Christmas Radio Times anticipation

Christmas Radio Times 1979

Even though I’ve actually worked at the BBC now for many a year and *other* listings magazines are of course available,  Christmas really *starts* for me with the accelerated publishing schedule for the Radio Times leading up to the first appearance of the “legendary” double issue (probably this Friday). This kicked off in earnest last Tuesday with the start of a mad, 5 weeks worth of listings and 4 editions of the magazine being published in the space of 11 days.

Given that this crazy addiction of mine began at the age of 8 when i used to hotfoot it to my grandparents house next door and read the new edition on a Tuesday before school and because they had it delivered, then I suppose i shouldn’t be suprised that the joy of picking up what is now nearly a 300 page mag is still one of those #1 christmas thrills. And rumours of its demise are over exaggerated. Despite the competition, despite EPGs, despite everything, it still pulls in over 1m copies an issue and over Christmas its still the largest selling magazine in the UK.

Circling what you’re going to watch in the double issue is as traditional as making jokes about the Great Escape ‘always being on’ (First appearance in the Whatever Happened to Likely Lads Xmas special in…1974) .

Christmas Radio Times 1983

But what i’ve discovered this year is that in The TV forum over at Digital Spy they now have a traditional “countdown” thread where users discuss the timetable for the double edition being on sale. It was opened in …September!

And I empathise with nearly all the 280 sentiments on offer. My favourites are the barely suppressed anger at newsagents for not getting the christmas edition on sale quick enough and a Likely Lads (them again…well this is an exclusively male pursuit)  type panic that you might encounter the listings *early* by reading press information now made available publicly from the BBC or reading those dreadful tabloid early versions (they came out last week)  which contain wrong timings and dozens of “to be announceds”. Just some of the comments:

  • I’ve resisted subscribing thus far. It’s an “event ” to put on my winter scarf and coat and getting the Christmas Radio Times!!. (
  • i got lucky [looking for a 6-12 Dec edition] from a WHSMITH store in chester. i hadn’t expected it as i had gone to TESCOs all up the wirral ,chester etc & other WH smiths store but with no joy. (emails)
  • My hand is twitching RT Xmas edition is nearly here. I may just flick through last years edition. (SNC)
  • Oh Dear. I’ve got them going back to 1975 (marke09)

Christmas Radio Times 2007

My big dilemma is that rather annoyingly the other mags (TV Times etc) tend to turn up a day early. Do I ruin the fun by buying one of them and waiting for the *radio* (nobody does that as well) in the Radio Times usually the next day. So anyway I’ll be sniffing around Smiths and some of the newstands on Friday although I don’t think I’ll get lucky until Saturday morning. One year I went to Gatwick Airport and struck gold in WH Smith there. Just don’t expect me to look up for two hours after I’ve found it.

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4 responses to “Christmas Radio Times anticipation

  1. You can’t possibly buy one of those “other” listings magazines, regardless of whether they’re available or not.

    I’m with you. The Radio Times Christmas special is a firm favourite for me although, alas, I haven’t kept a back catalogue.

    Without revealing too much of my latent OCD, I have to confess I do usually set aside a full day to read over the entire listings making sure I have two fat marker pens by my side to indicate which needs to be recorded and which should be watched live.

    Yes, I’m that sad.

  2. The trouble in recent years has come from the tabloids which publish their Christmas listings really early, even before the BBC and ITV have finished the schedule themselves. So you flick through The Sun and discover that there are lots of TBAs on Boxing Day which is no fun at all.

    So I hold back. My DigiGuide subscription lapsed a couple of months ago so I won’t be looking there. Radiotimes.com has listings going forward further than bbc.co.uk, but it’s a pain to use. There’s the Programme Info that’s drip-released on the bbc.co.uk/pressoffice site, but it’s not complete.

    And in any case, none of them will have the radio coverage that Radio Times still has. In yesteryears, there’d be the joy of discovering that there was to be a I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue “panto” for Christmas morning, or that they’re doing something interesting (like the year they gave Boxing Day over to Harry Potter – nobody’s tried that with the longer books have they?). Then there are the treats on BBC Four which won’t be in the tabloid/TV Times versions.

    And will Butlins be advertising this year? Once upon a time, when you had to get copies of both the Radio and TV Times, you’d notice that the same advertiser – usually Butlins – had taken the back cover of both publications. I don’t think that’s been the case recently…

  3. Ah, the madness of once buying TWO mags to cover the listings of just FOUR channels. Happy days, lunacy only the British would put up with.

  4. If you have got back copies of these – I’m trying to find a film that was on one christmas around 1979-1983 and I think it was called Stainless steel and ?????. All i know is that it had smash type spacemen and it was hilarious. As far as I know it never got repeated but I would love to know what it was really called and I to see it agiain! Any help would be really appreciated!!!!!!

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