Christmas With The Sitcom Carnival

In the world of sitcom, two festive programmes were the centrepiece of British television’s offerings during the late 1950s to the early 1970s. Christmas Night with the Stars for the BBC and All Star Comedy Carnival on ITV, these shows were the cornerstone of the Christmas Day schedules, featuring mini episodes of the nation’s favourite series, both old and new, writes Rob Williams

In the first ever Christmas Night with the Stars in 1958, we meet James Edwards M.A. – Headmaster of Chiselbury Public School, Edwards has a liking for drinking and gambling, possesses a devious personality to get the children’s pocket money to use for funding various ideas and has a liking for using the cane on unruly pupils. Jimmy Edwards stars in the Frank Muir and Denis Norden penned Whack-O!

During this mini-episode, however, Mr Edwards is more charitable to three boys who come to his study to wish him a merry Christmas rather than receive a whacking from his cane.

Mr Edwards is presented with two similar shaped presents, one from the pupils at the school represented by three boys and another from teacher Oliver Pettigrew. One being a small prank bomb made in their chemistry lesson; from Pettigrew and his wife, a bottle of home-made parsnip wine.

But when the Headmaster goes to his own room to open the pupils present and it explodes, Edwards thinks parsnip wine has a fiery kick to it and re-enters his own study looking somewhat surprised and dishevelled.

Steptoe and Son had quickly become popular with viewers, with Albert and Harold Steptoe from their Oil Drum Lane base in Shepherd’s Bush, London. Originally starting off as an edition Comedy Playhouse called The Offer – created by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson who had previously written Hancock’s Half Hour for Tony Hancock – the series centered around the fractious relationship between the pair of them trapped with each other.

In the 1962 Christmas Night with the Stars sketch, Harold is bored by Christmas at home with Albert, with thoughts of spending the evening together with a lady friend, Marcia, who phones with an invite to her raucous party. Rather leaving Albert on his own, he says he can come to the party with him, but Albert’s idea is to have a quiet Christmas in.

Harold’s plans are spoiled when he receives another phone call from Neville, another of Marcia’s male friends who says that him and Marcia are now engaged. Meaning that Harold’s evening of a lively Christmas has been ruined totally and it’s another evening spent in with Albert.

Come 1964, we have the Marriage Lines special with Richard Briers as George Starling and Prunella Scales as Kate Starling. Their life is thrown up in the air with a baby on the way but with the exchanging of gifts between George and Kate, it brings awkwardness for the both of them as George purchased a maternity dress for the mother to be and also not buying anything for the baby.

Seeming the baby is more important than him George’s nose is put out of joint by Kate reminding him about the baby, causing them to have an argument. George and Kate’s Christmas night plans plans are thrown up in the air when he phones his friend Dennis to see about the night’s festivities with Dennis and his wife at their house, though those plans are derailed by their baby being taken ill. In apologizing to Kate, he suggests that they go and babysit for Dennis and his wife’s other children to so that they can take their baby to the hospital reminding George how fragile newborns can be.

Another sitcom launched in 1964, The Likely Lads, sees the lads themselves at Terry Collier’s house on Christmas Eve evening following the traditional lunchtime drinking session with both him and Bob Ferris feeling a bit worse for wear from that.

Recalling Christmases of the past, when they both used to receive the Rupert the Bear annual, they try to remember if was Edward Trunk or Edward the Elephant that appeared in the books. They form a wager between them, with Terry misremembering that it was Edward Trunk; in all of this, they lose track of time and – as Terry’s sister tells them when she enters the room – the pub closed ten minutes ago. With that, Bob and Terry continue to play the wager.

Also appearing in that 1964 edition was Meet the Wife starring Thora Hird and Freddie Frinton, from Ronald Chesney and Ronald Wolfe. Frinton and Hird play Freddie and Thora, a married couple in middle age with two grown up children, one of which is married. Frinton plays a gambling and drinking plumber with Hird, his wife, retaining ideas of social climbing.

