CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night's TV

CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night’s TV: How Kirstie turned Christmas crafting into a spectator sport

Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas 

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Christmas Magic At Kew Gardens

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Are we bothering with Christmas this year? Most people round my way appear to have opted out, or are making a desultory effort at best.

Before Covid, the road along my local river was a blaze of illuminations, with 8ft-high inflatable snowmen jostling in the gardens, and enough flashing lights to distract the International Space Station.

It was getting to look so much like Las Vegas that Liberace could move in to No 47 and no one would raise an eyebrow.

Now, there’s nary a fairy light in sight. It appears we’ve all had the sage-and-onion stuffing knocked out of us.

But it’ll take more than a pandemic to stop the Princess of Glitter, Kirstie Allsopp. She’s back all this week and next with Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas (C4), bursting with glee at the buttons and beads in the crafting box.

Kirstie Allsopp Is back all this week and next with Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas (C4), bursting with glee at the buttons and beads in the crafting box

‘I can absolutely tell I’m just absolutely going to love this!’ she cried.

Four amateur enthusiasts were vying last night to make the best festive wreaths — and when Kirstie discovered one contestant was squirting glue into place with a giant syringe, she was ecstatic.

‘Oh my giddy aunt,’ she squeaked, ‘the cleverest things they have these days. What a joy.’

Then she rounded on the camera crew for not telling her about the existence of glue syringes: ‘Why didn’t you lot know?’

Perhaps they don’t trust her. Previous years have seen Kirstie take charge, showing us how to craft lopsided angels and misshapen baubles. But the standard now is so high all she can do is watch.

‘I’m crafting my heart out,’ she declared, but really, she was just having a tentative go at threading pearls or pouring molten pewter, before giving up. And let’s be honest, if Kirstie can’t manage it, the rest of us have no hope. Crafting is a spectator sport this year.

The results were splendid, though. Sharon made a metal wreath out of dancing hares, Gabriella used her macrame and crochet skills to knot cords into a wreath like a crescent moon, and Katie made an advent calendar whose doors opened to reveal a little paper house.

My favourite was Bethan’s reindeer head made of chickenwire and moss. Water it, she said, and it’ll still be green and bushy for next year.

But if it’s green and bushy you want, Christmas Magic At Kew Gardens (C5) is really the place to go.

Christmas Magic At Kew Gardens (C5) might have made a fun, five-minute feature on The One Show, but watching workers decorate trees for an entire hour became frankly dull

The tree gangs with their hydraulic ladders and rappelling kit spend most of the year lopping branches, but now they’re put to work stringing lights through the upper foliage.

At Kew’s sister garden, Wakehurst in Sussex, 1,800 flashing LED bulbs suspended from a 121ft giant redwood make it the tallest living Christmas tree in the world. Pilots on the flightpath into Gatwick say they use it as a beacon.

This might have made a fun, five-minute feature on The One Show, but watching workers decorate trees for an entire hour became frankly dull.

The Kew Gardens shows are usually packed with interesting facts about exotic horticulture. This time, as the gift shop staff showed off their bags of potpourri and a historian lectured us on the uses of frankincense 2,000 years ago, it all rather dragged on.

But you can’t accuse Kew of being apathetic about festivities. The vast glass houses now look like visiting spaceships, thanks to a million bulbs and projector beams.

Fountains explode in jets of neon light, and the Singing Trees flicker and flash in time to music. Christmas is certainly here.

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