In days gone by, New Year’s Eve was for me a lengthy drinking session, punctuated by out-of-tune singing at or around midnight. We would tour the pubs in the centre of town and return barely able to speak or find where we lived. These days, I have neither the capacity or the inclination for arduous pub crawls so I tend to switch from TV channel to TV channel trying to find something worth watching. I’m afraid this year I failed dismally.
Growing up, NYE TV consisted of entertainment from Scotland, with kilt-wearing, grinning singers like Andy Stewart and Kenneth McKellar, belting out classics about Scottish soldiers and Auld Lang Syne. It was all there was. So far as I am aware, no one actually enjoyed the shows, but it was compulsory viewing, like watching the Queen’s Christmas speech. Years later, someone had the bright idea of allowing the great Clive James to present a review of the year. This became my NYE essential viewing. These days, TV has given up.
BBC2 shows Jools Holland’s Annual Hootenanny where the former Squeeze keyboard man pretends the show is live when actually it was recorded many months ago and we gasp in amazement and joy at the stellar list of guests. Not so this year. Chaka Khan and Roy Wood, neither of whom have had a meaningful hit in 40 years, provided some nostalgia, as did Seasick Steve who provided his one-trick pony act of growling along to what appeared to be a home made guitar. The rest of the show was far worse than that.
I had the suspicion that the Beeb had cut Holland’s budget and the whole show, or at least what I saw of it, was little more than a plug for the host’s own band, who seemed to accompany every single artist. The show had all the originality of Steve Wright in the Afternoon or the entire schedule on BBC Radio Bristol.
If BBC2 gave us Holland, BBC1 gave us cheeky chappie Robbie Williams, giving a tired run-through of his limited back catalogue, not always reaching the notes he used to manage. Williams and then a spectacular firework display across the Thames, which probably created more air pollution in 10 minutes than several months worth of diesel powered cars crawling round the capital. I’m certainly looking forward to hearing Sadiq Khan defending that one (and I love Sadiq Khan, by the way).
By contrast, ITV simply didn’t bother. An old Harry Potter film, repeats of The Chase and Tipping Point, was the summit of their ambitions. Welcome to 2017. I don’t blame ITV really because, I suspect, much of their audience would have been off their faces and happy to watch just about anything. I would have been happy to watch just about anything else.
To be fair, I don’t really enjoy the Christmas and New Year schedules at all. I hate the review of the year stuff, I don’t watch soaps, I don’t enjoy “family films”. I do not find Mrs Brown’s boys remotely funny, I don’t even know what Dragon’s Den is, I don’t want to watch the blood and gore of Casualty (sorry Charlie) and I don’t like seasonal special shows, like Jools Holland, Bake Off and Strictly which were probably filmed last October. Yes, you’ve got me there: I’m the Grinch.
By this time of year, the first day of it, that is, I am ready for normality to resume, even if that includes work. I’ll be glad when the football season gets back to normal schedules and Radio Five Live starts being live again. In short, I have had enough Christmas thank you very much.
Christmas and the New Year was good fun but I need a rest now.