Adopting a family viewing approach, the BBC appears to have produced a winning formula. Box-office smashes such as Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and Shrek seem guaranteed to take the lion's share of viewing. There are also Christmas episodes of The Vicar of Dibley and Absolutely Fabulous - ratings winners, if formulaic. Meanwhile, ITV is relying on a celebrity Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, extended episodes of Emmerdale and Coronation Street, Midsomer Murders and a star-studded Parkinson.
Perhaps ITV's schedule recognises the anticipated downturn in advertising revenue in the last two weeks of December. ITV ruled the roost during the preceding 50 weeks of the year, serving both advertisers and viewers with a more consistently strong schedule than the BBC.
Under pressure to justify the licence fee, and with big-hitting programmes such as Only Fools And Horses, The Royle Family and The Office now readily available on DVD, the BBC has a great deal to prove. It needs to learn that good programming should not just be for Christmas.
- Channels: BBC, ITV.