I thought it might be fun to post a couple of statistics about the films shown on UK television over the last year. These statistics are not fully accurate as I am working from the RadioTimes, so films could have been changed around after the listings were published, but since I was doing it anyway it might be a fun general overview! This relates to the five main channel and their off shoot channels, so BBC1, BBC2, BBC4, ITV1, ITV2, ITV3, ITV4, Channel 4, More4, E4, Film4, Channel 5, 5Star:
No films were shown from the 1920s or older this year, with the oldest film shown on all of the above channels this year from 1933 (I'm afraid I didn't keep track of the title but I'll try to keep tabs for next year). There were fourteen films shown from the 1930s: 1 from 1933, 1 from 1934, 3 from 1935, 4 from 1938, and 5 from 1939 (this is counting repeats as separate showings so I seem to recall that at least three of those 1939 screenings are of The Wizard of Oz). Every year from 1938 up to the present was represented by at least two scheduled screenings. Strangely the year that was responsible for the least screenings was 1972 with only two films from that year shown (thank goodness for The Godfather turning up last Sunday to double the total!). Films made in 2016 and 2017, as you might expect with films being distanced about three to four years back in time before they can play on TV, filled the bulk of the schedules but despite the pandemic 24 films from 2020 premiered this year too, mostly that deluge of Channel 5 TV movies in the last couple of weeks.
The filmmakers with the most films premiered this year (you only needed two to qualify) were: François Ozon with Frantz and L'amant double; Stephen Frears with Victoria & Abdul and the Quiz series; Hirokazu Kore-eda with After The Storm and Shoplifters; James Foley with the two Fifty Shades sequels; Pablo Larraín with Jackie and Ema; Luca Guadagnino with Call Me By Your Name and the We Are Who We Are series; Juan Antonio Bayona with A Monster Calls and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom; Christopher McQuarrie with Mission: Impossible - Fallout and Jack Reacher; James Marsh with King of Thieves and The Mercy; and Christopher Nolan just squeaked in with both Interstellar and Dunkirk premiered this year (albeit Interstellar has only appeared on the Sony Movies channel so far).
We also got two films based on Ian McEwan novels (On Chesil Beach and The Children Act), and two films written by Aaron Sorkin (one also directed by him) with Molly's Game and Steve Jobs.
Speaking of the Channel 5 TV movies again, whilst I have been rather down on the Christmas fortnight schedules there have been so many of these TV movies shown in the last two months that there will be more than enough recordings to be able to sift through over the holidays. The template of these films are pretty cookie cutter (due to all of the baking going on in them presumably), with the main character often being forced to have to return to their home town and whilst trying to remain a workaholic (that inevitably involves a final act phone call telling them they have to urgently come back to the big city between Christmas and New Year) they simultaneously also learn to be charmed again by life in general and fall in love with a special person in particular before they get backstabbed/get fired/get a promotion/decide that they prefer the smalltown life instead. But within those limitations there have been some fun variations such as the run of 'coincidence' films where the main characters just keep getting forced together by fate, to the 'hidden secret of the town's past getting revealed', a love of handmaking little trinkets out of wood (the male equivalent of the 'happy cookie making montage scene' that otherwise occurs. Sometimes you get both!) or characters getting trapped in cottages by deus ex machina blizzards. Pageants, school plays or general town gatherings occur to bring everyone together. And there is more often than not a message to the troops overseas to let them know we are thinking of them, usually in combination with a reconciliation of a soldier with his estranged family members.
Perhaps because of the sheer number of the films that Channel 5 have shown over the last couple of months they have also shown a couple of interestingly diverse offerings, from the disabled heroine of Christmas Ever After
(who unfortunately has the bad fortune to fall in love with an Ashton Kutcher lookalike) and the UK set A Very Yorkshire Christmas, to The Christmas Gift (in which a religious Kentucky family headed up by Bruce Davison as the father have to quickly learn all about Hanukkah when their daughter turns up with a new boyfriend) all the way up to the gay romance in the surprise change to this afternoon's schedule in order to screen The Christmas Setup
, which not only ends up with a big kiss at the end (captured on phone by Fran Drescher as the lead character's mom!) but also has a pop up Christmas themed club with a glamorous drag queen singing lounge songs, who coaxes the lead on stage to sing ("Do you know Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas?"; "Honey, every Queen in the world knows that song!") to soulfully sing at the beau that he potentially might be having to leave behind due to the big 'promotion to go to work in London' that he has been offered!
The Christmas Setup is only five days out from its US premiere and was apparently Lifetime's first LBTQ+ Christmas movie, so that reached UK television surprisingly quickly. Here's a fun review about it
that picks up on that aspect of how being pretty much by the numbers in all other aspects of its plot is perhaps its strongest aspect, making it fit right into the TV movie rotation as just another romantic Christmas movie!