Nadiya’s American Adventure; Red Penguins; Luxurious Christmas for Less; Coronation St; Reviews; The Vicar of Dibley in Lockdown.


TO: Français Dawn.

SUBJECT: You are not,

Yeah, it’s me.

Dear Dawn, like the character of the Reverend you played in The Vicar of Dibley in Lockdown, you find yourself a good guy (BBC1, Monday). Loved by millions, to spread cheer where there is none, the series was brought back for Christmas. A shot on TV while we’re waiting for something real. For the soldiers, a tonic.

And I can’t bear it, though. Its pettiness makes me want my skin to be peeled off. It’s the comedy equivalent of a skelf in the thumb, measured, painful in the smallest of doses.

Of course, I only saw the first of three shorts in which your Reverend Geraldine delivers a zoom sermon, and I hear the second one is a candy for the eyes.

But even 10 minutes later, the first episode was like 100 strokes of a wet dishtowel from Cath Kidston. “Is it working?”Is it working? It’s not me, like I said, but you. Or that sort of anything. Alison, with love

It’s difficult not to like the woman in the middle of the American Adventure of Nadiya (BBC1, Thursday). What a long way has she gone after she won “Bake Off.” Could it have been just five years? On the other hand, because she hasn’t adapted her personality or style to television, Hussain is so popular. The medium reveres natural people, and she is the real deal; regardless of their age or history, she can put herself in people’s shoes.

In this strange, hour-long combination of cooking show, documentary, travelogue and bird-watching, she needed those skills here.

Louisiana and New Orleans were the first stop. She took a 10-minute detour into an area that was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina 15 years ago and remains mostly so still, after enjoying herself at Mardi Gras. But she met a local man who had opened a store where nearly everything, including hope, was sold.

She cooked everywhere she went and applied her own touch to the local dishes. Yeah, and much to her apparent joy, a bald eagle was seen in a forest.

Occasionally, as she mentioned the obvious, there was a false note – New Orleans was the birthplace of jazz, you know?

-but her commentary, on the whole, was quickly off the mark.

Red Penguins (BBC4, Monday) was a documentary that had it all, it seemed. The story of Americans purchasing a share in the Red Army hockey team shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union was told here. A marketing genius named Steve Warshaw was sent by the American investors to Moscow, and he found a club as fractured and rotten as the nation. Chaos reigned, and a little money came in for sponsorship, but much went out the door.

Gabe Polsky’s film took forever to get going, making it run much longer than the story deserved. As

There was so much, as far as the tale goes,

of everything, from strippers on the ice at halftime to bears serving drinks. The viewer was supposed to find it all funny/freaky in a perverse way. I don’t know about you, but I tend to find a

Sense of humor fails when bears appear.

The whole thing was too

self-conscious “I’m crazy” posturing that started with our Steve but didn’t end there. By the time the Russian mafia had a hand in things and events took a seriously ugly turn, at the latest, the change in tone was jarring. Less would have been so much more on this subject.

Luxury Christmas for Less (Channel 4, Monday) was hosted by sympathetic consumer advocates Sabrina Grant and Helen Skelton. “After the year we’ve all had, there’s only one thing that can save 2020,” they proclaimed, “a cracking Christmas packed with luxury ingredients. Obviously, the show was in the can before Santa Claus, backed by the pharmaceutical industry, arrived with the vaccine.

Some of the top tips were as tired as last year’s leftover wrapping paper. Who doesn’t know that discount supermarkets have great products at great prices?

or that stores

Turn up Christmas music to get in the mood to spend more money? In an hour it was

it was thin stuff.

Cheers to Yasmeen, whose victory over the redoubtable Geoff on Coronation Street (STV, Monday to Friday) was a poignant sight.

Justice seems to move at lightning speed in Weatherfield, with

The time from crime to prison sentence (or not, as in Yasmeen’s case) is a relative blink of a judge’s eye.


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