Alan Carr’s guide to surviving Christmas: 10 festive tips from the comic

The Chatty Man helps you navigate the festive season

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The Christmas 2018 TV schedules are chock full of the usual extravaganzas to keep us amused, and Alan Carr’s Christmas Cracker promises some proper old-school entertainment as the comic hosts a mix of sketches, special guests and merry mischief.

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Inviting us into his makeshift ‘Alpine lodge’, Alan will be sharing the eggnog with celebrities including Danny and Dani Dyer, Emilia Fox, Channing Tatum and Olly Murs. And with his seasonal special now a mainstay of Channel 4’s festive line-up, who better to provide an exclusive guide to surviving the most wonderful – but occasionally stressful – time of the year…

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Buying presents – have an emergency gift on standby

“I get in early buying gifts but there’s always someone you’ve forgotten about who rocks up on Christmas Eve with a present, and you haven’t got them anything. Either you have to re-gift or pop down the Texaco garage for some charcoal briquettes. Don’t get caught out. Luckily there’s an M&S service station near me so I can at least rustle up a half-dead orchid.”

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Receiving unwanted presents – how to pretend you love them

“I go into chat show host mode – if I ever had a guest whose film was really boring I’d have to pretend I loved it, so I can turn it on. Go big as you unwrap it in front of the person who gave it to you, gasp a bit and simply repeat what the gift is in an excited voice.”

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Hosting Christmas Day – get a butler

“My husband Paul does all the cooking and won’t let me in the kitchen, and I walk around looking pretty topping everyone’s glasses up and piercing the film to heat up some vol au vents. If possible, have someone else do the work, a butler or a maid.”

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Dealing with guests – don’t invite actors

“We had a couple of actors round for Christmas dinner once – never again. They love a drama and I just wanted my food. Everything was OTT, it was like a performance of Macbeth. We didn’t eat until 6pm – I like a 1:30pm start then you can get cracking on the wine. Although I have got some lovely actors as guests on my Channel 4 show – Emilia Fox, Channing Tatum, the cast of Line of Duty. It’s very classy.”

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The perfect location try somewhere exotic

“Don’t tell my family, but my best Christmas Day ever was on Bondi beach when I was backpacking. No hassle, no presents, a home-made barbecue and some tinnies on the beach in 26 degree heat. Perfect. If you get a chance to have Christmas in the sunshine do it. I’m in an Alpine lodge for the Channel 4 show. Well, the set is actually a pine book case with a bit of snow on top.”

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Family arguments – monitor alcohol to avoid aggro

“A few wines and everyone’s happy, but if my mum has a Disaronno she turns into the Hulk. So please monitor the drinking. If someone gets a bit angry, pop in a Nytol or some Benilyn to calm them down. And tequila will make people forget what presents they’ve had.”

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Over-indulging – remember to pace yourself

“This is how I pace – white wine followed by red wine. White fires you up, red slows you down. Then maybe a couple of Roses and you’re back to normal! Just don’t forget to line your stomach. The Christmas Cracker show doesn’t have the sustained heavy drinking like Chatty Man used to. We do have a massive vat of eggnog but it’s more civilised and old-fashioned entertainment. It doesn’t turn into a Channel 5 documentary on boozing Britain.”

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Christmas food – dress appropriately and hold out for the buffet

“It’s the one day of the year you shouldn’t have to feel bad about what you eat. I saw my neighbour out the window one Christmas morning running past in lycra – I hope they slipped over on the black ice. Just put your trackies on and get stuck in. I actually prefer the teatime cold meat and pickle buffet to the main Christmas dinner – controversial I know. Chips with salad cream is very underrated.”

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Festive TV – stick with the classics

“I swerve all the big blockbuster premieres and go a bit old school, It’s a Wonderful Life, Carry On Camping, Dr No. Is there a Christmas Naked Attraction? I’d watch that, imagine all the bits of tinsels and baubles hanging around.”

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Christmas jumpers – avoid for health and safety reasons

“They’re cheap and itchy and too hot. You wear one for a laugh and the next thing you know you’re face down having CPR because you’ve hyperventilated. Wear a slanket you can unzip at the front so you can at least air your breath. Merry Christmas!”

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Alan Carr’s Christmas Cracker is on Christmas Day (Tuesday 25th December) on Channel 4 at 10:15pm