With a prodigal return in Coronation Street, Midsomer Murders scheduled against BBC's EastEnders and a new, and 'final', episode of Only Fools and Horses on BBC One on Christmas Day, ITV may argue it is not the case, but it appears to have accepted the inevitable and conceded the Christmas ratings war in advance.

While Five is offering a nostalgic experience of Christmas Past (circa 1977) with Tommy Cooper, Morecambe and Wise, and Dame Edna, someone at Channel Four appears to have set out to spoil the mood with a evening dominated by a documentary on playwright John Osborne, culminating in an alternative Christmas message from the matriarch of the kingdom's other high-profile dysfunctional family, Sharon Osbourne.

Elsewhere over the holiday the BBC displays the family jewels with new material from Absolutely Fabulous, Steve Coogan, and The Kumars while ITV dutifully parade seasonal versions of Blind Date and Stars in their Eyes.

Nevertheless, all channels should bow their heads in respect to the BBC for coming up with the strangest of strange holiday programmes: a boxing match between Grant Bovey, famous for being the lucky husband of Anthea Turner, and The Brentmeister, Ricky Gervais.

All in the name of charity perhaps, but why?


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