Their Christmas Night with the Stars appearance has Freddie and Thora waiting for their daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren to arrive for Christmas lunch. As little things seem to be going wrong, they receive a phone call from their daughter Shirley, telling Thora and Freddie that they cannot come to dinner as one of their Grandchildren, Michael has caught the mumps.

But not wanting the cooked dinner to go to waste, Thora has the idea of driving the twenty-five miles to their daughter’s and son-in-law’s house to see them and the children as well. Even though they are not advised to as they might catch mumps off Michael, they decide to take the risk and go visit them with the turkey wrapped in towels in a baby’s carry cot and Freddie deciding to bring the Christmas tree as well.

Freddie realises something, that it was not the mumps he had as a child but the measles instead. Thora says that a thing like having the mumps shouldn’t ruin everyone’s Christmas.

Meanwhile in Hugh and I, Terry Scott and Hugh Lloyd are washing up after having Christmas dinner while their dinner guests are watching the television. But to stop their fun, Terry decides start the after dinner party so Hugh suggests a word association game. They are soon exasperated by the way the game is going, the players not understanding how the game works and one person giving the same answer. As the game continues, the local vicar come to visit to give seasonal greetings to some of his parishioners.

As Terry and the vicar enter the lounge and Terry introduces two of the guests, Cecil, an elderly gentleman and his wife. Cecil thinks the word vicar that Terry says to him is part of the game and blurts out the word ‘Basket!’ in the vicar’s face much to his shock.

Christmas 1969 was significant both for BBC 1 and for the main ITV regions as they were celebrating their first colour Christmas and with ITV about to launch a rival to match the BBC festive offering.

All Star Comedy Carnival would provide a home for ITV’s sitcoms along with slices of their light entertainment output, giving the chance to the new Independent Television franchises such as London Weekend, Thames Television and Yorkshire to be able to showcase special editions of their sitcoms.

Back on the BBC, the 1969 Dad’s Army special itself sees the platoon rehearsing for the local town pageant, while raising funds for the war effort.

The pageant piece they are putting on is about the British resisting the aggressors in several battles and is seen as a fundraising opportunity and a piece of propaganda in moral warfare by Mainwaring. The rehearsal starts as everyone goes through their speeches.

All the characters play up to their character types, including Private Godfrey as Julius Caesar. When Godfrey is cued for his speech, he is in the toilet, as indicated with a flushing sound. Private Frazer portrays William the Conqueror, reminding that its not all about the English who battled these invaders to Captain Mainwaring and Private Pike dressed a matador to play King Phillip II of Spain. But to bring them back to why they are all together in the first place, the air-raid siren goes off and they have no time to change back into their uniforms.

Warden Hodges enters the hall with another warden as they have captured a German pilot and takes him to Captain Mainwaring and the Home Guard to deal with. But Hodges gets a shock to see the platoon dressed as historical figures. The German pilot makes the same speech that the others have been making as part of the rehearsal that England will be crushed, but Corporal Jones as The Spirit of Agriculture deals with the pilot in his own way using his hay fork to jab the airman saying, “They don’t like it up them!”

Whereas the editions of All Star Comedy Carnival from 1969 to 1971 have been wiped from the archives, one piece has survived; the mini-episode of the Jack Rosenthal-authored The Dustbinmen from Granada Television.

It’s Christmas Eve and the crew of the dustbin lorry affectionately known as Thunderbird 3 are in the pub after their shift, noting their Christmas tips from the customers on their round.

The tips from the people on the round are sadly lacking this year amounting to just four pounds in pre-decimal money and that has been spent by Eric to buy all the housewives on the round a gift each.

All looking lost, looking for somewhat of a Christmas miracle, they all decide that they would much rather be working on Christmas Day, though a miracle of sorts does arrive in the shape of four pints of beer brought by a young couple to celebrate the birth of their baby on Christmas Day itself, Cheese and Egg stops them from drinking it thinking this a sign from somewhere.

In the spirit of Christmas they decide to go to the church in their smart suits so they go the Christmas Morning service where they refused to take the Vicar’s rubbish away. But the Vicar thinks they are there to finally take the rubbish away, getting what they wanted by working on Christmas Day. Cheese and Egg says that no-one should say ‘Merry Christmas’ otherwise they will tip the three bins over the head over who says it.

