On the plus side, the worst came first. Huge Furry Wittering-balls was even more unbearably smug than usual as he snorted and snaffled his way through Christmas at River Cottage (8pm, C4, 14 December). I was hoping for a few tips on how to cook a meal I could serve to family and friends. No such luck. Instead Huge shot himself a deer (as you do) before taking his kids and their pals fishing (as you do). Apparently Christmas is "a cracking time for dads and kids to go on a fishing trip" (and perhaps it is if you live in the weird Famous Five-esque parallel universe Huge does).
Sadly, he wasn't the only one to wheel his spoilt middle-class offspring out in a cheap attempt to boost his appeal. Jamie was at it too in Jamie's Family Christmas (8pm, C4, from 15 December). Judging by the viewing figures it worked, but and perhaps I'm being a bit bah humbug (it has been known) I found the whole here's my beautiful house, my beautiful wife, my beautiful kids shtick really irritating. Especially as it completely detracted from the food. And once again, I was left pondering the practicality of the advice dished out.
Given that it was a five-part series, I can sort of understand why Jamie dealt with just one or two aspects of Christmas dinner in each episode, but it was infuriating to see him move straight on from the turkey and gravy to the leftovers and then mysteriously to pancakes, beef carpaccio with squash, ham and eggs and kedgeree (no me either). He didn't get on to the roasties until part three! Which I missed.
Fortunately, The Hairy Bikers (The Hairy Bikers Celebrate the Twelve Days of Christmas, 9pm, BBC2, 16 December) were on hand to save the day. They too deployed a scattergun approach to the main meal (the clue's in the title) but everything, right down to the dressing up as pantomime dames (think two fat Kenny Everetts... on second thoughts, don't), felt properly Christmassy. I may even try a couple of the recipes. And you can't say better than that.
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