Feeling nostalgic at Christmas time...

Only Fools and Horses.
Only Fools and Horses.
The Bridge Tavern and Camber Dock''''Picture: Paul Simpso

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You’re wearing paper hats and fit to burst after stuffing yourself with turkey and all the trimmings.

As the children play excitedly with their presents, the grown-ups find a comfy chair and settle down in front of the telly.

Comedy duo Eric Morecambe (left) and Ernie Wise in 1974.

Comedy duo Eric Morecambe (left) and Ernie Wise in 1974.

It’s a Christmas tradition to congregate in the lounge and all sit together to watch the Queen’s speech. But every bit as much a part of the holiday season is the shows and films we’ve seen before yet love to watch again.

Somebody has worked out that, between December 22 and 28, 49 per cent of programmes on the four main terrestrial channels this year will be repeats.

Dr Laurie Ede, course leader in media studies at the University of Portsmouth, believes that we love the nostalgia of Christmas TV because we find it comforting.

He says: ‘Re-runs at Christmas are a bit of a phenomenon and I think that has a lot to do with the fact that television is about comfort. Christmas is a protected and a protective space. We don’t have to work and the shops are shut, so we are away from our normal lives.’

He believes the two shows that many people remember are the Morecambe and Wise Christmas Special and Only Fools and Horses.

Laurie says: ‘They are the ones people talk about and I think this kind of comfort is great for all different members of the family. The older ones remember when it was first on from their own childhood, but for the younger audiences it’s because they remember watching the re-runs.

‘Even now, especially with comedies, new shows refer to the old. Miranda Hart’s sitcom Miranda is based on the work of the people who wrote Dad’s Army and they are both traditional sitcoms.

He adds: ‘Repeats are about memories and family - and if Christmas is about anything it’s about family.’

For many who were children during the 1970s, one of the highlights of Christmas telly would be the Morecambe and Wise Christmas Special. From 1969 until 1980, it always took place on Christmas Day and millions would sit down to enjoy the hilarious sketches.

Fred Dinenage has been gracing our TV screens since the 1970s and is now anchor on Meridian’s nightly news programme. He says: ‘When I was younger we were encouraged to not watch TV, but instead go outside and do something else. But I imagine a lot of people will remember the Morecambe and Wise Christmas specials.

‘I always associate them with Christmas and I think we miss them at this time of year. There’s nothing that has replaced it. I probably watched every single one.’

For Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt, it’s also a big comedy double act that she remembers from her childhood Christmases - The Two Ronnies.

She says: ‘At Christmas I always remember watching Bond movies, but the biggest thing I love to watch are The Two Ronnies Specials. They’re a Christmas staple and it wouldn’t feel right without them.

‘I can’t remember a year where I haven’t watched them. I love all the guest appearances and the sketches. I was born in 1973 so it was a big part of my childhood.’

She adds: ‘I don’t think you could ever turn over from the Two Ronnies and even the very small sketches are phenomenal.’


Steve Pitt, music promoter and manager of The Cellars at Eastney, can remember watching Christmas specials and says his favourite when he was young was The Two Ronnies.

The 43-year-old, who lives in Eastney, says: ‘They had such fantastic chemistry and the scriptwriting was fantastic too. The partnership was great and something completely different. Everyone watched it.’

As a teenager in the 1980s, Steve recalls a very famous Cockney pair taking over our screens with their Reliant Robin and dodgy dealings..

He says: ‘Only Fools and Horses kind of took over, and I vividly remember one Christmas special called Miami Twice where David Jason played a gangster. It was brilliant.’


The Morecambe and Wise Christmas Special was a ritual for many families in the 1970s, with one of the most famous shows featuring German-American composer Andre Previn in 1971.

One little boy who watched it every year was Denmead-based comedian James Alderson.

He says: ‘I loved the Morecambe and Wise Christmas Special. It was silly, but watching it now would make me feel like a kid again.’


Star of Strictly Come Dancing Lisa Riley loves Christmas and will be starring in the pantomime Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the Kings Theatre in Southsea once she’s finished with her Strictly commitments.

The ex-Emmerdale actress, who is hoping to make the Strictly final, has always had a soft spot for a particularly well-known female vicar. Lisa says: ‘I love watching The Vicar of Dibley. It’s what Christmas is all about and the scripts are brilliant. Dawn French is amazing in it.

‘I mean, everyone remembers when she has to go for about five different Christmas suppers and she pretends she’s not full. We’ve all had to do similar things at Christmas because otherwise we’d feel bad.’

She adds: ‘I love her more than anything and it’s always my favourite thing to watch at Christmas.’


Andrew Foster, 32, is a Southsea-based musician and has been nominated in The News Guide Awards in the Best Solo Artist category.

He says: ‘It wouldn’t be Christmas without Wallace and Gromit. It still hasn’t lost any of its charm now.

‘Wallace and Gromit contains elements of every classic British comedy through the ages.’


Richard Stride, artistic director of Groundlings Theatre in Portsea, is starring as the Queen in the pantomime Sleeping Beauty at the Grand Opera House in York - a fitting role for him.

He explains: ‘We have a tradition in my family that we must watch the Queen’s speech on Christmas Day. We always have to stand up and applaud, which is just a bit of a fun really.’

He adds: ‘I also love classic films such as Mary Poppins.They remind me of Christmas because we watch them so much at Christmas-time.’

Christmas Day repeats this year


11am – Only Fools and Horses, When The Trotters Strike Gold.

11pm – The Vicar of Dibley (an episode from 1999 where Alice helps to save the nativity.


7.30pm – Dad’s Army, For the Love of Three Oranges.

8pm – Blackadder’s Christmas Carol (episode from 1988 which is a parody of the Dickens classic.

Channel 5

10pm, Greatest Christmas TV Moments, including Morecambe and Wise