Hmm, chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your toes, Steve McQueen bouncing a baseball against his prison door. All signs of the UK Christmas in the early eighties. Again why exactly The Great Escape became linked directly with Christmas is difficult to say. It is a relatively family friendly film (ie grandad likes it too), but as an enterprise is actually rather doom-laden. But perhaps as an example of cultural understanding and citizens of the world linking together (except the Nazi’s o’course) it may have suggested some sort of peace and goodwill to all men message. Even if it does take place during the war and half the characters die.

Suddenly in the nineties they stopped showing it a Christmas. A new batch of TV execs came along and saw how hackneyed their scheduling was. They did the same with The Wizard Of Oz. Suddenly the two linchpin of Christmas television had been uprooted. We lost our way, what with Noel’s Christmas Presents and Batman on Christmas Day.

And then, a couple of years ago, in their I Luv The 2003’s sort of way, the execs changed again and they started showing The Great Escape again. Even if the reason is that the TV companies now see Christmas as a dumping ground, it was a welcome return – even if it was irony led.
(Checking this years schedules it appears to be missing, but Five are showing the Wizard Of Oz – phew).