Eric mishears what has just been said accidentally says ‘Merry Christmas’, so the other pour the stinking contents of the other dustbins over his head.

1972 was the last year for Christmas Night with the Stars and All Star Comedy Carnival to appear together on the same night; the Comedy Carnival was introduced by Jimmy Tarbuck and for the BBC, Christmas Night with the Stars was presented for the second year in a row by Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett from behind their Two Ronnies news desk.

In The Liver Birds, Sandra and Beryl are in their flat on Boxing Day; reflecting on what Christmas means and spending the day with their families and how much they love them.

But with plans to go a party, they tidy up after their presents have been opened. There is a shout outside the front door and it’s Beryl’s mother who has come around after an accident involving her father, so she has decided to invite herself and Beryl’s family round to tea uninvited.

Sandra’s mother turns up, because the puppy that Sandra has got for her has run away with the turkey and eaten it. So Sandra’s mother has the same idea of coming around to Beryl’s and Sandra’s.

As the two mothers chat away, Beryl tries to get a word in edgeways between them and says that her and Sandra are going to a party. When neither mother notices, the girls sneak into the kitchen and Beryl says to Sandra “You know about saying that you wanted to let your family know how much you love them, let’s wait till next year!”

Dad’s Army have other matters on their mind with the platoon having been picked to appear on BBC Radio in a lunchtime Christmas Day broadcast linking troops with their families all around the world.

In the main hall, all the men are gather to wait for their part of the broadcast, with the engineer at the controls, a single microphone in the middle of the room and a giant speaker so the radio producer can communicate with the Warmington-on-Sea Home Guard from his base in London.

Mainwaring is pleased as punch his men have been chosen for this broadcast and their piece will be broadcast live just before King George VI gives his annual speech to the nation.

A series of voice tests is required, so Corporal Jones, takes it upon himself to do it and blows a raspberry into the microphone, hitting it with his script as well.

Sergeant Wilson does the voice test and quotes a nursery rhyme, leading to the radio producer saying saying that the Sergeant has a voice for radio much to Captain Mainwaring’s annoyance.

Eventually the platoon have to do sound effects for the broadcast too as the engineer explains to the producer that the van containing the sound effects men and the sounds effects has broken down and they will not be able to make it in time for the broadcast.

But there is a last minute hitch, as the engineer says his transmission light hasn’t come on. Hodges enters the hall singing and Mainwaring tells him to be quiet. The London studio explains that owing to an overrun by another set of troops’ message that the producer had to drop the Home Guard’s broadcast and that they could not keep the King waiting at all to make his speech.

Annoyed by this, Captain Mainwaring wants to say something to the London studio and listen to it very carefully. Mainwaring then blows a raspberry into the microphone and hits it with his script and the rest of the platoon join in and do the same as well leading to the engineer and the producer having earache from all the noise created.

Meanwhile on ITV, All Star Comedy Carnival could promise specials from Doctor in Charge, On the Buses and The Fenn Street Gang from London Weekend, Father, Dear Father and Love Thy Neighbour from Thames Television. Also with Nearest and Dearest from Granada.

Love Thy Neighbour finds Barbi putting up the Christmas decorations and mistletoe in particular as Bill remarks that he doesn’t need mistletoe to kiss her, but she says that other people might.

Then there is a knock on the door and it’s Eddie Booth wondering if Bill was around so he can take him out for a drink as its Christmas with peace on earth. Though as Eddie notices Barbi under the mistletoe, he grabs her and goes to give her a kiss. Bill re-enters the room and shocked to see Eddie kissing his wife.

Eddie’s wife enters and wonders what is going on. Barbi explains that Eddie was just kissing her under the mistletoe and Eddie’s wife says it is a tradition for people to kiss under the mistletoe. But as Eddie reaffirms this by saying, “You can kiss anyone under the mistletoe!” Though not noticing that his wife and Bill are standing right underneath it. So Bill gives Eddie’s wife a passionate kiss, Eddie rushes over to stop it but his wife pushes him away.

