Christmas

Boxing Day Radio Times 2018

The third of three days’ worth of useful help to plan your TV entertainment.

You’re welcome!

In case you didn’t want to watch a new version of The ABC Murders on BBC1 (or indeed, watch the older version on ITV3 just to spoil your later entertainment), then there is always the radio – including a new episode of the fabulous radio sitcom, Party!

A reminder that clicking through on either image may make it more legible.

NB. I’ve been providing this “service” for ages now. The back catalogue is all here. 

Christmas Day Radio Times 2018

Happy Christmas everyone!

You’re probably stuffing your face with discounted Celebrations and Quality Street, or hitting the web early to get all those online sales.

There are probably a few arguments and the usual Christmas merriment. Some are already planning how soon they can return an unwanted gift – or at least re-gift it.

But there’s always Christmas television to keep the nation entertained. And let us not forget, radio too.

As ever, I continue my festive high- and low-lights guides to what to watch (and what not to watch) this Christmas.

If you need to give the TV a rest, then why not listen to some radio?

A reminder that clicking through on either image may make it more legible.

NB. I’ve been providing this “service” for ages now. The back catalogue is all here. 

Christmas Eve Radio Times 2018

The big day is nearly here, and having navigated trains and traffic, cursed at airport drone-flyers, and got annoyed with people using smartphones in front of you in the street, you’re feeling all Christmassy!

These days of course, there is serious competition from the streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. And this year, the BBC has 100 boxsets available on iPlayer! 

In other words, there is a lot of other stuff to watch besides what the pages of Radio Times have to offer.

Nonetheless, I’ve run my pen and Post-It notes over the pages again, and here’s what you perhaps should – and shouldn’t – be watching today!

And of course, it’s not just about the television. There’s some radio too!

As ever, click through to see larger versions that might be a bit more legible.

NB. I’ve been providing this “service” for ages now. The back catalogue is all here.

The Sleigh List

Snowmen in Carnaby Street-6

In the last couple of days I’ve read a couple of pieces on when is the right time to start playing Christmas music on the radio.

David Lloyd has updated a blog he wrote a couple of years ago, including some research Orion Media conducted on this very matter, alongside various other pieces of research that he has collated. In summary, the most popular option was the start of December, but a decent number of people wanted to hear music as soon as early November, while perhaps a fifth of listeners don’t want to hear Christmas music until three weeks’ out or less.

Yet there’s undoubtedly a bit of a race on with some stations starting very early with their Christmas output – particularly in the US. And in the UK Smooth Extra became Smooth Christmas mid-way through November. And Smooth is not alone. The latest Ofcom radio bulletin notes the addition of The Wave Xmas, Signal Xmas, Pulse Xmas, Royal Marsden Xmas and Nation Xmas to various DAB multiplexes.

(It’s also worth noting that some of those slightly tatty satellite movie channels rebrand themselves as “Christmas” channels at the start of November, somehow finding stocks of Christmas themed TV movies that will last them the thick end of two and a half months. I assume it has some kind of uptick in their ratings, although I think having my finger nails pulled off would be less painful than watching them.)

On Radio Today, Steve Penk has written a piece explaining why he thinks most stations start too late. He says he started adding Christmas music to his Music Channel from 6 November.

So are stations out of whack with listners? Should they be playing more Christmas music and sooner?

Well here are some of my issues with starting earlier:

