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Pinkerton->Maladroit->Blue Album->Green Album
I only came here to post this.
If you dont like the UK wyh not fuck of and live somwhere else?
I would guess that it's not a thing unique to UK shows. American shows tend to have them too, but as the UK does not have a TV season from September to May like they do in the states, they stand out more.
(This is if we're talking things like sitcoms/soaps etc, more 'serious' dramas generally just don't have them at all.)
Also, I would guess, as it is for some reason a tradition in this country, that a lot of shows do it for an easy ratings boost.
so there's a battle for ratings, so every channel chucks out an hour long version of their big hitters, and tie it in to christmas because a) it's christmas b) easy to advertise c) easy to write
stuff like sitcoms that already have sets built, are already into a couple of seasons, etc. is awfully cheap just to knock off a sentimental christmas special