Christmas 2016: best TV on today, Tuesday 20 December
Gregg Wallace can't get enough mince pies in Inside the Christmas Factory before Darcey Bussell explores the life of ballerina Margot Fonteyn in Looking for Margot
Inside the Factory won my prize for Unexpectedly Not Awful TV of 2016. Gregg Wallace bellowing his enthusiasm over the roar of industrial machinery might not sound like a treat, but something in the format clicked and there’s well-I-never-ish nourishment in every programme. For this extra helping, Wallace visits the assembly line in Yorkshire where Mr Kipling makes — and pause here for a moment to ponder the scale of it — 2,000 mince pies a minute. Wallace is in his element, going all Generation Game to have a go at mixing pastry or rolling yule logs (by hand because machines can’t manage, apparently). Elsewhere, Cherry Healey discovers the secrets of designing a good “bad” Christmas jumper and shows us a grim-looking but very clever machine that turns out miles and miles of tinsel.
It promises to be a fraught family Christmas at Caroline’s new home in Huddersfield. Guests include her irredeemably wet ex-husband John (Tony Gardner) and his febrile partner Judith (Ronni Ancona). In the final episode of Sally Wainwright’s tough but tender seasonal tale, Gillian’s (Nicola Walker) fears that she’s being haunted by the ghost of her former husband take shape when little Calamity talks of an imaginary friend in the barn whom she insists on calling “Grandad”. Oooh.
“Every ballerina —including me — has aspired to be Margot Fonteyn,” says Darcey Bussell. But behind the “unfading image of the perfect ballerina”, Margaret Hookham, as she was christened, had a life marked by betrayal and disappointment. Tragically, after dancing professionally until she was 60, she died alone and in poverty. Bussell glides elegantly through her researches, exploring her legacy through interviews and footage of Fonteyn’s heart-stopping performances for the Royal Ballet company. It’s an extraordinary and moving portrait of one of our most famous ballerinas, painted lovingly by another.
Cooking for Marcus Wareing and Monica Galetti is daunting enough, but tonight the four remaining chefs will be feeding such luminaries of gastronomy as Michael Caines, Sat Bains and Claude Bosi as well as former MasterChef finalists. Between them they have held more than 30 Michelin stars. If that’s not enough to make our finalists tremble like a panna cotta, they’re then off to Oslo to work with innovative chef Esben Holmboe Bang, making dishes from clams, mackerel... and fermented plants and ants. After such formidable challenges, Friday’s final one must seem like a doddle — cook a three-course meal.
Even at Christmas Fitzpatrick Referrals is full of animals needing or recovering from life-changing operations. There’s a rescue greyhound with badly deformed and arthritic front legs — the outlook is poor. Then a border terrier puppy is admitted after falling off the sofa and fracturing both back legs. But just as he appears to be on the mend, Noel Fitzpatrick notices a problem with one of his front legs as well — is it fair to put the poor dog through more surgery? And those of us who assumed the Supervet never stopped working are put right when Noel takes his own dog, Keira, home to Ireland to visit his mum.