Last Night's Viewing: London's Burning Chanel 4
Lorraine's Last Minute Christmas BBC2


What with it being nearly New Year and all, we're almost at the stage where we can safely start assessing the highs and lows of the Year That Was. We are approaching the end of the risky pre-emptive period, where the combination of major world events and celebrity deaths threaten, perilously, to render us redundant. Soon, tantalisingly soon, we will be able to write our Hundred Best lists with confidence.

So what did we watch on TV? Any guesses are slightly complicated by the unwieldy prospect of Christmas Day. This year, that means both Absolutely Fabulous and a special edition of Downton Abbey, both of which I will be absolutely GLUED TO, despite the fact that they are airing simultaneously and thus permitting only the most practised of remote-control wielders to tune in (this is not public-service broadcasting, BBC. Will you never learn?)

Anyway, Downton and Ab Fab excepting, I think I can already say what was, for me, the Most Gripping Television Moment of 2011. It was, unexpectedly, at about 4pm on Monday 8 August, when I looked up from my computer screen to see my high street assuming a starring role on Sky News. It was just about recognisable, though, to be honest – even I had a little difficulty given that Tesco was on fire and an army of hooded youths seemed to be doing battle with approximately three policemen.

In fact, my corner of east London wasn't that badly hit. But it was impossible to stop watching, eyes like saucers, as somewhere so familiar was transformed into somewhere so unfamiliar. So, really, it shouldn't come as a surprise that London's Burning was also utterly, Killingesquely compelling. Based on witness testimonies, it saw David Morrissey and Samantha Bond star in a dramatisation of the days during which the capital seemed to go mad. Whether or not it was very good is a different question. But for a Londoner, it was riot porn. You couldn't help but be fascinated.


Actually, on balance, I think it probably was rather good. Certainly, Morrissey was very good as the bureaucracy-hit Gerry Campbell, acting borough commander for Wandsworth. It had that thing, where drama is interspersed with real news footage, which always bestows a hint of the Crimewatch reconstruction. And some of it was a little hammy, the performances that weren't Bond or Morrissey a little corny, the script a little clichéd: a middle-class family eating artichoke-heart sandwiches, the grey-haired oldies sneering at Twitter ("it's twatter"). But still you couldn't help but watch. And it reminded us of a few things too: the lawlessness of streets where 350 rioters came up against just eight policemen, the astonishing, staggering refusal of David Cameron to return for his holiday. I found myself wondering whether this really did happen. But, yes, unbelievably, it did.

Evidently, Lorraine Pascale has graduated. She is now so sufficiently recognised, enough of a household name, that she's Lorraine. Just Lorraine (what of Kelly?). And so it was that we were treated to Lorraine's Last Minute Christmas, complete with mince pie stars, stained-glass cookies and Lorraine in reindeer slippers. And if you can possibly bear to pay attention to any more Christmas cooking shows, this one had some useful tips.

There was a nice segment on affordable wines, and a moderately informative chat with a butcher about what to cook for two, and whether you can still find turkey on Christmas Eve. There was also a truly horrendous-looking winter wonderland Christmas tray bake. In fact, if you are in the market for festive advice, here's mine. Don't, for the love of God, make that.

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

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

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
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


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

Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

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

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

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

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas