Did we like it?
Jonathan Ross is like a bright morning sun that overwhelms you with the joys of life, no matter what other misery is afflicting you. Which was lucky, as much of the rest of the show was the TV version of pencil sharpenings from a pencil soaked in the liquid talent of Andi Peters (couldn’t we celebrate Christmas with mass crucifixions just once?)
What was good about it?
• The Johnny 7 toy gun (“Seven guns in one!” screamed the grainy advert from 1968), that gave endless pleasure to Jonathan and guests Jools Holland and Ricky Gervais.
• Jimmy Savile’s dancing on an old edition on Top of the Pops. How old is that man? Even during the 60s, his skin was so wrinkled with ravines and crevasses they could have filmed Deliverance on it by splashing his face with some frothy aftershave.
• Yes, the NORAD joke about the US Airforce tracking Santa Claus’s sleigh as he flew into American airspace to deliver presents to children was silly, and we haven’t forgiven the US Airforce for using perfectly alive Iraqi civilians as unwilling guinea pigs for their new missiles and aircraft, but it was still quite well executed.
• It’s an odd coincidence that the probable numbers one and two in the Christmas chart will both be sung by Shanes. One is the plastic afterbirth of a vile freak show in which three idiots get very rich, the other, who sang here, is a toothless Irishmen, and by reputation as much a stranger to sobriety as Louis Walsh is to dignity. Or integrity. Or decency. Or altruism. Or passion. Or vivacity. Or veracity. Or sincerity.
• Jonathan’s banter with Ricky Gervais was funny, as usual, but there is a certain stale predictability about the charade. We know they discuss the general shape of the chat before they go on, but the pair have become so set in their ways, it’s like watching two men trapped in a spiral of eternal deja-vu. Jonathan will poke fun at Ricky’s weight and birthplace (“you grew up in Reading. Do they have a wickerman at Christmas?”), while Ricky will retort with mock derision at Jonathan’s crudity, which here was John Noakes talking about a “muff”.
What was bad about it?
• Slade’s Merry Christmas Everybody. It’s often mooted that in the event of a nuclear holocaust, nothing will survive except cockroaches that will scratch around the irradiated ruins for sustenance. But this has been a fallacy since 1973. Each Christmas, even though dates will no longer have any relevance, somewhere, somehow Noddy Holder screeching “It’s Chriiiiiiiiiiiiiiissssssssssssssstmasssssssss” will echo around the wasteland. But mercifully, we’d be dead and so wouldn’t have to suffer it.
• Jonathan Ross: “Doing my research for this show…” Everyone knows that “research” is the lowest job in television and researchers are like Victorian orphans pushed into prostitution, or those lorries that collect the dog shit from the parks and on hot summer’s days can poison whole villages with their noxious stench. Jonathan, we’d be shocked if you did any research.
• The digitised log fire in the background.
• The utter futility of trying to distil the joys of Christmas into three meaningless charts (“voted for by viewers on line”), which made Fairytale In New York the greatest ever festive song, It’s A Wonderful Life greatest film and Morecambe and Wise best comedy. While all three have their merits, does it really solve anything? Do people who voted for them feel their lives are validated and smugly sit back smoke a cigar, as conceited idiots habitually do?
• Barbara Windsor being introduced as “the undisputed queen of Albert Square”. Does such a title really have any purpose? Or, as we speak, is Pauline Fowler, perhaps aided by Minty and Dot Branning are meeting in shadowy cavernous tumble dryers plotting a coup to install a tyranny of senseless gossip and deluded masculinity to usurp her?
• Katie Melua is far too nice to trade caustic insults with Shane McGowan. The appeal of Kirsty McColl’s vocals were not in the pitch, but that you knew she was an old hand in trading insults with drunken Irishmen, and there was as much weariness as waspishness in her scorn. But with Melua it was rather like watching the Queen audition for the role of Fagin in Oliver Twist.