TIM FAN­NING MY VIEW

Why watch­ing the TV is the best way to get wor­ried about your Christ­mas…

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - FOOD & DRINK -

If you were in any doubt that your Christ­mas was go­ing to be any­thing less than per­fect, then think again. Neven, Rachel and Kevin, Paul and Mary, even Nigella, are go­ing to whip you into shape. Af­ter all, what­ever else is wrong in the world, how­ever many ty­phoons, famines and wars con­tinue to af­flict the poor planet, Christ­mas must be per­fect. Do you un­der­stand? PER­FECT.

Lest there be any con­fu­sion, that doesn’t just mean the turkey is glazed and basted to within an inch of its long-dead life and your pud­ding looks like it could ap­pear on the lat­est Tesco ad, it means mak­ing sure that when you cook your din­ner, you are stress-free, all right? STRESS-FREE.

The pro­lif­er­a­tion of Christ­mas spe­cials that clog up the sched­ules is prob­a­bly a re­sponse to the fact that we no longer leaf through the tele­vi­sion list­ings check­ing off the times and dates of Willy Wonka And The Choco­late Fac­tory and The Great Es­cape. Multi- chan­nel TV, cheap DVDs and the in­ter­net have killed that par­tic­u­lar piece of Christ­mas magic. In­stead, we have celebrity chefs cooking great hunks of meat in the kind of festive jumpers worn by those loud drunken strangers ru­in­ing the at­mos­phere in your lo­cal pub.

Back in the old days, I imag­ine, we used to put our faith in Maura Laverty. Now, if there isn’t a twist on the tra­di­tional way of do­ing things, it won’t pass muster. The irony is that these shows pre­tend that they’re go­ing to make the task of cooking your Christ­mas din­ner eas­ier. Quite how they im­prove on fol­low­ing the in­struc­tions in the tried and tested cook­book your mother handed down to you is un­clear.

At least, there is some good news for all those heads of house­holds dread­ing the day when they’ll have to fire up the oven and pro­duce a piece of culi­nary per­fec­tion: they can con­sole them­selves with the thought that even do­mes­tic god­desses such as Nigella Law­son oc­ca­sion­ally feel the stress. In­stead of feel­ing in­ad­e­quate about your din­ner-party dis­as­ters, re­mem­ber that there’s more to Christ­mas than festive food. There are tips on TV about creat­ing the per­fect home, per­fect gifts, and most im­por­tantly, the per­fect drinks… This is it. Af­ter last night’s spec­tac­u­lar show from the Wem­b­ley Arena in Lon­don, the win­ner of the singing con­test will be an­nounced. While it has lost a bit of piz­zazz in re­cent years, the 2013 edi­tion has re­couped some of the magic, thanks in no small part to the re­turn of Sharon Osbourne (cen­tre with Ni­cole Scherzinger, Gary Bar­low and Louis Walsh) as one of the judges. And tonight’s starry line-up of guests – El­ton John, Katy Perry and One Di­rec­tion – proves that there’s plenty of life in the old dog yet. But which of the re­main­ing acts will walk away with a record­ing con­tract and a pos­si­ble Christ­mas num­ber one? Tune in to find out. Hon­orary Ir­ish­man Der­mot O’Leary will be host­ing pro­ceed­ings with his usual aplomb.

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