Unmissable: I love Christmas films, but let’s save them for, well, Christmas

Dan Ackroyd and Eddie Murphy in Trading Places. pic: c.Everett Collection / Rex Featu

Dan Ackroyd and Eddie Murphy in Trading Places. pic: c.Everett Collection / Rex Featu - Credit: Photograph: c.Everett Collection

Here in the newsroom at EADT Towers we have a quote list on our noticeboard, carrying some of the bizarre and ridiculous outbursts and remarks made by reporters over the last year or so. I’ve made a few appearances, but my most notable exclamation is actually absent.


“I bloody love Christmas more than life itself”, I insisted this time last year, as the festive rota was drawn up, earmarking those unlucky few who have to man the phones and fill the paper on December 25. It worked. I got out of the big day. But it’s been thrown back at me in mocking fashion ever since, mainly by my two late-shift colleagues.

And I do love Crimbo. I love the food, the games, the presents, the afternoon snooze on Boxing Day, the songs (Greg Lake’s I Believe in Father Christmas is my number one) and of course I love the films and TV.

Now, before we go any further, this is not another article about the John Lewis Christmas ad and how it makes me feel all soft and Christmassy. In fact, I haven’t even seen the ad and I probably won’t. Thanks to the wonders of Sky+ I can speed through the feelgood festive offerings from the retail behemoth without having to listen to some winsome songstress ruining a perfectly good Oasis track. No, this is about seasonal TV in general, more specifically the Sky Christmas Movies channel, which launched in the first week of November. I repeat that in case you missed it: the first week of November. It’s a dedicated channel showing all your favourite Crimbo classics, a few less-than-top-notch films and some tatty straight-to-DVD drivel to pad things out. The likes of It’s a Wonderful Life, Gremlins, Die Hard, Elf, Miracle on 34th Street, Holiday Inn and The Muppet Christmas Carol are all there, and well worth watching – once we’re in mid-to-late December. Trading Places – my personal favourite – is a classic comedy but is much more enjoyable when the big day is just around the corner, not six weeks away. And it’s not just Sky Movies that is trying to ruin Christmas before it’s begun. Channel 5 is at it too. Last Sunday it showed a hat-trick of (most probably awful) festive films. The Town Christmas Forgot, The Christmas Bunny and Defending Santa filled out much of the afternoon. This weekend it’s no different – today it’s Defending Santa, Trading Christmas, Farewell Mr Kringle and Dear Santa, while tomorrow it’s My Santa, A Fairytale Christmas and The Christmas Secret. Unless you’re a Steve Guttenberg or Dean Cain fan, no-one needs to see any of these movies at all, let alone waste a Sunday watching them in early November.

At least Sky Christmas is offering Home Alone, Bad Santa and Batman Returns. It’s one thing to start people off on their Christmas shopping or get them to begin planning for the food they’ll need for all the hosting they plan to do, but it’s quite another to start shovelling seasonal movies down children’s throats so far in advance. I expect it’s tricky enough keeping youngsters calm at this time of year, when every time you go into town the shops are pumping out the Pogues, while when you head to Sainsbury’s or Tesco the shelves are filled with goodies tempting them to begin their annual pleading.

Window and store displays are already in full swing for many retailers and the big coffee chains quickly packed away their pumpkin-spiced mocha latte syrup within seconds of Halloween ending and unpacked the red cups, eggnog mix and tinsel-flavoured toffee muffins.

I sound like a grumpy old Scrooge though I really am not, and it’s always said Christmas seems to start earlier and earlier each year, but in the case of festive films I think we’ve reached a watershed.

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Keep the Gremlins locked up for at least three more weeks, please. Book your place at the Holiday Inn and make your plans to pop down 34th Street, but not until we’re well into December, thanks. Have a little Elf control (sorry).

What do you think? Email me at elliot.furniss@archant.co.uk or via Twitter @Elliot_Furniss

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