Eddie and Bill arrive at the pub – still bickering, now about the race of Father Christmas – where their drinking companions are, one of which has a turkey for Eddie.

After several drinks, the four men stagger back to their homes, causing commotion in the street in the early hours, but have forgotten Eddie’s turkey which is still in the pub. The other men run away leaving Eddie to wish his wife a drunken merry Christmas, but she is not having any of it as it’s 1 O’clock in the morning and she’s been woken up by rowdy rabble. As she slams the window shut, a whole load of snow come down from the roof and covers Eddie all over.

The next morning, Eddie is clearing the front path of snow and Eddie’s wife says that Christmas dinner is nearly ready and it consists of roast potatoes, stuffing and cranberry sauce. Eddie asks if there is a main course, but his wife says there either a choice of pilchards or baked beans and goes back in the house still annoyed at Eddie for losing the turkey.

Bill comes out of his house and wishes Eddie a merry Christmas and Eddie says “It might be for you, but not for me!”

Bill feels guilty about what has happened, so him and Barbi are inviting Eddie and his wife over Christmas dinner as they have enough for everyone. Eddie and his wife go into Bill’s front room where there are loads of guests much to Eddie Booth’s surprise and Bill dressed as Father Christmas wishing him a Merry Christmas.

In Nearest and Dearest, Nellie and Eli Pledge along with Lily and Walter are playing a game of snakes and ladders which Walter gave to Nellie and Eli so many years ago when they all first met as children and Nellie has found again.

As Nellie remembers those events of all those years ago, she says, “That it fills me with Neuralgia!” with her use of malapropisms when talking say one word when she means completely another.

The sketch recalls one Christmas Day when Eli and Nellie are children; much like they are as adults, they bicker constantly with each other. Then Nellie asks Eli what did he get for the festive season, he says a roller-skate and he’s getting the other one for next Christmas. Nellie herself got a watch without a little hand on it so she can’t tell the time by it.

Lily introduces Nellie and Eli to her new friend Walter, saying that she got him for Christmas. Walter has bought a game of snakes and ladder for them all to play. With that Nellie snatches the game off him pushing him away in the process.

With that they start playing the game with Eli saying that they should put down a penny each, so who ever wins takes all the pennies. As the game goes on, it comes to the end and Eli needs to throw a three on the dice to win. He says he throws a three and that he’s won. But Nellie says he threw a two instead which takes him on to the big snakes and back he has to go back to the bottom of the board.

When we jump back to 1972 with Nellie that it was childish to end the game in that way all those years ago. Eli says that’s he won the game again, so Nellie says if he’s won that he should get a prize for winning again and then proceeds to pick up a cream cake off the table and splats it in Eli’s face for cheating.

In Father Dear, Father, the Glovers are spending a family Christmas together, as daughters Karen and Anna are putting up the decorations using drawing pins though they have dropped one of them. As their father Patrick comes into the lounge to wish them a Happy Christmas, he finds the other drawing pin by treading on it in his sock covered feet.

Karen and Anna give their father their presents, with him thinking looks like bottles of drink but it turns out to be a pair of exercise clubs instead.

Meanwhile in the kitchen the dog H.G.’s Christmas lunch is being prepared by Nanny. H.G. is being walked on the heath by Anna’s husband Tim, but H.G. has run away thus all of them go try find Patrick’s beloved pet.

In Patrick’s rush to go find H.G., he gets out of his car and walks briskly along by a boating lake but accidentally steps on a child’s roller-skate. The roller-skate rolls him into the lake soaking him from top to toe.

Back at the Glover’s house, H.G, arrives back, scratching at the front door as Nanny opens the door. A worried. soaked Patrick gets a brandy to warm him up. Suggesting to call the police to try and find H.G. Though when he phone the police station, that they are rather merry themselves even encouraging Patrick to sing a carol down the phone.

Just as Patrick goes out to search for his pet, he realises that H.G. is back, that not even the fact that H.G. has chewed up the slippers that Nanny was going to give as a present matters now to him.

