Barry Norman is Away
As every schoolchild knows, it was Birmingham that gave the world Christmas. This year, in a move to recognise that inalienable fact, and to say Thank You to the city of Birmingham for this annual feast of gluttony, tat-buying and enforced jollity, TV schedulers in the UK have joined together and themed their Christmas movie selection around the city that started it all. Here is the Paradise Circus round-up of the best films that Christmas TV 2013 has to offer:
Following the appearance earlier this year of stylised Brummie gangster series, Peaky Blinders, anyone jonesing for the savage violation of a UK regional accent would be well advised to tune in for Dick Van Dyke’s performance in Mary Poppins (BBC1 4:15pm Mon 30 Dec). Whilst the Scouse/Manc/Notts variation on the Brummie twang in the BBC1 series was maddening, Van Dyke’s ‘Cockernee’ is on an another level entirely. In a sensationalist storyline that could have been lifted from the pages of The Evening Mail, this Christmas classic tells the story of an unsuspecting middle class family who mistakenly hire a witch to mind their children. With musical consequences.
Along with starting gangs and setting up illegal betting shops in terraced houses, another Brummie rite of passage is to ride the 11 bus for a complete circuit. However, I often find myself wondering how many people have really done that. Likewise, It’s A Wonderful Life (Channel 4 1:10pm Christmas Eve) is the Christmas movie that perennially appears near the top of favourite Christmas movies, but how many have seen it? (Incidentally, I’ve ridden the 11 all the way round AND I’ve seen ‘..Wonderful Life’). Anyway, recent events in British society have given this 1946 film a fresh resonance, with its evil, money-grabbing banker pitted against the unshakable spirit of togetherness and community that…oh. Anyway, it has an evil banker.
Talking of unstoppable commerce, if you’ve ever seen a couple drunkenly arguing after one too many glueweins at the ever-growing German Christmas market, the story of Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in Nazi-occupied Casablanca (Channel 5 2:35pm Christmas Day) is almost certainly for you. This is another film that everyone recognises as a classic but have probably never seen, and I’m going shoehorn in a quote from the film (“Of all the novelty hat stalls in all the world”) to disguise the fact that I haven’t seen it.
Fans of Birmingham’s Winterval debacle of a few years ago will no doubt appreciate Alastair Sim’s turn as Mike Whitby in Scrooge (TCM Various inc 5:00am Wed 18 Dec), whilst scary childhood experiences in Rackhams can be re-lived with Billy Bob Thornton’s Bad Santa (Sky Movies Comedy Various inc 11:50am Sat 14 Dec). Also on the shopping tip is Jingle All The Way (Sky Movies Christmas Various inc 12:20pm Sat 14 Dec), which is about as funny as a visit to the Bull Ring on a Saturday before Christmas, and in which Arnold Schwarzenegger completely loses his shit trying to find a present for his son. He should do what I do: Sink three pints in The Wellington and then buy everything in a 45 minute frenzy.
Of course, if none of the above Brummie-themed TV movies tickle your Lickey End, and if you’re feeling really, really, masochistic, you could always peel your arse of the sofa, head to the cinema, and fork out £10 to sit through The Hobbit, the latest 900-hour-long adaptation of local boy Tolkein’s fantasy bollocks.
Bah humbug, bab.
Photo CC: philip evans