ARCHIVE TV ADVENT CALENDAR DAY TWENTY: 20 December 1983

10.55 Perry Como’s French-Canadian Christmas Special

A muscial celebration of the festive season with guests Debby Boone Canadian folk singer Diane Tel(?) Olympic ice-skating champion Dorothy Hamill, soft-rock pianist André Gagnon and the V'la L'Bon Vent ’groupe

Yes. It can only be Perry Como’s French-Canadian Christmas Special (BBC1). Purely on the basis of that title. I mean, come on. It sounds like a joke from The Simpsons.

TITLE CARD: This time with the Montreal Canadiens playing some ice hockey.

And for anyone without a sense of what television was like on the other side of the Atlantic at the time, this could easily be a very subtle, very clever parody of schmaltzy network TV of the era. Right from a brief introduction by – of course – star of Fantasy Island Ricardo Montalban, who appears to explain that instead of the regularly scheduled episode from the mysterious Mr Roarke and company, we’re instead getting a very special and very festive Como-tastic treat (this at least for viewers of the original ABC broadcast in 1981 – that year it also aired on BBC1, but on Boxing Day, outside the Official Rulebook of Advent Calendars – this repeat broadcast is from a couple of years later). Then it’s onto shots of trees, horse-drawn carts, and the man himself leading a group of children to a magically French-Canadian festive treat, along with a variety of top Canadian performers of the time, plus the “alumni of the Montreal Canadiens hockey team”.

All brought to you by Canon. Because nothing says Christmas quite like photocopiers.

BONUS EXTRA VIDEO:

Couldn’t find any background info on this one, but it’s worth sharing anyway (not least as it’s a piece of archive telly that isn’t going to be cropping up anywhere else)

From 20 December 1976: An episode of lightly hauntological* kids programme A Handful of Songs (Granada).

(*Might just be me, but the whole aesthetic perfectly fits the Quentin Smirhes vibe. I keep expecting the QTV clock to appear.)

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