Last Night's TV: Christmas with Gordon/Channel 4
Jimmy's Food Factory/BBC1
Come Dine with Me: Celebrity Christmas Special/Channel 4
Little Crackers/Sky1

The title sequence for Christmas with Gordon featured a chef's knife smashing through a bauble, a cheering sight for anyone who finds this time of year just a tiny bit wearing. The programme itself, though, had fully signed up to the mood of can-do bonhomie that infects the airwaves at this time of year. "I love Christmas," Gordon assured us, before promising that he was going to help us make our Christmas "stress-free and delicious". The secret, he said, helpfully, is to get as much done in advance as you can. Good advice that, but where exactly is "advance" going to fit? Gordon himself was looking relaxed because he was presumably filming this some time in September, and it probably gave him a welcome break from dealing with his in-laws. But anyone watching the programme last night would only have two nights left for "advance", and then only if the family agreed not to eat anything else between now and Saturday, and agreed to get their presents in the Amazon box they were delivered in.

Buy a lot of lemons would be one tip. I don't suppose that Gordon is likely to provoke anything like the Great Cranberry Famine of '95, which followed the publication of Delia Smith's Winter Collection, but lemon zest seemed to go into everything. He put it in the pork, apricot and pistachio stuffing, and the flavoured butter with which he goosed his turkey and into the sautéed Brussels with pancetta and chestnuts. I don't think any went into the cranberry and apple sauce, but that may have been an omission because he was distracted by the food fight he was having with his children, roped in for the bit on homemade mint truffles in order to amplify the mood of family festivity. The recipes looked perfectly nice anyway, and if you plan properly may well prove useful for Christmas 2011.

It's a good time for presenters to get their relatives on screen right now. Jimmy Doherty's was showing off his new baby in last night's special edition of Jimmy's Food Factory, and his mum and dad had also pitched up, pulling on the woolly hats and sweaters, to sit out in the farmyard and blink artificial snow out of their eyes as their son explored the industrial origins of various Christmas foods. "How do you reckon you get 10 million of these ready just before Christmas?" he asked jovially, cradling a large turkey under his arm. Well this will be interesting, I thought. He's going to rig up a home-made stunning-and-throat-slitting line to take us through the ins-and-outs of industrial slaughter. He didn't of course, though we did get to see the giant dresser where they hatch the turkey chicks, one crammed unit pulled open to show you what it would look like if your sock drawer suddenly came to life. He also made his own chocolate brazils, polishing them with confectioner's glaze using a cement mixer and an adapted leaf blower, and producing a surprisingly credible end product. Confectioner's glaze, incidentally, is made from shellac, the exudations of an Asian bug, something you might like to think about the next time you pop a gleaming chocolate brazil in your mouth.

No hint of dissent from yuletide right-think in Jimmy's Food Factory. But Come Dine with Me: Celebrity Christmas Special threw up a rebel in the form of Goldie, drum'n'bass DJ and something of a flavour of the month in reality television. "I think Christmas is seriously overrated," he told us, as he prepared roast leg of lamb for Janet Ellis (a former Blue Peter presenter), Susie Amy (she played Chardonnay in Footballers' Wives) and Tony Christie. He had taken the trouble to put reindeer horns on his dogs, though, a seasonal gesture that went slightly wrong when the reindeer got over boisterous and one of the guests turned out to have a dog allergy. They didn't look very keen when he got his boa constrictor out either, which isn't a drum'n'bass euphemism. Or when he turned the dinner table conversation to the dogs' bowel movements: "They eat everything and their poo's solid as a rock," he said cheerfully, as he prepared to serve the vanilla crème brûlée. Janet Ellis, one of nature's schoolmarms, eventually won the cash, despite ticking off all the other hosts for various forms of bad behaviour but Goldie triumphed as far as the ad-libs went. "I would love a glass of Kir Royale," he said in a broad American accent, having arrived for Janet's Fifties-themed dinner dressed as a car salesman. "I saw the movie... James Bond, right?"

Little Crackers, the title of Sky's specially commissioned comedy shorts, is something of a hostage to fortune, underlining the fact that the snap doesn't work in all of them and the jokes are sometimes a bit duff. But Bill Bailey's "Car Park Babylon" was very satisfying. Bailey played a technologically obsessed loner who finds himself on the receiving end of supernatural punishment, after failing to show sufficient Christmas spirit. This is a fairly standard template for a Christmas tale, I suppose, but the pleasure here came from the agency of his comeuppance, which wasn't some chain-clanking ghoul but a malevolent car park pay station. Having taken his last remaining cash – to the accompaniment of comically extended whirrings and clonks – the machine began to communicate with him through a tiny speaker, talking in ways that suggested Bailey wasn't its first victim. The last shot you saw was the machine in bleak subterranean isolation, the tinny sound of Bailey singing a desperate Christmas carol leaking from its innards.

t.sutcliffe@independent.co.uk

Arts and Entertainment
'Silent Night' last topped Classic FM's favourite Christmas carol poll in 2002
classical
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'