CHRISTOPHER STEVENS: A plastic Rudolph for £995! What a Liberty

CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night’s TV: A plastic Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer for £995! What a Liberty

Liberty At Christmas


Would I Lie To You? At Christmas


The person who invented the scented candle deserves to be dipped in boiling wax and set alight. These smoky, smutty, greasy, stinky things need banning.

Whatever nonsense is printed on the jar — black cherry, chocolate layer cake — they smell only of cheap, molten wax. They are fire hazards, and when they’ve burned out you’re left with a blackened glass beaker that can’t be recycled.

But there will be one in every gran’s Christmas stocking. And the cost is ridiculous. Liberty At Christmas (C4) saw the luxury department store in London’s West End promoting their ‘oud wood scented candles with a hint of damask rose’ at £48 each.

‘It is such an amazing offer,’ marketing chief Madeleine declared. ‘We don’t want it to be something that no one can afford. Everyone can have a little bit of Liberty in their home.’

In 2020, during the pre-Christmas lockdown, Liberty in London was deemed ‘non-essential’ and forced to close its doors

In fairness to Madeleine, the candles are at the budget end of their range. If you’ve got more leeway, why not treat Auntie Flo to a pair of silk pyjamas, a mere £450.

Some Liberty customers — Adele and Beyoncé were mentioned — buy a pair for every day of the week. Or, if you haven’t finished your decorations, take home a plastic reindeer with plush fur at £995.

‘They do need stroking,’ warned an assistant. ‘You’ve got to look after them.’

If you’re wondering, a plastic Liberty Rudolph is about twice the price of a real one — there’s a place in Manchester that will let you hire a reindeer at £450 for four hours. Which, I should think, is quite long enough for all the children to get bored of stroking it.

Perhaps that’s why in 2020, during the pre-Christmas lockdown, Liberty was deemed ‘non-essential’ and forced to close its doors.

Saucy offer of the night: 

‘I wondered if you wanted to look at a building with me?’ Creepy Ed the architect (David Oyelowo) asked Jane (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) in The Girl Before (BBC1). That must be the modern version of inviting a girl to come up and see your etchings. 

This year, with shoppers staying away from London in droves, the staff were frantic to attract customers. You have to admire the mad dedication of the window dressers, who worked through the small hours five nights in a row to complete the displays, all constructed from paper.

When it was finished, teddy bears were climbing over a slide, surrounded by 35,000 envelopes, all of which had to be individually glued shut.

That sounds like a tall story from the font of all improbable tales, Would I Lie To You? (BBC1) — back with a Christmas special crammed with more glorious anecdotes and whoppers than ever.

They included one with a festive flavour about a jolly old man who appeared out of a blizzard to hand Ardal O’Hanlon a walnut, before disappearing back into the snow.

Ardal, much loved as dim priest Dougal in Father Ted as well as DI Jack Mooney on Death In Paradise, is a natural raconteur — as we’ve seen before on Alan Davies’s talk show, As Yet Untitled.

Would I Lie To You? is a blissfully funny format, but it does highlight the dearth of real chat shows on TV. In a previous era, Ardal would have shone in conversation with Parky or Michael Aspel. There’d be no shortage of top-notch guests.

Host Rob Brydon couldn’t believe his luck at getting Oscar winner Jim Broadbent and dancing newsreader Angela Rippon, who proved she can still throw a high kick like a can-can girl.

As ever, the game is worth watching just to marvel at the speed of Lee Mack’s ad libs. I suspect he can’t control them.

No doubt he’s sometimes in trouble in real life, for blurting jokes out before he can stop himself.

When Jim announced that he’d walked in the Pyrenees, Lee flashed back, ‘I’ve walked with a pair of knees!’ Boom-boom!

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