‘This the season for sitting in front of the tellybox… Here are my highlights of the last few day’s seasonal viewing…
Christmas Carols galore
As I tell everyone repeatedly, Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol is my favourite book and story, so every year I try to watch as many versions as I can. This year, there has been a bumper crop with Netflix’s new animated version, which included some exciting character designs (I loved Marley!) and a cracking ballad to boot. I also enjoyed the Will Farrell / Ryan Reynolds’ Spirited far more than I expected and watched a really creative vaudeville-style performance streamed by the Bristol Old Vic on YouTube.
However, the cream of the crop was Mark Gatiss’s stage version – Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story – recorded at Alexandra Palace last year. It perfectly captured the spirit of the original (pun intended) and left me with a lump in my throat at the end, which is always a sign of a good adaptation. And hats off to Mr. Gatiss for a brilliant performance of Jacob Marley, his movements curiously stirred as if underwater or caught by an unearthly breeze. Spellbinding.
Christmas is spooky season for me. Well, every season is spooky season in my book, but traditionally Christmas Eve was when we Brits swapped ghost stories. A few years ago, the BBC revived the Ghost Story for Christmas slot, adapting M.R. James’ classic chillers for a new generation. This year’s offering was Count Magnus, one of my favourite James stories, but was just pipped to the petrifying post by this year’s Inside No. 9 Christmas special, The Bones of St. Nicholas. Three unsuspecting souls go ‘champing’ on Christmas Eve… that’s camping in a chapel, in case you don’t know. According to legend, church in question is the resting place of Saint Nicholas’s long-long jaw bone, and a sacred place that may or may not be haunted by St. Nick’s wandering spirit.
The entire thing felt like a lost M.R. James in many ways and had a fantastic twist. I can see me revisiting this one over and over. One of their best episodes to date.
Oh, and while it’s not TV, a special mention must be made of Danny Robin’s Uncanny Christmas Special, which was a doozy this year and left listeners with an image (and a sound effect) straight out of a Conjuring movie. And the best Christmas present of all dropped at the end of the episode with the news that 2023 will see Uncanny TV specials! As a fan of The Battersea Poltergeist and the recent, utterly brilliant Witch Farm, I can’t wait!
My Christmasses aren’t all about chills…honest guv! I also enjoy feeling warm and cosy in midwinter and the All Creatures Great and Small Christmas spirit has become a favourite in our house. I love this show so much. It’s sentimental without becoming saccharine and always leaves you with a warm glow, as does The Repair Shop. I never watch the main series, but am a sucker for watching as Christmas heirlooms and ornaments are brought back to life. And yes, this year’s made me cry. Twice.
Okay, maybe it was three times.
So, what did you watch this festive season? Let me know in the comments below…