In On The Buses, the crew working at the Luxton and District bus depot have got other things on their mind.

Jack Harper is working but is drunk, necking from a bottle of whiskey which one of the passengers has.

The passenger whose whiskey it is gets off the bus, grabs it from Blakey who has taken it off Jack. Saying that he’ll report Blakey for taking his bottle, though the Inspector comes up with a punishment for Jack that he has to search the bus for lost property and anything he finds he had to hand it in.

Olive and Mrs Butler are on the bus much to the Inspector’s horror especially as they pull silly faces on the bus behind the windows. With Olive thrusting herself on Blakey saying that she feels so awful and ill from getting drunk.

Jack goes on the bus with his driver – played by Larry Martyn – to see what lost property there is. As he looks he find a moving bag, so he has a look inside and cannot believe his luck what he has found to be able to hand this over to the Inspector as per his wishes.

Jack goes in Blakey’s office with the driver and the bag as well. As the Inspector notes it down, Jack wants him to look in the bag to see what’s inside it, in case Blakey accuses them of nicking anything. When he puts his hand in the bag, whatever is in there bites the Inspector’s hand.

It is a live goose which is sat on the Inspector’s hat which Blakey has removed and is now laying eggs in there. Though the goose has escaped into the bus depot. The inspector won’t let Jack and the driver go home until they have found the errant goose. Though Jack and the driver talk about how do they know the goose is a girl or a boy.

Then Blakey put his hat on again cracking the eggs in there leading to egg and shell running down his head when he take the hat off much to Jack and the driver’s amusement.

As Olive and her mum go off to walk home. Olive notices the runaway goose in front of her.

Blakey, Jack and the driver start to search high and low to find the bird itself with when the Inspector looks underneath a bus and the engine is started firing a plume of exhaust soot in his face.

Jack grabs the inspector having seen the goose where he is. Then as Jack, the Inspector and the driver run off to catch the the goose, they collide into Olive and her mother as they are carrying their shopping bags with an open bag of flour meaning they are covered head to foot by it. As Blakey grabs Olive’s and her mum’s turkey thinking now its the goose, now dead.

As Jack, the inspector and the driver go back into the office. The goose is sat in Blakey’s chair, but as Jack has the idea of taking the goose and killing it so Mrs Butler and Olive have a goose rather then a turkey for Christmas Day. But the goose has other ideas, by it chasing everyone into a corner afraid of it.

The Fenn Street Gang, which was the pupils of the original 5C from Please Sir had been spun off into their own series. So when Christmas Day comes around for them, its natural for all of the to be together and what better way then sharing Christmas dinner together. Peter Craven is holding the festivities at his own place, though Sharon and Maureen have cooked the lunch.

But just as the others have finished their dinner, Frankie Abbott on the other hand is still hungry. Much to the Gang’s chagrin that Frankie can’t still be full up after a substantial meal.

As the rest clear away the meal, plus also the tables and chairs. Frankie tries to steal a kiss from Maureen as he has got a sprig of mistletoe. Though as Maureen says about him, that has more of his dinner around his mouth then it it. So she gives him a friendly kiss, much to the others taking the rise out of the pair of them when they arrive back in the room.

But all Frankie wants to do is play a party game, leading to short shrift from the others, suggesting him to play with his toys that his mother has brought him. When Frankie makes loads of noise while doing so, Eric gives and says that they play a game and that it should be hide and seek plus Frankie should be the one to hide.

Overexcited, Frankie goes off to hide, leaving the others in peace. Then after a very short while Eric says to Dennis and Maureen to go and look for Frankie. But when they go, they cannot find him. Leading to Peter saying that the front door is the only way in and out to his flat and they are ten floors up from the ground.

Dennis say they even looked in the small cupboard underneath the sink, but Peter says that’s not a cupboard but the rubbish shoot and it takes to where all the waste from the whole block of flats is stored. As he explains this, it suddenly dawns on him what has exactly happened to Frankie in that case and says that Frankie Abbott can’t be that stupid to have done such a thing. But as Eric puts it “You wanna bet?”

