I remember when it was first aired at Christmas time in 2007, when I wasn't sure I wanted to see it. I was attracted to it because of the cast, but I also remember a bit of negativity towards it, including Radio Times dismissing it as clichéd I believe.
If my memory is correct, I will say this. Those who say Christmas at the Riviera is clichéd are in a way correct. The characters and story lines hardly break any new ground, though when it comes to the characters some are more so than others.
However, being clichéd is not necessarily a bad thing, I think it depends on how the programme/film and characters are written. If they are written not very well, that is something to criticise, if they are then not so much, again that's just my opinion. The characters in terms of how they're developed are a mixed bag, Miles, Diane and Maurice are developed quite nicely, but there are others like Reece Shearsmith's character that suffer from being under developed or a story that isn't as interesting as the rest.
That said, Christmas at the Riviera is beautifully filmed, with skilled photography and striking location work. The pace is fine as well, it is neither too fast or too slow, considering how many characters and stories there are that's an achievement. The script has strong moments where it is funny and poignant, and out of the stories Miles/Diane's, Maurice/Rita's and Tim/Dennis's, the latter being the most touching, are the best realised. The cast do very well, Alexander Armstrong, Anna Chancellor and Warren Clarke are particularly excellent, and Pam Ferris is quite good as well with the reveal of her secret having some surprising pathos to it.
All in all, perhaps not must-see television, but I found it surprisingly good. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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