The Christmas issue of the Radio Times is out alongside other similar publications and newspaper supplements telling us what to expect from television over the festive season. I single out the Radio Times, not for any particular promotional intentions but for sentimental reasons because the RT at this time of the year reminds me that at one time in my life, my younger days, Christmas was magical, special, exciting and even thrilling, and a large part of the emotional high was browsing the menu of TV programmes. Buying the Christmas Radio Times was essential when I was growing up and I used to turn the pages slowly, salivating over the shows and films to come.
Now when I buy the Christmas issue, and I still do, there is no thrill and little magic because, I reckon, I am sick and tired of the same old conveyor belt of celebrities who dominate chat shows, panel games, reality gigs, quizzes and shallow documentaries throughout the year. Light entertainment TV shovels the usual suspects down the tube and into our living rooms relentlessly. If we have a mind to, and I don't, we can even watch them strut their stuff and do their thing through our gadgets. People complain about the oft-repeated Great Escape but from Camp Celebrity there is no escape whatsoever, especially at this time of the year.
What has happened to this once excitable child? Well, I've grown up and any young innocence I had has been eroded by cynicism, some weariness, a large dose of apathy and creeping boredom when it comes to TV. I spent a long time in business management, a world full of cliches and claptrap, slogans and soundbites and one phrase always baffled me - less is more. Now, I think I understand. When it comes to television and a lot of other things in life, there is too much stuff going on, too much to watch, read, listen to, absorb and digest. In an age of two channels and then four, there seemed to be more choice and quality, if nostalgia is not distorting my memory. Now, with hundreds of channels and outlets, there seems to be fewer reasons to bother with celebrity specials, repeats and much of TV generally.
At Christmas and throughout the year, I'm a DVD box set kinda guy and I give thanks to whoever invented the remote control, especially that lovely touch, the off button.
But I do miss turning the pages of the bumper Radio Times slowly and feeling the magic. When I was a kid, come the end of December, the well-thumbed magazine would be in tatters. Nowadays, it is almost as pristine as when I bought it.