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Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas Traditions

It is Christmas Eve and I still need to wrap my presents and finish putting up the decorations. Everybody seems to be agreed that the highlight of the festive season will be tomorrow's airing of the Dr. Who Christmas special. This is a big jump from previous Christmas staples such as the Morecambe and Wise Show and Only Fools and Horses.

Today's Guardian heightens our anticipation by reviewing the standard fare from other countries around the World. Come to think of it, haven't I read this article before? It seems that others have their TV traditions as well.

The French offering of the 1982, black-comedy Le Père Noël Est Une Ordure (which translates along the lines of Father Christmas Is A Scumbag) actually sounds like it is worthwhile watching. The Guardian reviewer says it is 'set on Christmas Eve in a social service helpline call centre, three workers try with varying degrees of failure to spread festive cheer among the depressed, suicidal homeless, heartbroken and bereaved who turn up looking for salvation. Utterly bleak, totally farcical, and very very funny.' It can only go downhill from here, and it does.

In Germany, we are told that no Christmas is complete without three films: 'Little Lord Fauntleroy (small child in daft velour trouser-suit inherits castle. The end); Das Fliegende Klassenzimmer (The Flying Classroom); and classic chick-flick Sissi, a cheery bio-pic about the Empress of Austria's anorexia, marital abuse and assassination. However, topping New Year's Eve ratings every year since 1973 is a black and white, 11-minute cult British comedy sketch called Dinner For One. The sketch centres around a randy, tipsy 90-year-old aristocrat, Miss Sophie, and her long-suffering, equally sozzled butler, James. "Same procedure as last year?" slurs James, chivvying Miss Sophie upstairs for her annual festive seeing-to. "Same procedure as every year!" hiccups Miss Sophie, as millions of viewers all over Germany yell along with the catchphrases in glee. Filmed in 1963, Dinner For One is a holiday hit all over Europe, including Estonia, Switzerland and Latvia. Everywhere, in fact, except for its place of creation, Britain, where we spotted, 42 years ago, that it was really, really bloody unfunny.'

Sweden has Kalle Anke or Donald Duck to the uninitiated, whilst in Russia Eldar Ryanazov's comedy The Irony Of Fate has been an intrinsic part of their New Year's Eve ritual since 1975. Described as a three-hour-long comedy of errors, this film is the tale of a man who gets drunk, goes home to the wrong flat and falls in love with the woman he meets there. It is shown several times a day every December 31 just in case you missed a bit the first time around.

Top of the pops however has to be Romania where the highlight of the Christmas period is footage of the Ceausescus being dragged outside on Christmas Day 1989 and executed by firing squad over the small matter of genocide, moving a billion dollars of Romanian money into off-shore accounts and ruining the country's heritage. They are a cheerful lot these Rumanians!
Now what sort of person sits around in front of a computer on Christmas Eve!!!

Have a good Xmas Peter.
I did deliver some leaflets as well!
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