Catch up TV review: Christmas Bake Off 2020, Quentin Blake’s Clown, Meet the Richardsons at Christmas
Ivan Radford | On 28, Dec 2020
The Great Christmas Bake Off (All 4)
It wouldn’t be Christmas without a festive helping of The Great British Bake Off, and Channel 4’s first festive course doesn’t disappoint, bringing back some familiar faces from recent years gone by: student and part-time waiter Jamie Finn and semi-finalist and vet Rosie Brandreth-Poynter from 2019, plus Ruby Bhogal from 2018 and James Hillery from 2017. They’re an eclectic bunch with their own memorable tics and tastes in flavours, but a united self-deprecating sense of humour. The challenges, crucially, are a reliable bunch of seasonal staples, from panettones as the signature first round and homemade mincemeat in the middle technical challenge. The showstopper, meanwhile, is a feast for the eyes, including a cake that genuinely looks like a turkey. All of this is overseen by Paul Hollywood – in his most genial handshaking mood to date – and a blue-haired Prue Leith, while Matt Lucas is joined by Noel Fielding stand-in Tom Allen, who comfortably co-hosts with the charm and light touch of a lounge singer performing Let It Snow.
Quentin Blake’s Clown (All 4)
One of the essential items on the Christmas TV calendar is family animation, and BBC One has recently stolen the show with its long-running shorts based on Julia Donaldson’s picture books. Channel 4, though, has been stepping up its own animated game, with The Tiger Who Came to Tea and We’re Going on a Bear Hunt both proving delights in their own right. This year, Quentin Blake’s Clown is the star of the show, based on the kids’ author’s book of the same name. It follows a toy clown who is discarded “like an apple core” and finds himself on a harrowing journey until he eventually alights upon a safe new home. The visuals are faithful to Blake’s inimitable style, and the stratchy emotions captured simply and effectively don’t need words to explain the straightforward plot. While the original text is word-free, though, this short introduces narration from Helena Bonham Carter, whose gorgeous voiceover stops this being too avant-garde an affair. In a year when BBC One’s Zog sequel flies in the shadow of its predecessor, Clown brings a refreshingly different perspective to the screen, while still finding a universal truth in the heartfelt reminder that toys only come to life when children love them.
Meet the Richardsons at Christmas (UKTV Play)
It was back in March, just before the first coronavirus lockdown, that Dave dropped us into the lives of Jon Richardson and his wife, Lucy Beaumont. The result, somewhere between The Trip and Hoff the Record, was an amusingly spiky mockumentary that played into the couple’s marital tensions, which letting Jon send up his own neuroses. This Christmas two-parter is a welcome follow-up, which captures Jon in an entirely believable limbo between loving Christmas and being a total grinch: he wants to be asked to turn on the local Christmas lights, mainly so he can turn it down, then gets into rows about Boggle while wearing an endless string of festive jumpers. Beaumont really shines as they start to watch back her stint on a celebrity edition of University Challenge, and the duo are even funnier when they start recalling a stint on Jools Holland’s Hootenanny. Johnny Vegas is the celebrity guest this time and he turns out to be an ideal counterpart to Richardsons uptight presence, while the second instalment is proof that Jason Donovan’s name should be used as verb more often.