Leading to the doorbell going and stood there head to foot covered in rubbish is Frankie looking gormless at what he has done and the others are totally bewildered at this sight they now see in front of them.

1973 saw a different approach on both the BBC and ITV. Whereas now the BBC were starting to do long form specials of their sitcoms and the format Christmas Night with the Stars had finished, Independent Television decided to plough on with All Star Comedy Carnival.

The Doctor in Charge special sees Duncan Waring in front of the social club bar and Dick Stuart-Clark behind it serving Waring. As Waring exchanges his gift with Stuart-Clark, Dick asks Duncan what’s he doing for Christmas Day. He explains that he’s staying at St Swithin’s as his parents are away and there nothing else really going on.

Each of the other medics arrive in the bar and explain their plans for Christmas, such as Lawrence planning to spend it with his wife, Paul Collier’s plans involve some Christmas fun with a young Danish woman and a motel.

Thinking that its just going to be Duncan, himself and Dick at the hospital for Christmas Day. Stuart-Clark reveals that he’s spending his with friends in the country with friends doing a traditional Christmas with plenty of food, drink and good company. Much to Duncan’s annoyance that no-one is going to be at the hospital with him and Dick is closing the bar so he can’t get served another drink at all.

Dick meets up with Professor Geoffrey Loftus in the corridor and says that Duncan is staying in the hospital itself over Christmas and he’s a bit down about it, asking if Loftus could he have a word with Waring. But as Loftus explains, he needs someone to cover him on his ward round as he is planning to have some friends around to have a party with his wife and himself.

As Waring is wandering lonely around the corridor, the only person who is still there apart from the other nurses and patients on the ward is George, one of the hospital’s porters, who has an idea when Duncan says that he’s spending his Christmas Day at the hospital. That George and his wife are having some friends around for some drinks and would Waring like to look after the porter’s station while he does that as a gesture of goodwill to George.

Seemingly resigned to his fate, Duncan says why not as he’s got nothing else on at all. Thinking that George has got a present for him, George hands him the porter’s keys. Now he’s the temporary porter. Waring dons George’s peaked hat.

But on hearing that Dick Stuart-Clark, Paul Collier and Lawrence are coming along the corridor, Duncan pulls the peak of the hat over his eyes so that they don’t recognise him at all. Thinking that its George they each give him some money to wish him a merry Christmas. Seeing that he now has five pounds notes, he says thanks to someone on high even wishing them a happy birthday as well for this gift. The Professor Loftus comes along and does the same, but Loftus presents Duncan with a ten pound note much to Waring’s joy.

The biggest sitcom of 1973 had to be Man About the House, introducing the public to Chrissy, Jo and Robin along with George and Mildred Roper.

Mr and Mrs Roper are waiting for the trio to come down for some drinks and nibbles, when Chrissy, Joy and Robin arrive. Chrissy mockingly says that they have been waiting for this all day.

Mildred orders George to get some drinks for their guests; not wanting to waste good scotch, Mr Roper pours only little into each glass for everyone. Mrs Roper says that is only a small amount; George fools everyone by turning around appearing that he’s re-poured the drinks again without Mildred noticing at all.

But to entertain them George says he’ll perform a card trick, though that doesn’t go well when Chrissy guesses the card he said he would guess himself. Robin then says can he have a tinkle on the Ropers piano. This encourages George go to through his repertoire of songs sung badly accompanied by Robin. The rest of them are bored senseless, so Chrissy, Jo and Robin take leave of their absence and leave the Ropers to it, so that they can sneak off to the party next door. But George and Mildred have the same idea and once the trio have gone out the front door they follow them to the party.

Next, we see the undertaker’s Shadrack and Duxbury in Billy Liar, where Billy Fisher is hanging up Christmas decorations in the funeral parlour and having dressed a memorial shrub from the local graveyard in baubles and with a sugar plum fairy. Then Billy’s girlfriend Miss Sissons comes in wondering where he is. She is followed by Billy’s mother, father and grandmother who have come in for some pre Christmas drinks and snacks; Billy’s father says that grandmother will only have a cup of water, as alcohol makes her become lively.

