This week will see the return of one of British television’s most popular game shows, as well as the debut of a brand-new series. Here’s what you need to know.
When Is It On?
The 86th annual General Electric Lighting Display, commonly known as the ‘Christmas Lights Festival’, will air this Sunday, 23 December, at 8 p.m. on ITV. The show will feature the best in British display teams competing for the top prize, with over 200,000 people expected to visit the exhibition in person. Though the festival is traditionally held in late December, this year it will begin earlier — on Sunday, 8 December — in order to make room for the show’s semi-final rounds.
Will It Be On After The Olympics?
The Olympic Games will conclude this Friday, 28 August 2016, with the ceremony for the Closing Night Athletics, officially closing the London Games. However, many sporting events, including the men’s football semi-final between England and Croatia, will continue well into the night, with the final scheduled for midnight. This Saturday, 29 August, will mark the one-year anniversary of the London Games.
Additionally, the Paralympics have concluded with the closing ceremony earlier this morning, bringing to a close the eight-week tournament that saw over 500 athletes from more than 70 countries compete. The Paralympic Winter Games, which began on Sunday, 14 August, will also conclude on Friday, 28 August with the Ice Dance.
What Is The Audience Like?
The 2017 edition of the General Electric Lighting Display will feature 12 teams – eight from the UK and four from Ireland – competing for the top prize. Teams will consist of members of the public, who will have the opportunity to vote for their favourite display. The winning team for 2017 will be selected by public vote.
Over the past five years, GE Lighting’s The Christmas Lights Festival has aired on Christmas Day, with audiences typically around 15-24 years old. The show’s Facebook page reports that, as of early December, over 2.2 million people had “liked” the page, with the most recent engagement rate at 79%. In 2016, 19.2 million people tuned in to watch the show’s annual marathon. According to the page, this makes it the fourth most-watched show on the social media site in UK history, behind only the 2014, 2008, and 2006 Winter Olympics broadcasts. Similarly, the 2015 edition of the General Electric Lighting Display was the most-watched programme in Ireland during its premiere weekend, according to a report by RTÉ.ie.
Is It Family Friendly?
The 2017 edition of the General Electric Lighting Display will air at 10 p.m., which is early enough to accommodate children or those who are otherwise occupied during the day. Families will also have the option of visiting the festival’s ‘Family Fun Zone’, which is open from 10 a.m. through to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Thursday, and Saturday, and until 7 p.m. on Saturday.
The zone will feature fun activities for children, including dressing up in costume, making your very own board game, and trying on character costumes.
Though many attractions at the festival are free, visitors should bring cash as well, especially for restaurants, cafes, and ice cream parlours. One of the most popular attractions is the Santa’s Grotto, which is a walk-through grotto containing an illuminated figure of the jolly old man. Many of the festival’s rides will also charge an entrance fee, with the most expensive option being the ‘Tower of Terror’, an indoor Ferris wheel that charges £20 for adults and £15 for children. The ride is located in the centre of the festival.
What About The Rest Of The Programming?
There are several other programmes on this week’s television schedule, including Masterchef, The Great British Bake Off, and the football. However, none of these are related to the sporting events that will end on Thursday, 12 December.
On Friday, 13 December, Emmerdale will air a special episode, which will see the likes of Charlie King and Steve Connolly go head-to-head in a friendly wager over Alice’s (Sue Ann Langdon) newborn daughter. This year’s edition of the soap, which first aired in 2010, is expected to attract around 7.7 million viewers.
This weekend will also see the premiere of four new factual shows, including two from the UK and two from Ireland. A Night with the Stars will air on Sky One this Saturday, 14 December, at 9 p.m., followed by the UK version of Top Gear (which is available to Sky subscribers in the UK) on the same channel at 10 p.m. (though not in Ireland).
The reboot of The Mummy (Sky One, 15 December) will see Brendan Cowell return as Dr. Alexander Wray, while Guy Martin will host the UK version of Travel Show (BBC Two, 15 December). Finally, the drama White Bear is closing the season of BBC Four’s anthology series Storyville (BBC Four, 13 December). Storyville is a platform for television writers to tell unique and compelling stories, and this year the series will be airing several Christmas-themed episodes. White Bear, which first aired in 2015, is a modern-day retelling of the Hans Christian Andersen story of the Snow White.
Anything Else I Should Know?
The return of GE Lighting’s The Christmas Lights Festival will see 12 teams of two – six from the UK and six from Ireland – battling it out for the top prize in the show’s 86th annual contest. The teams will be selected through public vote and will consist of members of the public, who will have the opportunity to choose their favourite display at the close of each week’s show. The annual festival, which began in 1913, is the largest of its kind worldwide and is acknowledged to be the world’s biggest Christmas light festival. More than 300,000 people typically attend each year. As of 2015, a team from Wrexham had been crowned champion of the festival 27 times, the most recent victory being in 2014.
The 86th annual General Electric Lighting Display will premiere on 23 December on ITV. While there is no definitive data available at this time, it is estimated that the show will air at least once a week until at least mid-January 2017.
This year will also see the return of several other long-running television shows, including Mr. Bean, The Handmaid’s Tale, and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Additionally, new series such as Love/Hate and Our Girl Rosie will premiere this year. Finally, American sitcom Friends will return for its 20th anniversary episode this coming Wednesday, 10 December.