Charlie Brooker on Christmas, CB radios and the "minefield" of one toilet households
The acerbic writer is no Grinch, especially with his former Blue Peter presenter wife making decorations from Fairy Liquid bottles
Are you a Christmas Scrooge?
No, I like Christmas! Making the annual round-up of the year show means sitting in an edit suite staring at harrowing footage, so after that Christmas is a welcome relief. You get to put your feet up, eat lots of food and stare, gimlet-eyed, at Iceland commercials. It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
Christmas TV often isn’t very festive...
Yes, no matter how depressing making our Christmas special might be, it’s not as depressing as EastEnders. EastEnders at Christmas could just be footage of someone getting a corkscrew driven into their eye for an hour. Was it last year when Bianca literally threw the turkey across the room? That was just hilarious. Imagine if they put out an EastEnders Christmas special where absolutely nothing went wrong and everyone was really happy. That would almost be more chilling, because you’d spend the whole time on tenterhooks.
What are your Christmas traditions?
I wouldn’t normally bother with decorations and stuff like that, but that’s because I’m lazy. I will this year because it’s nice for the kids, isn’t it? Our son is coming up for three and I find myself doing the whole Father Christmas charade. “Father Christmas is going to bring you a present, so PLEASE BE GOOD!” It’s all quite ordinary: Christmas hats, crackers, all of that. I’ll be watching Doctor Who and playing lots of video games because I’m a dweeb.
You’re married to Konnie Huq, who used to present Blue Peter. Do you have a hand-made Christmas?
I do a lot of the cooking, but she genuinely does fix things with sticky-back plastic. I’m not making that up to be cute, it’s true. She’s very, very thrifty. She never buys anything – she’ll just make them. So we’ll have home-made decorations and anything you can think of. It’s quite weird, like MacGyver or something.
Do you throw out washing-up liquid bottles?
We pretty much stockpile them. Nothing gets thrown away, everything gets reused. Konnie went around the world going to places where people have got nothing. She described a fight over a carrier bag in one place in the middle of nowhere. The crew had a carrier bag and an argument broke out over it among people in the village. So she doesn’t like me to throw anything away.
What was the best present you received as a child?
One year I got CB radio walkie-talkies, and on Christmas Day I went to a friend’s house and he snapped the aerial off one of them. CB radios were like the internet without the pictures... or point. It was at the height of the craze and I sat there going “Breaker 10-4, do you copy?” before I realised it was a gigantic waste of time.
There must be something you hate about the holidays?
Travel usually. Once you’ve arrived and you put your feet up, that’s pretty good. That and when you’re staying at a relative’s and there’s only one toilet in the house. You don’t want to be pooing with in-laws you don’t know very well. You have to time your trips, don’t you? It’s a minefield. What could be more Christmassy than a gigantic turd?