Entertainment Television

Sunday 15 December 2019

Pat Stacey: Latest Christmas Carol adaptation looks like the dreaded 'reimagining'

Who needs another Christmas Carol? asks Pat Stacey

A Christmas Carol: Guy Pearce as Ebeneezer Scrooge. PIC: Robert Viglasky/FX
A Christmas Carol: Guy Pearce as Ebeneezer Scrooge. PIC: Robert Viglasky/FX

Pat Stacey

Remember when you were a kid and your parents and grandparents used to complain that Christmas seemed to be coming earlier every year? You couldn’t figure out why they were moaning and rolling their eyes. Because for you, Christmas couldn’t come early enough.

Well, here you are now, doing a bit of moaning and eye-rolling of your own. Maybe you’re not a parent or a grandparent, or maybe you are; either way, you know what they were getting at.

Christmas does seem to come earlier every year. A lot of hotels, shops, pubs and restaurants already have their trees and decorations up.

You might even have a neighbour whose house is already so overpopulated with inflatable snowmen and light-up reindeer, it looks like a gaudy Las Vegas brothel that’s going with a Santa’s Christmas Wonderland theme.

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Meanwhile, in supermarkets – by far the biggest offenders when it comes to premature Christmas celebrations – the seasonal songs were already blasting loudly from the speakers before the last Halloween zombie had shuffled back into its grave for another year.

It’s enough to give you a right pain in the baubles – and that’s coming from someone who absolutely loves Christmas. If it’s a choice between fake jollity that will have evaporated like snow on a radiator by the time December 31 rolls around or no jollity at all, I’ll take the fake variety every time. But, please, just hold off for another few weeks, okay.

That said, it’s probably a little early to be opening television’s big box of Christmas gifts, primarily because we don’t yet know what’s inside the box. Except... we kind of do.

This week, the BBC lifted the lid, just a tiny crack, to give us a fleeting glimpse of what it’s hiding beneath the shiny paper and bows.

We know there’s a Mrs Brown’s Boys Christmas special. But then there’s always a Mrs Brown’s Boys Christmas special. It’s become as much of a dreary BBC Christmas Day fixture as the Queen’s speech, only with more F-words.

RTE will surely be relieved, though. At least it means our beleaguered national broadcaster will have something to show on December 25, in the event it can’t find enough loose change down the back of the sofa to make a few Christmas shows of its own.

There’s a Gavin & Stacey Christmas special, which is the TV equivalent of receiving a used, snot-encrusted handkerchief as a Christmas present.

Another ghost of Christmas past putting in an appearance is children’s show Worzel Gummidge – although it’s a reboot, written by and starring Mackenzie Crook, of Detectorists fame. Let’s hope he can use his metal detector to unearth a few jokes better than the one in that series.

There’s also a new MR James ghost story adaptation from Mark Gatiss (yay), a six-part drama about English model/topless showgirl Christine Keeler (sounds promising), and another Agatha Christie (not bothered).

But wait, what’s this? Why, it’s a new version of A Christmas Carol to go along to with the 6,000 other versions already in existence. It has Guy Pearce as Ebenezer Scrooge, backed up by a cast including Andy Serkis, Stephen Graham and Charlotte Riley.

It’s in three parts, which presumably means three hours, from a book that barely nudges past 100 pages, and it’s written by Stephen Peaky Blinders Knight. Will the ghosts be packing razor blades, I wonder?

The BBC promises us it will be “spine-chilling”. Right.

Oooh, there’s a trailer: it looks dark and grim. Yeah, you’ve got to think: what a story with four ghosts, visions of starving workhouse children and a glimpse into hell needs, is some extra dark and grim. I bet there’ll be thinly-veiled contemporary references, too.

Nobody has yet used the word “reimagined”, but you can tell that’s what they’ve done... Just like they “reimagined” The War of the Worlds.

Right, that’s that sorted. It’s The Muppet Christmas Carol DVD in our house again this year. There, BBC. Fixed it for you.


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