It’s New Years Day and I’m feeling charitable so this blog is brought to you in a whisper, with a cold flannel (for your forehead) and a bacon sandwich (for your mouth… if you need instructions on how to eat a sandwich, maybe don’t get out of bed yet). Read my round-up of the best Christmas telly and figure out what you want to watch on catch-up to keep the festive feelings flowing, and I’ll pop to the shops for paracetamol. Alright?
A classic tale of mismatched neighbours Andrew (Stephen Merchant, playing exactly the sort of person he always does) and Dev (Asim Chaudhry) from Bedford on a 9 hour mission to save Christmas and buy the must-have toy (Sparklehoof the Unicorn Princess) for Andrew’s daughter. Dev is the lonely chubby one, separated from his family at Christmas, and Andrew is the awkward angry intellectual, successful but bad tempered with a family who loves him for some unseen qualities. Dev teaches Andrew to be a happier man and a better father, and despite themselves they’ll be best buddies for life. Basically it’s Planes, Trains and Automobiles or Jingle All The Way for the small screen. It looks lovely with cosy camera angles suited to our suburban action heros. There’s great pacing throughout with real tension and subversive moments of mischief. Neither lead performance is all that over-the-top and their situation, while silly, seems entirely probable. An unexpected gem.
Back in 2013 the Beeb had a go at capturing the Scandi noir spirit with a drama set slightly closer to home than the usual Sweden/ Denmark heartland. When I say slightly, I mean only very slightly because this dark drama is set in Shetland. They might speak the language and you can fly to Glasgow in 90 minutes, but the place has much more in common with Scandinavia than Scotland. Famously the islands didn’t become part of Scotland until the 15th century and that remoteness lingers in the traditions and the outlook of the people.
Sir Terry Wogan is living the good life, and he knows it. He’s worked his way up the tv and radio schedules to the lofty status of national treasure and jolly decent chap. He’s the sort of presenter it’s absolutely categorically impossible to dislike, with his warm tones, his charming manner and his often repeated jokes. He’s perfect for happy little interviews with the general public and asking tradesmen and restauranteurs “What is it that you do?”. Over the years he’s perfected his jovial, warm, interested style. He’s happy for you to know he’s on easy street and in this series he doesn’t even have to worry about the driving. Mason McQueen (sadly not called June) is a London cabbie and adventurer, thanks to A Cabbie Abroad which was shown on BBC2 last year. He’s not afraid to leave the confines of the M25 and, like Terry, seems genuinely interested in meeting people and learning about their trade.