  • The “Sleigh List” is not that deep. Every year another bunch of artists release Christmas albums, perhaps in the hope that one of those songs will generate royalties for ever more (c.f. main character Will Freeman living off his father’s royalties in the Nick Hornby novel, About A Boy). But the selection of bona fide Christmas hits seems to still fit happily on one Now That’s What I Call Christmas box set (and even then, the 2015 release seems to have quite a few dodgy “filler” entries, particularly on the third CD). This is important because…
  • Your core listeners spend many hours with your station. Basically a relatively small proportion of a stations’ listeners account for the vast majority of its listening hours. These listeners are really important for commercial services, since they’re accounting for a large chunk of a station’s commercial inventory. You do not want to annoy these listeners. While much radio research talks about “P1” listeners – those who’s first radio preference is your station – that doesn’t taken into account the fact that even P1s have different levels of listening. If I’m an Absolute Radio listener, but only listen to the radio in the car going to work and coming home again, then I’m an Absolute Radio “P1”, but don’t come close to the listening hours of someone who spends most of the day with Absolute Radio. They’re also probably P1s, but they listen much longer.
  • Not everyone treats Christmas the same. Young families get more excited about it; some people start buying presents in June; my downstairs neighbour put their decorations up over the weekend; I saw a healthy trade in Christmas trees from one of those layby places the previous weekend. But others are more measured. Trees are sold throughout December; presents are bought right up to Christmas Eve; poorer families don’t enjoy the cost of Christmas, and perhaps don’t like the pressure of the season; not everyone decorates their homes on 1st December (then ripping the decorations down on Boxing Day, somehow forgetting the “12 days of Christmas” are actually the days after Christmas); some don’t celebrate Christmas at all, perhaps for cultural or religious reasons.
  • But all the shops are playing Christmas music, so my station must! First of all, let me say I feel very sorry for shop workers at this time of year – that Now album on a continuous loop. I recently visited a branch of Muji which was playing an appalling version of Silent Night on the 20th November. I couldn’t get out of that shop fast enough. Not everyone needs to hear this music all the time. But in any case, most people don’t spend that much time in shops. Visiting a supermarket for a weekly shop, or hitting the stores to buy presents is one thing. But in comparison to the amount of time people spend listening to the radio – 21.5 hours a week – very little time is spent in shops. So it’s understandable that stores want you to feel Christmassy and buy Christmas stuff in the relatively brief time you spend on their premises. I’m not aware of any radio programmers who otherwise pay much attention to what music Asda’s playing in store!

Personally, I don’t need to hear Christmas music incessantly between now and December 25th. Indeed at this point, any station that plays a Christmas song too soon is likely to be tuned out very quickly if I’m within reach of the set.

But just because John Lewis and Sainsburys had their Christmas ads out in the middle of November, it doesn’t mean that the Christmas tracks should immediately be front of stage. Remember, not everyone wants to hear Wizzard, Chris Rea and Wham! on a loop. Don’t hate me, but I’m profoundly fed-up with Fairytale of New York too…

Kite Aerial Photography #3 – Christmas Success

What better day than Christmas Day to have a third attempt at some kite aerial photography? My first couple of attempts were disappointing to say the least. I’ve found it tricky to find both a location and enough wind to get the kite up supporting the camera, but not too much wind to cause me to fear losing the kite!

But today, with the wind at around 8-10mph (I bought a cheap anemometer), the weather was perfect. And what better way to walk off a Christmas lunch than fly a kite. I was also using my Sony AS15 Action Cam for the first time. This is a model that has been superseded now, but it was cheap in one of those Amazon deals before Christmas. And because GoPros have the market to themselves, you get better specifications from other manufacturers. This model will live stream to a mobile device via WiFi – something that only the most expensive GoPros offer. Although the camera lost contact if you wound the line too far, I was able to see what the camera was seeing on my mobile phone from the ground!

The downside is that for stills, the photos the AS15 takes are quite low resolution. There are a few more here.

But here’s a short video that begins to explore what’s possible. I’ve slowed the majority of this footage down to about 40% speed (the video is 30fps but was shot at 60fps, so this should be reasonable). But it might be worth using some of the slow motion functions in future, since the wind can cause the camera to bounce around quite a lot. When I played it back on a full-size TV, some found it akin to sea-sickness!

The other issue I had to cope with was condensation in the camera’s housing. You’ll notice a slightly foggy image in some of the shots. Something to keep an eye on in future.

Anyway, I’m pleased with the progress so far. But I really must invest in some way to get the line in and out faster, since my rig requires you to manually adjust the view from the kite!

Kite Over Sheringham from Adam Bowie on Vimeo.