Sunday Express

At last, a reason to bear with this show

- By David Stephenson

FINALLY, the armoured bear has arrived. Much cheering! Oh yes, and he didn’t disappoint. He was a polar bear, he sounded like a polar bear and he was quite cross.who wouldn’t be? He’d had to wait almost four hours into His Dark Materials (BBC1, Sunday) to make an appearance. Contact your agent, Iorek. I know, “Iorek” is apparently widely used as a name for disgruntle­d polar bears across the tundra.alas Iorek, it sounded ridiculous.

But really this was a moment to savour: this giant mechanical monster, out of sorts because he had lost his outfit of armour, looking for revenge. He bounded across the quayside – a disused set from Sky’s Fortitude – shouting, “I want to see my contract!”we could have used the soothing, reassuring tones of Sir David Attenborou­gh but let’s not quibble.this is what we get for our £6million an hour.

Not only did we have a bear with a sore head but the man who created Hamilton: the musical, writer and actor Lin-manuel Miranda, was arriving too. I don’t know what he was doing there either but this was chequebook drama at its finest. He was discreetly asking of the local deadbeats: “Where could I get the services of an armoured bear?”

With his passable Indiana Jones drawl, he provoked a bar-room brawl.yes! This drama really was making an effort to entertain us last week.

Bodies and reputation­s were thrown all about the place. One fellow was even tossed over another’s shoulder, a traditiona­l Greenland greeting.

Before we could take a breath, yet another bear was found in a cave, wearing a much more elaborate piece of headgear than the first one and using the voice of David

Suchet.what? But why bother searching for meaning? It only spoils a bear, Suchet – it really was him – was absolutely splendid, and my favourite character immediatel­y. Mind you, most characters are utterly charmless in this show. Maybe, it’s their annoying daemons.

Young Lyra is still there, along with her personal Hagrid, James Cosmo’s Farder Coram, who will continue to fight evil. Well, we’re assuming they’re the good guys. Or is it the chap from the Magisteriu­m who keeps passing through what appears to be a nasty vortex into a modern-day traffic jam in Oxford? Could this actually be a thinly veiled climate-change allegory? Oxford did start off as being underwater.the good people of Fishlake – if they can see a TV yet – will sympathise. While nothing is perfect in drama, His Dark Materials may yet have found some red meat to


The BBC has made a tremendous discovery, rather late in the piece, that couples have babies, and often concurrent­ly. So please welcome The Baby Has Landed (BBC2, Monday), soon to be rebranded as “Colic Live”. The highlight? One couple, exhausted veterans of four children already, solved a crossword during labour. Breakthrou­gh? Is the message, a baby is for life not just for a TV show.

Note to BBC: please can the Christmas special be set in a manger with three “wise” TV execs cooing away. get its teeth least enough to keep the local bear population happy.

Soap actress Jacqueline Jossa entered the “crevice of cruelty” otherwise known as

(ITV, Sunday). But she needn’t have worried. She was sharing the dungeon with someone who can scream even louder – Ianwright.

He’s such a brave boy. Jossa has become the series “patsy”, the celebrity we love to vote for because she’s so honest with her feelings. Because of that we can expect a good return from our free vote on the I’m A Celebrity app.ant and Dec are funnier than ever – or have a new scriptwrit­er. They were on top form sniggering on the sidelines as Jossa andwright failed to communicat­e but managed to get 11 stars in a “reality” miracle.

Jossa is making a name for herself which she should be pleased about. I’m a Celebrity has made a star of lesser lights. Elsewhere, rugby’s James Haskell is still the size of a small semi despite eating next to nothing. Is he slowly chewing his way through the rainforest canopy? I loved his line about not bothering to vote, “There’s so much admin.” He’s so time-poor.

But the show I have been waiting for since this time last year has finally arrived, Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas (C4, Monday). Now, I have the greatest respect for crafters but it is steadily eroding year on year.this show has been going since 2014... that’s a lot of gilt.

The biggest bauble was the lady who created the Bob Marley Christmas tree decoration. T-shirts, mugs, album, pipes

(no doubt) but a bauble? Oh, yes. It was a Caribbean take on the festive season. Bob’s head was made of felt which, I grant you, sounds just right for a reggae man.

We also had our first “corble” – as one crafter described it – which will delight the Labour Party. Little else does.this was actually a tree topper that was in danger of falling into a heap without much help.

But if you were hungry, there was “edible stained glass”. I think churches have a difficult time preserving their lead roofing without making stained glass a target too. But the tour de force was a Brussels sprout doll made from oven-baked clay. My early gift to you.

 ?? ?? GRUMPY: Iorek with young Lyra (Dafne Keen)
GRUMPY: Iorek with young Lyra (Dafne Keen)
 ?? ?? HEAD START: A Handmade Christmas with Bob Marley
HEAD START: A Handmade Christmas with Bob Marley
 ?? ??

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