Tuesday 25 December, BBC1, 4:35pm
If Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, then how do you account for Christmas day television? From depressing filler programmes like TV’s Naughtiest Christmas Blunders to EastEnders in which everything is heart-shatteringly awful, the entire day is like being pinned down and force-fed misery by the spoonful.
Even the supposedly chirpy Live at the Apollo is pretty bleak, with some of Britain’s most derivative yet commercially viable comedians telling sub-Seinfeld observations about how terrible their electrical appliances are.
It’s surely enough to make you pine for the days when Christmas TV was fun and light-hearted and free from irreverent attacks on toasters.
Well, fortunately, this Christmas day at 4:35 there’s a touching animated short on BBC One called Room on the Broom, which has been adapted from a book by Gruffalo creators Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler.
Narrated by Simon Pegg, it tells the story of a caring witch who invites a number of cute critters to ride with her on her broom, much to the frustration of her adorable, but very protective pet cat.
The cast is notably impressive with Gillian Anderson, Rob Brydon, Martin Clunes, David Walliams and Sally Hawkins all voicing characters. However, so much of the story is told through the wonderfully compelling visuals that not much is actually said, with the film sticking as close as it can to the original book.
Aesthetically, the short strikes a nice balance between computer-generated animation and an almost hand drawn style, which adds a lot of appeal to these quirky and immediately lovable characters. In fact, even the fiery antagonist, who takes the form of an enormous dragon, is somewhat cuddly.
Voiced by Timothy Spall, the dragon has far too much charisma to come across as genuinely scary — although, regrettably, I so heavily associate Spall’s distinctive South London twang with the Wickes advert that I couldn’t help thinking his character was going to force me to buy a bit of MDF or a new kitchen.
Still, it’s hard to complain about much else. With a running time of just twenty-five minutes, Room on the Broom is perfect for those with young children—or, indeed, people who, like me, spend Christmas alone eating semi-defrosted ready meals with the aid of a bit of old coat hanger.
It doesn’t really matter who you are; regardless of your age, gender or disposition, it’s difficult to deny this gem’s heart-warming charm. In fact, it’s exactly the kind of thing that you’d hope would air on Christmas day: irresistible and fun for the entire family.
Anyone with a soft spot for cartoons like Raymond Briggs The Snowman and Father Christmas should get a tremendous kick out of it.
Find out more about Room on the Broom at www.roomonthebroom.com
The DVD is available from the website or Amazon from 18th March 2013