CHRISTOPHER STEVENS: These shows are more ho-hum than ho-ho-ho

Christmas cheer? These shows are more ho-hum than ho-ho-ho: CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night’s TV

Celebrity Lego Masters At Christmas 


Rise Of The Clans 


You know it’s almost Christmas when every third-rate telly filler show serves up a festive special with tinsel and trimmings.

This week alone, there are Chrimble editions of Through The Keyhole, Amazing Spaces, Shop Well For Less, Kids A&E and Amazing Hotels. Don’t forget to set your recorder.

Most overstretched format of them all was Celebrity Lego Masters At Christmas (C4), which began life as a featherweight TV challenge for children with boxes of plastic building blocks, and then injected a layer of vacuity by adding celebs, and sprayed it all with fake snow.

Celebrity Lego Masters At Christmas. Pictured: Warwick Davies, Joe Swash, Spencer Matthews, Joel Dommett, Alice Perrin, Rob Beckett, Fran Scott, Matthew James Ashton and Melvin Odoom

A bag of pink candyfloss would look like Panorama by comparison. The young competitors arrived full of serious-minded zeal, but even they were taken aback at just how D-list this show was.

None of them knew their celebs. Izzy, the contest’s only girl, was asked what she knew about her famous sidekick, reality show schmuck Spencer Matthews. ‘He’s a man,’ she said uncertainly.

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Competitive Jack made an effort to be polite about the show-off at his elbow, comedian Rob Beckett: ‘He’s blond, got big teeth and . . . he’s tall to an extent.’

A career in international diplomacy beckons Jack — ‘tall to an extent’ is the perfect way to describe Vladimir Putin. Like Bake Off, Sewing Bee and similar set-ups, Lego Masters has two judges — one firm but fair, one flamboyant.

Pictured: Harry and celebrity helper Warwick Davies

Stern Fran Scott supplied my favourite moment when she described a construction as ‘volumptuous’. That’s not a word, but it should be.

Presenter Melvin Odoom nearly burst a bloodvessel injecting ‘fun’ and ‘hilarity’ into proceedings, capering about like a cartoon elf.

He munched an entire carrot in one go, and claimed he learned the trick from Rudolf. Like everyone else, he sported a Christmas jumper as lurid as the nose on an inebriated reindeer.

The builders created Lego skating ponds, snowy chimneypots, sleighs, baubles, trees, fairy lights and Santas, while the producers raided every Yuletide cliche they could think of.

It all underlined the certainty that this show was filmed during the July heatwave. Not that any of this made it unwatchable. Surveying his celeb’s inept attempts to clip bricks together, Jack said heavily: ‘Right now I’m keeping my expectations low.’ The perfect attitude for approaching any show with ‘Christmas’ in the title.

A more realistic portrayal of a family Christmas was delivered in Rise Of The Clans (BBC4). Historian Neil Oliver recounted the birth of the Stuart dynasty, as Queen Joan, the wife of murdered monarch James I, took vengeance on her enemies.

Rise Of The Clans: Historian Neil Oliver (pictured) recounted the birth of the Stuart dynasty

One was flayed alive. Another was forced to watch the evisceration of his son. A third was hurled into a dungeon wearing a paper crown painted with insults. We’ve all got an auntie like Queen Joan.

Meanwhile, old King Robert refused to eat and died of depression. With his last words, he pleaded to be buried in a dungheap. Christmas can do that to some people.

This retelling consisted almost entirely of pantomime and teeth-gnashing with no dialogue. Neil was relishing all the gore — even the route of armies marching across parchment maps was marked in droplets of blood.

Every skirmish and assassination was re-enacted with terrific enthusiasm by huge men waving battle-axes. It was history for people who think Game Of Thrones is tame and soppy.

And as another tankard of ale went flying, and daggers flashed, you could almost taste the mince pies. Merry Christmas.

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