Miriam Margolyes is a self-confessed Christmas Scrooge, seeing it as a holiday that’s become over-commercialised, too expensive and a whole heap of stress. But now, Miriam is turning to her love of Charles Dickens and the festive traditions he introduced through ‘A Christmas Carol‘, to see if she can rekindle her love for Christmas.
Growing up in a Jewish family, Miriam did celebrate Christmas but as her dad refused to let them have decorations or a tree, the focus was on the feasting. Having not marked Christmas in any way for 30 years, Miriam agrees to host her first-ever Christmas party with food at the top of the agenda.
Before A Christmas Carol, goose was the traditional bird on any Christmas table, but after Scrooge bought the Cratchit family a plump turkey, it became the fashionable feast of choice. Food historian Dr Annie Grey is on hand to help cook, but how will mock turtle soup, made from the head of a calf, go down with Miriam?
Historian and craft specialist Ruth Goodman also attempts to win Miriam round to making her own decorations. A trip to one of the oldest toy shops in the world offers some party entertaining inspiration, and an emotional meeting with Charles Dickens’ great great great granddaughter, Lucinda Hawksley, brings the importance of philanthropy in Dickens’ writing to the forefront. Great Ormond Street was just one recipient of Dickens’ own charity work, and Miriam meets their chaplain to find out just how Dickens helped transform the hospital.
As Miriam’s guests arrive and are served a Dickensian Gin Twist, made by plunging a red-hot poker into a tankard, will she feel she’s balanced the fun and theatrics of Charles Dickens with his charitable, generous spirit?
Miriam’s Dickensian Christmas
Tuesday at 9.00pm on Channel Four.
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