We set Rachel Fairburn the challenge of watching Christmas channels for as long as she could stomach it. She lasted six hours. But what a six hours… We’ll certainly take one of those hosepipes.
“Do you like Christmas?” a lot of people ask me in the same ‘Are you kidding me?’ tone more commonly used to address the bizarre happenings of 2016.
Yes. Yes, I do.
I’m a misery 96.8 per cent of the year but I truly do like Christmas: the food, the decorations, the nights out. One thing has always baffled me though: who in the entire universe is watching the Christmas channels? I’m not, and I like Christmas.
My mate Kate loves Christmas so much that she has Christmas-themed toilet roll and she doesn’t watch them either. Here we have a woman who literally shits Christmas and yet doesn’t watch the Christmas channels. I don’t know anyone who does, so must assume the audience is the same people who go to U2 gigs and watch Holby City; they obviously exist, you just never meet them.
In an attempt to hit peak Chrimbo, I devised a festive, less extreme version of the Ludovico Technique and made my beady eyes watch Christmas TV and nothing else for as many hours solid as I could.
I Sellotaped my eyelids open, sat down with a mulled wine, popped on my Christmas blanket and grabbed my remote. Here are my findings.
11.30am to 1.30pm
I start with a film recommendation. My good friend and fellow standup Danny Sutcliffe said I should almost certainly watch Hats off to Christmas!. He watched it last year, presumably when he was too hungover to change the channel on his TV.
The film is about Mia, a single mum with a son who is a wheelchair user. She works at Hats Off, a Christmas shop that sells novelty hats. And only hats. It’s doing very well. Really.
Long story short: Mia wants to be the boss. Her boss makes his son the boss. The son is a bit like Mr Darcy but with a laptop. Naturally, they clash but Mia’s son takes a shine to Darcy Laptop because he’s the best at cookie carving or something like that. Some other woman shows an interest in Darcy Laptop and refers to Mia as “homely” so I guess this other woman is a total cow.
“I settle on a show called Gifts Under £40. Not for inspiration, but to see what I’m likely to get from my thrifty friends. You know who you are.”
I leave the room for another mulled wine and when I return someone who works in the Hats Off warehouse has fallen off a ladder. I have no idea who he was, sorry about that.
A bit later Darcy Laptop is dressed as Father Christmas and Mia’s son is walking without his wheelchair, which is great news! (Although I do hate it when films get Santa and Jesus mixed up). Then Mia snogs Darcy Laptop right in front of her son, which is a bit much if you ask me.
I knew I shouldn’t have taken Danny Sutcliffe’s recommendation; I once watched him eat a dog biscuit from a stranger’s pocket and he isn’t even a dog.
1.30pm to 2.30pm
All the feel-good vibes of Hats off to Christmas! make me long for the true meaning of the season: presents. I switch to the shopping channels. I settle on a show called Gifts Under £40. Not for inspiration, but to see what I’m likely to get from my thrifty friends. You know who you are.
Two women are trying to flog me a diamanté mirrored box. You could use it as a jewellery box, box for your keys or a “remote control holder”. I mean, that’s a bit OTT. I’m not Elton bloody John.
The next few potential gifts are a hosepipe, a blanket and an electronic songbook. One of the presenters says the electric songbook is, “Better than buying those expensive console games that cost £50 and go straight in the bin.”
I agree. I too am sick of people opening console games that they asked for on Christmas Day and immediately hurling them in the bin. All those console games in landfill after New Year make me want to spew. I think I’ll option the electronic songbook, despite not having a bloody clue what it is.
2.30pm to 3.30pm
Religious channel. Three minutes in and all this talk of Jesus makes me realise I need more wine, so I go to the shops. Lady in the shop asks why I have Sellotape on my eyelids. I tell her to mind her own business.
3.30pm to 5.30pm
Return to the Christmas Channel and start watching a film about the mum from Everybody Loves Raymond returning to Earth as an angel. She’s called Miss Myrtle and the kids call her Miss Miracle. There’s no need for this as it’s clearly not her name and they don’t know she’s dead yet. Don’t recall much after that.
I must have fallen asleep at some point because I woke up at 11pm, having ordered 15 hosepipes and seven electronic songbooks. I only know four people.
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Rachel Fairburn is a stand-up comic, co-host of the All Killa No Filla podcast and lover of leopard print.