Guide to Christmas telly

So, you’ve picked the last scraps off the turkey, the Christmas compilation CD has been discarded for another year, and your sorry excuse for a tree is once more thrown onto the compost heap. But do not despair: Cherwell can help you keep that festive feeling by giving you the low-down on the Christmas telly. What better way to ease yourself into the New Year than catching up with the programmes you missed because you fell asleep at 6pm after the ninth glass of mulled wine?

I can’t claim to be a massive fan of Dr. Who. In fact, I had never watched an episode until last week and I had no idea what was going on most of the time. A far as I can gather, a weird and hungry bloke called The Master wanted to turn everyone on earth, and some time lords, into versions of himself. The Doctor didn’t think this was a great idea, so chased him around for a while and eventually, with the help of an old man and some green spiky people, managed to track him down. We all knew this was Tennant’s last episode, and it was actually quite moving as sci-fi goes. Apparently the tears during his regeneration were real. My brother enjoyed it though, and I will defer to his knowledge in this (one) area.

The ladies of Cranford returned to our screens this year for more p

olite conversation, village gossip and pre-watershed romance. The book on which the series is based is arguably not Gaskell’s finest work, lacking North and South‘s passion and any sort of smouldering love interest. But still, it’s one to watch with the parents; it will certainly make you smile, and Judi Dench is eminently watchable as the sweet Miss Matty. If, however, you are yearning for a costume-drama heartthrob: stick to the Pride and Prejudice box set.

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Day of the Triffids is scary. That is all I have to say on the matter. The majority of the population is blinded, and then the man-eating plants are let loose. Obviously one of the few people left with his sight just happens to be a Triffid specialist, and it is his job to find a solution to the plants-taking-over-the-world problem. Fortunately there is also a love interest in the shape of Joely Richardson, and a nasty baddie, played by the excellent Eddie Izzard. Completely unbelievable, painfully predictable in parts, but definitely worth watching.

The season’s comedic offerings deserve particular mention; with Christmas specials galore, we were dished up a veritable selection box of mirth. One not to miss was the Christmas episode of Outnumbered. Hugh Dennis and Claire Skinner are always superb, but the kids in this series are incredible. In this episode Dennis is tasked with preparing the dinner, while Skinner goes to collect her dad from the care home where he lives. Highlights include Karen’s biting critique of everything from goat-based charity presents – “so, it’s not a present for me: it’s a present for the sub-Saharans” – to A Christmas Carol – “would we let Hitler off if he bought everyone a goose?”. Ben’s melting plastic dinosaur and the increasingly bizarre game of charades are classic moments, mainly because we can all remember something quite similar happening at home. Pure comedy genius.

The two-part

Gavin and Stacey special is unmissable, mainly because it signifies the timely yet peaceful death of one of our favourite sitcoms of recent times. In the first episode, the Shipmans and the Wests head to the beach, where Smithy gets stuck in his rubber ring, Dave departs to find some gas and Doris is predictably pervy. In the second, and final, episode Nessa prepares for her nuptials with Dave of Dave’s Coaches. Look out for guest appearances from John Prescott and Noel from Hear’say. The writing by Ruth Jones and James Corden is as charming and quick as ever, and Rob Brydon is excellent as the lovely, oblivious, Uncle Bryn. Go and buy the box sets.

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If staying in with your stale mince pies and the dwindling box of celebrations is not exciting enough, perhaps you fancy a trip to the cinema? Nativity, starring the lovely Martin Freeman, was this year’s family-friendly festive release. Freeman is a primary school teacher directing the dreaded Christmas Nativity, with his loveable but clueless teaching assistant Mr. Poppy on hand to help with/ruin everything. This is, however, a nativity with a difference: not only do the residents of Coventry think that Hollywood will be coming to watch, but Freeman has to convince his ex-girlfriend to save the day. Oh, and the nativity is a musical. Cue cute kids auditioning, heart-warming sing-alongs and decreasing believability. In one baffling scene, a mother watches her child (playing the angel Gabriel) being lowered from the cathedral’s spire, screams, and then cheerfully joins in with the singing. Hey, it’s Christmas, who cares if these things don’t really happen?