Christmas television is a recipe for clinical depression with its potent cocktail of forced bonhomie and filmed-in-August insincerity.
Year after year my tolerance levels rapidly vanish as the goggle box becomes a dumping ground for all manner of rubbish, interspersed by those stomach-churning DFS adverts that make me want to gouge my eyes out with a rusty spoon.
But worry not Ebenezer, for unashamedly blokey channel ITV4 looks to be an oasis of festive escapism this Yuletide, with the only Saint making an appearance being of the Simon Templar variety, and not the the portly white-bearded chap who pops down your chimney.
With two daily helpings of The Saint, ITV4 are certainly getting their money’s worth from the sixties spy thriller – rivalling Top Gear and Friends for the title of most repeated programme on the box – so there’s every chance you’ll stumble across it while channel surfing over the Christmas period.
You are probably beginning to wonder what this has to do with motorsport. Well, my inquisitive – if slightly impatient – reader, there was once an episode of The Saint that used motor racing as a plot, and it, er, truly lost the plot as well.
Set during the British round of a fictional women’s F1 championship, The Fast Women sees Templar – quizzical of eyebrow as always – come to the rescue of Cynthia Quillen, a lady who is keen to eradicate those pesky race weekend distractions. No, not appeasing sponsors and the media, but sabotage and assassination attempts.
Prime suspect in all this is her bitter on track rival Teressa Moesino, played by a young Kate O’Mara, who pouts and smoulders on screen and does lovely things to my eyes. Whether she’s actually involved in such criminal activity I cannot possibly divulge.
But the plot is largely inconsequential, because, to the programme’s credit, the racing sequences they’ve pilfered from the 1964 British Grand Prix are surprisingly good.
Yes, the rear projection shots are laughable, but if you can (somehow) cast those aside, you’ll see the likes of John Surtees, Richi Ginther and Jack Brabham and fighting with Jim Clark and Graham Hill for the lead round a prehistoric looking Brands Hatch.
So, make yourself comfy and indulge in a bit of retro racing fever, for some kind hearted sole has plonked all the best bits from said episode on YouTube.
Oh, and merry Christmas to you and yours.