I’ve always liked Easter, it’s a pleasantly unpressurised mini-holiday. It’s not like Christmas, it doesn’t need months of planning or yards of wrapping paper. There’s no enforced confinement with people you don’t really care for, you don’t have to eat food you don’t like, you don’t have to play charades or Trivial Pursuit, and usually the sun shines warmly.
Even if you’re not religious, it’s still OK to feel a sense of hope and renewal, of good things just around the corner. You can have a turkey dinner on Easter Sunday, with Christmas pud. And if you want to eat your own body weight in over-packaged chocolate eggs before lying prone on your sofa wearing a blanket of greed-induced self-loathing, then that’s fine too.
For most of us, and we are very lucky, Easter is four days off work. If we are even luckier, it’s a nice family time, when we’re all together ready to sit and watch some good telly.
Which is where things start to go awry. Easter television isn’t distinctive and it should be, it’s such a missed opportunity. It’s not that there’s a shortage of good television, but there’s little to mark out Easter weekend as being special and different from any other weekend. Doctor Who starts on Saturday BBC1, but Doctor Who could start in any week. ITV is showing a feature-length Maigret on Easter Sunday, but a man is shot in the head in an opening scene.
As for Easter Monday… the final episode of Broadchurch is the centrepiece of the night’s television and is undoubtedly hugely and quite rightly anticipated, it’s been brilliant. But it’s the end of an eight-week story, and it’s about the unmasking of a rapist.
There’s not much hope and joy there, is there? Not much light and cheer. Not much for everyone to sit down and enjoy. Where’s the family viewing? A new David Walliams adaptation, maybe? Or some more Just William stories. Or something that doesn’t feature rape and/or murder.
I wonder if schedulers imagine we’re like families in the adverts, running along beaches, laughing, or eating mid-price lamb dinners on patios now that the garden furniture is out of the garage, or taking the kids out on Easter egg hunts at National Trust properties (please note my use of the words “Easter” and “egg”. I don’t want to be accused of airbrushing a religious festival).
Maybe schedulers think we go to museums and (gulp) art galleries. I’m hopeless, I don’t understand art gallery etiquette. Exactly how long am I supposed to stand in front of a painting before I move on to the next one? What am I supposed to be looking for? And where’s the gift shop? Is it OK to wait in the café eating carrot cake while everyone else pretends to be transported to realms of celestial delight by a big picture?
I’m sure Easter telly was a bit special when I was growing up. At the very least The Great Escape was on on Easter Monday (it’s on Sky Cinema Select this year, not on one of the main terrestrial channels).
Easter is still a big family time where we do things together. My little lot will indeed be on a beach, though on the North Sea coast, so I’ll be wearing the woolly hat I put away just after Christmas. We won’t last more than half an hour, and we’ll have to hot-foot to the chippy to warm up. And then it would be really lovely to go home with an appointment to view a nice bit of telly…
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