It may seem a far cry from celebrating Midnight Mass or singing carols but families who gather to watch the EastEnders Christmas special can have an experience just as meaningful, according to the Bishop of Leeds.
The Right Rev Nick Baines said that small gestures like this could bring the family together. He went on to compare the shared companionship of relatives watching television together with biblical accounts of the shepherds travelling to see the baby Jesus.
Writing in the Christmas edition of Radio Times, hesaid that in an age when people lived glued to their mobile phones and tablet devices, the simple act of a family sitting in the same room and all watching the same television show could help to restore relationships.
“It isn’t all that long ago that the prophets of media doom were confidently predicting the demise of television as a medium for common conversation — that is, for example, a family sitting together and watching the same programme at the same time and in the same place,” he wrote.
“In a world where anyone under 40 has to be surgically removed from their mobile or tablet, the screen on the wall or in the corner still has the power to get people to sit together and watch together.”
He said that the shared experience of watching a television programme with others would always beat private browsing.
“For all those lucky enough to have someone to share the remote with this Christmas — put down your mobile, switch off your tablet and live in the moment. You may be surprised by what you can do,” he said.
“In a world of instant news, multiplatform viewing, privatised experience and customised catch-up, let’s hear it for the telly at Christmas: there’s life in the old screen yet.”