United KingdomFurther information: List of Christmas television episodes and specials in the United Kingdom
TV programming in the United Kingdom also includes an expanding holiday season. Perhaps aiming for the establishment of new Christmas institutions are the UK's seasonal specials, most notably with shows like Top of the Pops (from 1960s-present), Morecambe and Wise (popular in the 1970s), The Two Ronnies (1980s), Only Fools and Horses (1990s), and more recently, Doctor Who and Top Gear (2000s).
The animated tale The Snowman has been screened for many years during the Christmas period (usually Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, and a new story, Father Christmas, by the same artist and company, is usually broadcast around the same time.
Christmas Day begins at 12 at night with the showing of Midnight Mass on the BBC. In addition, HM Queen Elizabeth II annually broadcasts a 10-minute speech on Christmas Day at 3 p.m., charting her views of the past year and giving her own reflections and advice. Many long-running British soap operas have Christmas specials, usually involving a dramatic storyline developed over several weeks which culminates at Christmas. Often these stories are tragic, involving a death, divorce, a dramatic revelation or similar event.
Most Christmas specials in the UK are specially commissioned separately to a production season, and many are extended from the usual episode length (for example, the 2007 Doctor Who Christmas special was 71 minutes as opposed to the standard 45 minutes, was broadcast six months after the third series had finished and four months before the fourth series started). UK Christmas specials may or may not feature the holiday itself as part of the narrative.
While the season receives almost universal acknowledgement on British TV, some channels and programmes have tried "alternative" or "anti-Christmas" ideas. One notable example is Channel 4 which has run an Alternative Christmas message since 1993. In 2009, two movie channels renamed themselves for the season; Sky Movies Screen 2 became Sky Movies Christmas Channel and Movies 24 became Christmas 24. From 2010, changes to Sky Movies line-up meant that Sky Movies Showcase was used for Sky Movies Christmas Channel. On 16 November 2012, two music channels renamed themselves; Bliss became Blissmas and Greatest Hits TV was rebranded as Christmas Hits TV.
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“I suddenly realized that the devout Russian people no longer needed priests to pray them into heaven. On earth they were building a kingdom more bright than any heaven had to offer, and for which it was a glory to die.”
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