CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night's TV
CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night’s TV: Santa, shepherds and sherry – all Christmas clichés great and small
All Creatures Great And Small: Christmas Special
Goes Wrong Show: The Nativity
There’s Christmas, and then there’s Christmas in Skeldale, the Yorkshire idyll that is home to vet James Herriot and the squabbling Farnon brothers.
The festive special of All Creatures Great And Small (C5) turned the Christmas dial up to maximum and shovelled on bucketloads of schmaltz. They should have called this It Shouldn’t Happen To Santa.
Siegfried (Sam West) was handing out presents, dressed as Father Christmas — though in green, not red, because the old curmudgeon claimed St Nicholas never wore scarlet robes until Coca-Cola’s marketing people got hold of him.
Farmer’s daughter Helen Alderson (Rachel Shenton) was at the altar for a Christmas wedding — quite a tradition in the pre-war era when days off work came but once a year.
There’s Christmas, and then there’s Christmas in Skeldale, the Yorkshire idyll that is home to vet James Herriot (pictured) and the squabbling Farnon brothers
Village children dressed as shepherds were acting out nativity scenes on every corner, and sherry flowed like ale as the vets’ practice was thrown open to all for the Christmas Eve party. Even the animal emergencies were bundled up in tinsel — a sheepdog gave birth to pups under a Christmas tree and Bob the donkey felt poorly after eating all the mistletoe.
‘Merry bloody Christmas!’ Siegfried toasted us all at the end, and you couldn’t blame the fellow for feeling worn out by it all. He spent much of the episode trying to find the courage to kiss his sweetheart, Dorothy (Maimie McCoy).
Why he took any notice of her in the first place is hard to know, because it’s obvious he and Mrs Hall (Anna Madeley) are meant to be together. They’re like an old married couple. ‘I had no real choice in offering you the housekeeper’s job,’ he told her grumpily.
‘What, no one else could put up with you?’ she retorted.
Everything was exploding or bursting into flames in the deliriously funny Goes Wrong Show: The Nativity (BBC1)
James (Nicholas Ralph) traipsed around looking as miserable and lonely as a forgotten bauble at the bottom of the decorations box. He’s been in love with Helen from the day they met . . . and she hasn’t stopped thinking about him since she caught him skinny-dipping under a fellside waterfall.
She was supposed to be marrying landowner Hugh, to please her dad. Oddly, we didn’t see the moment she jilted him at the church — we were too busy following James as he motored around the Dales in that open-top Rover Tourer.
Candid chat of the night
Candid chat of the night: Hugh Grant was on form in Being Bridget Jones (BBC2).
He described his character in the movie as, ‘what my mother’s generation called ‘Not safe in taxis’,’ while Renee Zellweger’s English accent was ‘Princess Margaret after a stroke’. I say!
It was probably freezing, but worth braving the cold for those views. The show ended with everyone gathered around the wireless, listening to George VI battling his stammer for the 1937 Christmas message. At which point, the Festivometer blew a valve and disappeared in a cloud of smoke.
Everything was exploding or bursting into flames in the deliriously funny Goes Wrong Show: The Nativity (BBC1). The piano burned, a stage hand was crushed by scenery, King Herod’s clothes flew off and a fight broke out between two ends of a pantomime donkey.
Catastrophic Christmas specials from the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society have become a tradition. They’ve done Peter Pan, Scrooge, panto and more, so this New Testament retelling was overdue . . . rather like Mary (Charlie Russell) with a bowling ball up her dress.
The look Mary gave the camera, as she proclaimed herself a Virgin, was a wicked joy. It’s surprising how much blasphemy is now deemed acceptable before the watershed — not that it isn’t snortingly funny to see the Angel Gabriel scream ‘Jesus Christ!’ and fall off a ladder.
Still, the laughs came so fast that no one could protest. When Gabriel’s tinsel topknot fell off, he squawked: ‘Halo! Halo!”Is it me you’re looking for?’ chorused the shepherds.
Source: Read Full Article