Unreality Advent: Christmas Cooks

by Lynn Connolly

Every Christmas we get inundated with celebrity cooks showing us how to make our Christmas dinner into something akin to dying and going to heaven, but who to believe? Jamie? Nigella? Delia? Gordon? Heston? Hugh?

They all have some ‘secret to a succulent turkey’ that they’re willing to impart, and for them, it works perfectly.

Last year, I watched enraptured as Nigella immersed her turkey in a huge bucket full of all sorts of goodies such as cloves and orange peel as well as a variety of herbs and things. All these things – and the turkey of course – were plonked in a lot of water and left overnight…

We then saw Nigella wandering about in her dressing gown – replicating Christmas Day – and doing other fantastic things to her turkey, and it all went beautifully.

I tried it, as I said, and what came out of my bucket resembled one of those corpses you see being dragged from rivers on Taggart. I then had to hang my turkey over the sink to try and drain it out and make it look less like uncooked road kill.

I tried in fact a bit of everyone’s advice; Jamie’s about the roasters, Hugh’s tips on sprouts – though not anything to do with turkey necks and making gizzards into canapés – and Gordon’s zest-cinnamon-bake-done routine for parsnips, or some veg anyway, and to be honest, though my family were too polite to say so, it all tasted rather like pizza. Orange flavoured pizza.

So this year, I’ve decided not to take any notice of TV chefs, but that said, it wouldn’t be Christmas for me if I didn’t watch them all making dishes I could only dream of turning out. And there’s a goodly few of them on to watch too.

On Channel 4, we’ll be seeing Heston Blumenthal creating “the ultimate Christmas Feast” and it’s apparently to be ”inspired by the most incredible festive dishes of the past.”


According to Channel 4’s press release about the show, “there definitely won’t be any dry turkey, mushy sprouts or rock-hard Christmas pudding on the table.” Unlike my Christmas dinner then, which will be all those things…

Heston’s Christmas Feast will include a lavish appetizer – which was loved by King Charles II it seems – and made from the world’s most unusual ingredient, whale vomit. Ooo finally, something that does resemble my Christmas dinner!

Then we’re to see him create the Roman Emperors’ favourite snack, edible dormouse followed by a venison dish “fit for a medieval king” and an entirely edible Christmas scene complete with flavoured snow.

The feast will be served to celebrity diners including actor Charlie Higson, broadcaster Mariella Frostrup, comedienne Arabella Weir, former rugby player Matt Dawson, actor James Purefoy, and journalist Kate Spicer. Good luck then guys…

Next up on Channel 4’s culinary platter is Christmas Jamie Oliver, without whom, Christmas would lose all meaning. In a special five-parter, Jamie will – again – share his secrets for a stress-free family Christmas. As if such a thing exists.


The programmes are, according to C4’s blurb, “packed with fool-proof, hassle-free ways to make Christmas a week-long extravaganza.”

Filmed at his Essex home and featuring Jamie’s family and friends, it’s the solution to everyone’s Christmas food worries apparently. Except me; goes without saying.

Jamie will demonstrate how to “make the best, most succulent turkey – including some incredible flavoured butters – with delicious gravy and stuffing, as well as a great way to use up all that leftover turkey on Boxing Day.”

He’ll also show us how to make roast potatoes to savour and not break your teeth on, as well as new ways with Christmas veg. I could show him a few “new ways” with his Christmas veg, and most of them involve bending over…

Jamie will also create some Christmassy desserts and, I’m reliably informed, has quick ideas for snacks and lighter festive meals, as well as “simple but delicious” Christmas food and drink to prepare in advance.

Mind you, that I am good at. I just go buy them from Tesco at the end of November and stick it all in the freezer…

More Christmas telly news coming your way soon in Unreality’s advent. You lucky personage you.

Lynn is an editor and writer here at Unreality TV and is trained psychotherapist and the author of two books. She's addicted to soaps, period drama and reality TV shows such as X Factor, I'm A Celeb and Big Brother.