Back in Time for Christmas, BBC2 - TV review: Post-war festivities involved spam, ciggies and cooking for the girls

The Robshaw family were back with another fun trip down memory lane - with added tinsel 

Sally Newall
Tuesday 15 December 2015 01:44
Tinsel town: the screen-friendly Robshaw family features in 'Back in Time for Christmas'
Tinsel town: the screen-friendly Robshaw family features in 'Back in Time for Christmas'

Christmas has been going since about September, and as it dances to its stomach-bursting, festive-jumper-wearing, purse-emptying climax, it's tempting to yearn for simpler times. But be careful what you wish for, as the Robshaw family found out in Back in Time for Christmas, an inevitable but enjoyable festive version of BBC2's Back in Time for Dinner. Instead of just experiencing the evening meal of decades gone by, the likeable family had their own seasonal Groundhog Day, celebrating 25 December and all its trappings from the austere Forties through to the Sixties.

Like last time there was impressive attention to detail. They got a retro home for each decade, pitch-perfect dress and historically accurate gifts. That meant there were homemade presents – carrot fudge, yummy – asbestos-laced decorations and ration-era ox heart for dinner in the post-war years. Then they feasted on spam, anchovy and olive canapés (surely due an ironic comeback?) in the Fifties. To welcome the Sixties, they decorated a tinsel tree made in a loo-brush factory and got boxes of fags as presents.

Presenters Giles Coren and Dr Polly Russell were pretty much redundant in this. They sent Coren to the football with dad Duncan, a lecturer, and son, Fred, just to give him something to do. And it was what men did on Christmas Day up until the Fifties, we learned. Women had a raw deal and it was conveyed well by the screen-friendly Robshaws who are the right proportions of thoughtful, funny and game for giving anything a go. “Just what I need to imprison myself,” said Rochelle as she unwrapped some aprons in the Fifties.

The family agreed pared-down Christmases could be more meaningful, if the girls were ever allowed out the kitchen. But for 11-year-old Fred, the next instalment of Seventies to Nineties consumerism looked brighter. “If you're like me and you're in it for the presents, then it's great.”

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