christmas dinner turkey

Christmas is here, thanks to Back in Time For Christmas (BBC2, 9pm, 14 December). “You get presents, what’s not to like?” said the son of the family tasked with enjoying Christmas over the decades. “Christmas gets me stressed out,” fretted mum, who looked permanently on the verge of collapse.

Nothing’s changed then, just your typical family Christmas but set in the “austere” 1940s, a harsh decade brought into focus by the paltry sight of a week’s food rations. “Everyone from dukes to dustmen” got the same, according to co-presenter Giles Coren.

Officially, anyway. Where did you go when you needed more? A spiv on the corner with chipolatas down his trousers is where. War is hell.

Christmas Day arrived. Stockings were filed with fruit and nuts, like a wartime Graze box. Instead of the turkey there was a roast ox heart. Imagine what those poor people went through. And then an air raid siren went off. The family rushed to shelter from the bombing that took place on 29 December 1940, when a terrifying 100,000 bombs rained down on London.

The 1950s were much more cheerful, and filled with food and drink. Not all of it looked great. Spam, anchovy and olive canapés won’t grace many weddings in 2016. But the 1960s looked the best, including the revelation that the first artificial trees were invented by a US toilet brush company. And everyone had more money. The presents piled up, including real cigarettes for the parents and practice chocolate ones for the boy. And, finally, an actual turkey.