ARCHIVE TV ADVENT CALENDAR DAY TWENTY-ONE: 21 December 1988 (DOUBLE BILL!)

Quite the day. Firstly, over to BBC1 at 7pm for a special episode of the Beeb’s Shepherd’s Bush mainstay with Wogan: Terry in Pantoland. Hosted by, of course, Prince Terry.

This isn’t just a tacked on premise, either. I mean, just look at him up there. Preceding that grand entrance was a full on song-and-dance number, his introductory remarks are delivered in (of course) rhyming couplets, and his first guests are ‘ugly sisters’ Biggins, Hudd and Cribbins.

That’s followed by panto perennial Babs Windsor, and some comedy business between Little, Large and Wogan.

That’s followed by a musical guest Dana, and lamentably (because: 1980s) J** D*******, following by a guest billed as “a rather surprising Cinderella”, who I’m not going to reveal here (though in case you’re wondering, it’s not Kenny Everett).

Then at 9pm there’s one of BBC2’s big Christmas highlights: Alas Sage and Onion. For the uninitiated, that’s a festive retitle of peak-era Alas Smith & Jones. Guests Lindsay Duncan, Clive Mantle, Tony Slattery and Geoff McGivern come along for the sleigh ride, plus there’s a supergroup of writing talent behind it, including Clive Anderson, Hunter & Docherty, Robin Driscoll, Jamie Rix and Nick Wilson.

However, all the effort put into making Mel & Griff’s Christmas special was overshadowed by breaking news going into the episode. A breaking news story that caught news departments completely unaware, meaning the breaking news was first delivered to the nation via in-vision Ceefax: a Pan-Am jet containing 258 people crashed into Scottish village Lockerbie. As news operations between BBC and ITN clamoured to prepare live reports, it seemed there wasn’t sufficient time to pull the episode of Smith & Jones, meaning it went out in full.

A lot more information about the programme itself over on the excellent VHiSTORY site.

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