Tony Spittles’ pick of the TV viewing

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HOW was ‘Black Friday’ for you?

If you were in Mansfield it was also ‘Black Sky Friday’ as the blues clouds seem to have taken the day off to do some pre-Christmas shopping.

But in an ever-changing world that for many in days gone by was highlighted by the summer holidays giving way to Bonfire Night and then Christmas, there now seems, according to different cultures, faiths as well as changing patterns for shoppers and shops, many more festivals and occasions to observe and celebrate . . . and more often spend.

A random selection of part of the year, if you keep to the Gregorian Calendar, includes the Sikh’s Vaisakhi in April, Ramadan during June/July, Divali in the autumn, such American imports as Hallowe’en, Thanksgiving Day and now the retail-driven Black Friday (no doubt to get rid of stuff that’s been on the shelf for months) quickly followed by Cyber Monday.

Then there’s a just a few days’ break to draw breath before the 25 days of Advent mark time through December to herald the Nativity at Christmas, which, if you follow the earlier Julian Calendar, is celebrated on or around 7th January.

Whether this rich mix will be reflected over the festive season remains to be seen, but there’s no dispute there’s plenty to watch judging from the bulky TV listing magazines gearing for the weeks ahead.

However, before the TV feast gets underway it’s good to see that this year’s ‘The X Factor,’ which seems to have hung around longer than a winter cold, will, in part due to viewer fatigue, be taking an enforced rest next weekend after a two-night, grand finale.

Before then there’s plenty to look forward to, ranging from the penultimate episode of the crime thriller ‘The Missing’ (BBC1, next Tuesday) and seeing how the remaining candidates in ‘The Apprentice’ (BBC1, next Wednesday) cope with making a new range of premium desserts, a sugary-sweet test that vies in the 9pm time slot with ITV1’s fact-based drama ‘The Lost Honour of Christopher Jeffries’ telling the story of the Bristol landlord who was wrongly arrested for the murder of his tenant, Joanna Yeates, just after Christmas in 2010.

Drama of a different sort, both on and off the tracks, can be found in two contrasting series, starting tomorrow with Channel 5’s ‘The Railway: First Great Western’ as staff have to deal with record number of passengers, floods and repairs to the line at Dawlish in Devon that had been washed away by winter storms.

Washed up might be an apt description of the ageing rockers who plan to reunite to discuss a musical based on their songs in the spoof documentary ‘Brian Pern: A Life in Rock’ which moves from BBC4 to start a second series on BBC2 next Tuesday.

Yes, it looks familiar to ‘Spinal Tap,’ but for an added bonus there’s a veritable who’s who of TV favourites, including Michael Kitchen, Martin Freeman, Kathy Burke and Jack Whitehall up for some comedy capers.