TV UK, 23 December

What's Really in Your Christmas Dinner: bingeing on food snobbery.

Dolan Cummings

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Channel 4’s What’s Really in Your Christmas Dinner (Monday night, repeated on More 4 on Christmas Eve) was a classic example of the Grinch approach to Christmas. Sun columnist and screeching harridan Jane Moore lectured us on the horrors of turkey and all the fixings: unhealthy, toxic even, cruel to animals (shocking) and perhaps worst of all, cheap. This was really a Christmas binge on the snobbish moralising that drives Supermarket Secrets for the rest of the year. Fortunately, Jamie Oliver is too busy flogging Christmas treats for Sainsbury’s to join in.

This seems as good a forum as any to complain that shopping at my local Sainsbury’s is like visiting a supermarket in the former Soviet Union. There are no great dilemmas over what to have for dinner when there’s bugger all on the shelves. Admittedly a choice between smoked mackerel and pork chops is a step up from stale cabbage or beetroot, but I see precious little evidence of the burgeoning consumer society overflowing with excessive and sickening choice. Luckily for me, the troll who lives on the sofa has gone to Iceland for Christmas canapés, like that woman in the adverts, who, for those who were wondering, used to be in the pop group Atomic Kitten, and then was on I’m Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here or some such.

While Iceland offers good honest canapés at bargain prices for proles and trolls, M&S is trying to sell us a classier Christmas. Not just any Christmas, but an expensive, sexily enunciated Christmas, dripping with stylish decadence. I’m reminded of my comments this time last year on the bizarre twilight world of perfume adverts. In fact, I’m considering a PhD on contemporary representations of masculinity in these ads, especially the ones that appeal to the inner rebel who wants to tear off his suit, get a tattoo and, goodness knows, probably drink beer from the bottle. Your fragrance, your rules.

Which reminds me, there needs to be a chapter comparing Mark and Jez from Channel 4 sitcom Peep Show with Jack and Sawyer from Lost. The former, I feel, are the bathetic, British answer to the latter. In each case, a regular, square guy is paired with a more laid back, rebellious one, but while Jack and Sawyer could both sell aftershave in twilight world, Mark and Jez are more likely to be the hapless boyfriends getting these aspirational fragrances for Christmas from dissatisfied girlfriends… OK, I’m not really considering doing a PhD at all. The idea is yours if you want it; call it a Christmas present.

My original idea for this column was to do ‘What’s Really on Your Christmas Television’, anatomising the various toxic and nutritionally valueless ingredients that make up traditional Christmas fare. But that would have been wrong. Christmas is what you make it after all, and that includes television as well as dinner. If things get really bad, you can always turn to A Bach Christmas on Radio 3. Or put on a DVD if you prefer. But whatever you do, enjoy the Iceland canapés.

Read on:

spiked-issue: TV

Worth more than a Peep, by Neil Davenport

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