CUTTING EDGE: HIGHLIGHT KING OF CHRISTMAS LIGHTS

by Lisa McGarry

This Cutting Edge film explores the world of extreme Christmas decorating, meeting some of the UK’s most obsessive, eccentric and lovable people who live for adorning their houses in festive regalia every year.

Throwing a spotlight on what Christmas means in contemporary Britain, this programme finds out what motivates people to cover their houses in Christmas every year. Are these twinkly-lights-enthusiasts the last bastions of community and Christmas spirit? Some may do it for fun, some may want to bring festive cheer to the neighbourhood, others maybe for charity, but none of them can get enough of the buzz they get when the neighbours coo at their displays. The programme follows them as they plan for months, buying the latest equipment and music-sequencing software and spending much of their disposable incomes on nothing but lights.

This heart-warming, quirky and entertaining film offers both an eye-popping spectacle and also an insight into their true motives, relationships under strain from overindulgent merriment, households pitted against their neighbours in a bid to make their decorations outshine all others, and communities united in their desire to light up the night sky. Paul Toole, 36, from Somerset, has one of the biggest and best Christmas light displays in the country, on which he spends around £5000 each year.

This year he wants to decorate all of the houses on the street, although they don’t know that yet. Twenty-two-year-old Karl Beetson from Northamptonshire is one of the most impressive decorators in Britain; he experiments with the latest computer technology to create amazing sequenced displays. This year the computer wizard is introducing animatronics in his display. There’s rarely a day of putting up the lights without a family Beetson brouhaha, with mum Nicky acting as mediator between father and son: a battle that Karl’s dad usually loses. Brothers Paul and Lee Brailsford live next door to each other in Bristol; they work together; their homes are identical; and they both have girlfriends called Emma. The brothers decorate their mother’s house across the street every year because it’s detached and they can decorate all three sides.

9PM tonight – Channel 4