Santa’s Grotto

We look at some joys – and miseries – of the festive season.

We’re dusting off the elf costumes, mending the papier-mâché grotto and embracing a more innocent era for our own trip to the heyday of the yuletide telly special. Our selection spans the period from The Crazy Gang’s Party (1957) in the early days of ITV, to what many consider the pinnacle of the format, The Morecambe and Wise Christmas Show (1980).

Elsewhere in the grotto, we give a meltingly warm welcome to animated fable The Snowman, a festive fixture since its first broadcast on Channel 4 in 1982. You can revisit the Queen’s very first Christmas Day speech from 1957, or journey back to 1914 and remind yourself we don’t have it so bad by spending Christmas Day in the Workhouse. Meanwhile, spook fans can gather round MR James’ fireside with a collection devoted to the BBC’s A Ghost Story for Christmas strand.

Five to try

Carry on Christmas (1969)

Hawtrey, James, Windsor and co. offer a cheeky take on Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

Tommy Cooper’s Christmas (1973)

Magic, music and sketches with the kooky comedian, with appearances by Sacha Distel and Clodagh Rogers.

Cilla (1974)

The Liverpudlian lovely is joined by David Essex and the Wombles for a special Boxing Day broadcast.

Rod Hull and Emu Sing a Christmas Song (1976)

Chaos descends when Rod and Emu venture to Derbyshire to entertain a theatre full of boisterous schoolchildren. Rolf Harris lends a hand – and a boomerang.

The Val Doonican Show (1976)

Sarah Lund eat your heart out: snuggle up with the jumper-loving Irish crooner for an evening of comedy, warmth and Nana Mouskouri.

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