The Herald on Sunday - Sunday Herald Life - - NEWS -

THERE was good news this week, which, on closer in­spec­tion, turned out to be nowhere near as good as it might have been.

“The BBC are to bring a host of box sets and clas­sic pro­grammes back to BBC iPlayer to watch over the hol­i­day pe­riod,” trum­peted the an­nounce­ment, which is the kind of thing to get any self-re­spect­ing TV buff sali­vat­ing. Be­fore read­ing be­yond that sen­tence, my head was al­ready fill­ing with a happy fes­tive fan­ta­sia in which I would tell ev­ery­one I know I was suf­fer­ing a healthy splash of norovirus, then spend Christ­mas week locked away alone, gorg­ing on this stuff.

Be­cause there would be all those Are­nas, wouldn’t there? And Likely Lads busi­ness, and all the Ghost Sto­ries For Christ­mas, of course, and Plays For To­day, and maybe bits from great old weird shows like Dead Of Night, or Out Of The Un­known, as ra­dio­phonic as you please, and, and, and …

And then I read the rest of the press re­lease. “A huge slate of drama pro­gram­ming will be re­turn­ing … the first three se­ries of Peaky Blin­ders … hit se­ries Taboo, star­ring Tom Hardy … Wolf Hall, star­ring Mark Ry­lance … all four se­ries of ac­claimed crime-thriller Line Of Duty and both se­ries of Sally Wain­wright’s Bafta-win­ning Happy Val­ley … Sher­lock fans will also be able to re­live past ad­ven­tures, with se­ries three and four as well as 2016’s spe­cial, The Abom­inable Bride.”

I mean, eh? Okay, there are some de­cent shows there. Well, Wolf Hall and Happy Val­ley are al­right. And Line Of Duty and Taboo are funny. And if you didn’t see them when they were on iPlayer five min­utes ago, it’s good to have the chance to see them now. But, clearly, the BBC is wield­ing the word “clas­sic” here in a way that is en­tirely new. Ah, but wait, there’s more.

“And, in time for Peter Ca­padi’s last ap­pear­ance as The Doc­tor, fans can en­joy ev­ery re­gen­er­a­tion episode of Doc­tor Who …” – this is more like it – “… from 2005 on­wards.” Sorry, what? 2005 on­wards? Who cares about that? Couldn’t they put on some­thing like Web Of Fear, the “lost” Pa­trick Troughton “Yetis in the un­der­ground” story from 1968 that was re­dis­cov­ered in 2013? That would’ve been a proper treat, sweet, creepy, set-shak­ing fun. And if they re­ally feel the need to re­peat Sher­lock, couldn’t they at least pair it with some of the old Sher­lock Holmes they used to do, star­ring Dou­glas Wilmer or Peter Cush­ing?

I mean, Keith Richards did in­fin­itely bet­ter than this rum­mag­ing through the archives when they gave him BBC Four to play with for a few nights ear­lier this year. As it is, the most clas­sic this open­ing of the archives gets is another air­ing for the 1986 East­End­ers Christ­mas episode. Pah. On a pos­i­tive, they are putting up ev­ery episode of In­side No. 9, which is an ex­cel­lent thing in many ways. Not least be­cause last year’s Christ­mas spe­cial is like watch­ing an ob­scure 1970s pro­gramme, like they should be putting on.

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