Mr Shadcrack suggests some music to get the festivities started, as he starts the pop-up reel to reel tape machine and it starts playing the funeral march, with him saying to Billy’s grandmother that they put away many an old folk to that tune, Billy bringing his nan a cup of what the other think is full of just water. But it evidentially clear when she takes a drink from it that it is not water but embalming fluid, she starts to dance.

To save embarrassment, her son moves her to the chapel of rest to lie down and sleep it off. But Mr Shadrack is wondering where his twenty-five guests are as they late, then the mystery is solved by Billy’s mother finding twenty-five un-posted invitations to Mr Shadrack’s cheese and wine party.

Billy run into the chapel where his grandmother is and locks the door behind. Though his grandmother has now escaped from there and is now crawling along behind the undertaker’s front window; Billy comes back into the main part of the funeral parlour through an open window as the others are now in the chapel of rest. With Billy grabbing his coat and escaping through the front door with the rest of his family, his girlfriend and Mr Shadrack in the front window as he imagines them as angels of rest.

My Good Woman from ATV sees Leslie Crowther and Sylvia Sims as a married couple, Clive and Sylvia Gibons. With plans to go to a fancy dress party, Sims is dressed as Little Miss Muffet and Crowther is dressed as the spider.

It seems that Leslie has had a bet of a five pound note going to charity, with one of his friends, that himself and Sylvia and can beat them with their fancy dress outfit. Though apparently their friends are going as Long John Silver and his parrot respectively, which means that Long John will have to stand on one leg for the whole duration of the party and balance his wife on his shoulder as well.

To improve their whole Miss Muffet act, Sylvia suggests that they act out the nursery rhyme but altering the words to say gherkins and cheese instead of curds and whey. Though when Leslie tries to sit next to Sylvia, he finds out that he can’t because of the tights which his wearing with the costume are too tight and causing him all sort of problems. So once again they have to alter the words, that the spider has to stand up besides Little Miss Muffet.

A better idea that they decide to do is sing a calypso of Little Miss Muffet accompanied by Leslie Crowther playing the piano. Then Bob and his wife Monica call round to see Clive and Sylvia, saying that another couple are going as the same as them. But Bob and Monica have same idea as Clive and Sylvia, dressed as the spider and Little Miss Muffet as well.

Spring and Autumn sees Jimmy Jewell playing Tommy Butler, a widower who strikes up a friendship with a 12 year old boy called Charlie Harris, who is unwanted by his family despite the reservations of their respective families.

For their special, Tommy is in Church praying when from the pulpit Charlie whistles to draw Tommy’s attention. But as Tommy explains that you’re not meant to whistle in church and that God can hear everything. As Charlie says that he prayed every day for his father to come back, but those prayers were not answered at all. Plus he doesn’t believe in miracles, though as Tommy explains that you don’t have to look to far so see miracles in the church itself.

Before he points out the nativity scene, saying that Charlie is a miracle and unique himself and that Christmas is a miracle too. Though Charlie doesn’t believe that it isn’t a proper miracle. As he looks at the nativity scene, he says isn’t odd that Jesus was born on Christmas Day and Tommy explains because of that we get Christmas because of that.

Charlie starts to play about with one of the shepherds in the nativity before Tommy tells him not to do that. But as Charlie puts the Shepard back, the figurine’s head drops off. But Tommy says that had done it by moving it about and takes him to the vicar to tell him what Charlie has done.

Though as Tommy and Charlie leave, Charlie says he has forgotten something and goes back in there. Wondering why he is taking his time, Tommy goes back in there to find Charlie praying for his father to come back, apologising for breaking the Shepard’s model head and most importantly for Arsenal to win that year’s FA Cup.

Christmas Night with the Stars and All Star Comedy Carnival became a cornerstone of the Christmas television schedules for both the BBC and ITV. But thanks to modern technology some of these shows have been preserved for future generations so we can get to see them and glimpse at some more rarer specials involving some television’s most popular sitcom characters.

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