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BGT''s unwrapped gift steals show; Walliams and Banjo strip off for Stavros Flatley dance.

Byline: IAN HYLAND on Christmas Day telly BAWDY Mrs Brown

If we were being completely fair and gracious there was just one way to react to yesterday's festive TV offerings. To be as polite as a grandad who'd just received the same style of slippers for the tenth Christmas in a row. "Oh, are those for me? You really shouldn't have."

Like millions of people who had to throw a Christmas dinner together at the last minute, the networks gave it a go under 2020's extremely trying circumstances - although one or two put in a little less effort than the others (yes, I am looking at you channels 4 and 5).

gifts take you completely by surprise - and this two-hour special, which brought together some of the show's more memorable acts, certainly did that.

BGT has been on a downward slope lately so I wasn't expecting much. But I loved it from the minute I saw Ant & Dec talking to a kindly old gentleman in a Santa outfit. At first I thought it might be Simon Cowell making a guest appearance but then I noticed Santa's outfit was done up all the way to the collar.

To be fair, Cowell was probably relieved he had a medical exemption. Not very best take totally by and did that least because the judges had to perform with the acts. Alesha Dixon and Amanda Holden played it safe by singing with Tokio Myers and Collabro respectively.

However, the highlight of the show - and the day itself - was David Walliams and Ashley Banjo stripping off to join Stavros Flatley.

Walliams was clearly the more, shall we say, aesthetically suited to being in that particular dance troupe. Fortunately for him, Ant & Dec were feeling generous. Fearing he would not be able to suck his stomach in for much longer, they quickly cut to an ad break.

BBC1 could not hope to match BGT for entertainment. Its output had more than a whiff of "this'll do" about it.

I can't imagine Michael McIntyre's The Wheel would have been granted such a prime spot in any other year, while I suspect the latest revamp of Blankety Blank was slotted in at the last minute when someone realised there was a danger of an hour going by without Bradley Walsh appearing on our screens.

Given the fact Strictly Come Dancing almost single-handedly rescued television this year, I can't be too hard on the ballroom mob.

Let's be honest though, that Top 25 countdown was a bit like someone at BBC HQ had shoved on an old DVD and settled down for a post-turkey nap.

It was nice to see all the old routines again but the chart was already out of date. If the BBC redid the vote today, Bill Bailey's Rapper's Delight routine would sail straight into the Top 5.

BBC1 fared better in the evening. Call The Midwife softened us all up with a magical 90 minutes, during which a circus came to town and several lumps came to the throat. (Emotional lumps, that is. Not undigested sprouts.)

There was even room for a little political comment, with bumbling odd-job man and part-time turkey salesman Fred being roundly chastised for offering oven-ready deals that were anything but.

Turned out his were the kind of

It was a pity they didn't speak to each other before finalising their listings. That way we might not have had three people on three channels pretending to be the UK's Queen.

''

The presents you BGT

The big day kicked off with ITV taking the opportunity to introduce a captive audience to daytime heavyweights such as Good Morning Britain, Lorraine and This Morning. (That big-money premium rate phone competition isn't going to enter itself now, is it?) If the sight of Piers Morgan in his studio make-up reminded just one person that they needed to go and baste their turkey, then I think we can call that experiment a success.

In the evening, Piers was back again, albeit briefly, in the one programme on the day that pushed the boat out. BGT's Christmas Spectacular. The best festive turkeys you had to go pluck yourself.

As that last bit sounds like something Agnes Brown might say, I guess we must deal with the day's most divisive show - Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas Special.

Fans would have been delighted to see Mrs B delivering what she delivers every year. A bawdy half-hour of old jokes, smut and panto slapstick, topped off with a helping of schmaltz.

Mrs B's haters would have been happy too - not least as the scripts have begun to provide ready-made content for their angry tweets.

Walking in on her mum giggling last night, Cathy asked: "What's funny?"

Mrs B's reply? "Nothing, Cathy." That's Mrs Brown.

Bringing gifts to the nation at Christmas since 2011.

be Simon '' The very best presents take you totally by surprise... and BGT did that

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TRICK & TREAT Fake Queen on C4 and Call the Midwife's Fred
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Author:IAN HYLAND on Christmas Day telly BAWDY Mrs Brown
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 26, 2020
Words:831
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