December) will be published at midnight on Monday (1st December).
Are you particularly looking forward to any of these shows or is there something else from the world of TV which you want to have your say about? Feel free to comment below or tweet me –@UKTVReviewer.
Image credits: Phillip Schofield’s Text Santa Marathon – ©ITV PLC; 17 Kids and Counting – Thanks to Channel 4 and Lion TV; The Apprentice – Thanks to BBC, ©Boundless/Jim Marks Photography; The Railway: First Great Western – Thanks to Channel 5; The Graham Norton Show – Thanks to BBC and Christopher Baines, ©So TV.