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An image from the taping of "This is Justin Bieber" on TLC (TLC)
An image from the taping of "This is Justin Bieber" on TLC (TLC)

Andrew Ryan: Television

Bieber marketing machine targets Europe Add to ...

All I want for Christmas is Justin Bieber’s air miles.

The most famous person ever to come from Stratford, Ont., (see what happens when you retire, Lloyd Robertson?) is a very busy boy this week, making TV appearances of varying magnitude.

Tonight, we have the British import program This Is Justin Bieber (TLC, 9 p.m.), which the 17-year-old pop phenomenon filmed during a recent whirlwind visit to London.

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Tomorrow, he’s jingling his bells for MuchMusic Presents Justin Bieber: Home for the Holidays (Thursday, MuchMusic at 6 p.m.; CTV at 7:30 p.m.), which tapes before a live audience in Toronto later this afternoon (Bieber fans have bedtimes, you realize).

And then, straight on to Los Angeles where the Biebs is booked to perform on tomorrow night’s live season finale of The X Factor (Thursday, Fox, CTV, 8 p.m.). When will he ever find the time to shop for Selena’s Christmas present?

Mind you, the truly vigilant Bieber devotee may have already seen the first special, since some helpful fans have downloaded the program in bits and pieces, probably moments after it aired in Britain two weeks ago. With more than 15 million people following him on Twitter, it was bound to happen.

The airing of This Is Justin Bieber is being treated as a major coup by TLC, which a few days ago announced the securing of U.S. rights to the program with only slightly less fanfare than might accompany the reconciliation of Jon and Kate Gosselin.

The curious thing about This Is Justin Bieber, at least for viewers on this side of the pond, is the special’s glaring exposition. In part, the program appears designed to introduce the elfin singer to a brand-new market. Clearly, the English are slightly behind North America in Biebermania.

Hence, the program is constructed around an “exclusive” interview, conducted by the fawning British TV presenter Reggie Yates. Again, we hear the Horatio Algeresque story of poor wee Justin humbly street-busking before being plucked from anonymity by a record producer who saw his YouTube video. By this point, even Bieber seems weary of telling it.

Beyond that, This Is Justin Bieber follows the pop star being mobbed by fans during a breakneck tour of old London town, along with his brief collaboration with British rapper Tinie Tempah and clips from his appearance on The X Factor U.K. Naturally, there’s room for a few acoustic performances from his brand-new holiday album.

Which should be the game plan on Home for the Holidays tomorrow night. The program is being taped at Toronto’s Massey Hall (watch tonight’s newscast for footage of thousands of manic female fans outside the venue), which leaves roughly 24 hours between the performance and the broadcast. Expect a best-of-Bieber concert, and little else.

The more important Bieber performance – to a much bigger audience – will come on tomorrow’s X Factor finale.

The Fox edition of the popular British series is wrapping its first and not particularly highly rated season on American television. Creator/executive producer/judge Simon Cowell knows he needs to end his talent show with a bang, as they say in showbiz circles.

His solution: Justin Bieber, whom Cowell announced as a performer on the finale, along with rapper Pitbull and R&B singer Ne-Yo, only two days ago. Nobody would argue Bieber isn’t the biggest name on the bill.

And barring any unforeseen circumstances, Bieber will deliver – and bump up the ratings. Although he’s expected to record his X Factor spot shortly before the live broadcast, watch his performance and judge for yourself if he doesn’t raise his game, much as he did on last year’s Grammy show. Every smart Canadian knows when to crank up the heat.

Check local listings.

John Doyle will return.

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