Bah Humbug! The Modern Scrooge’s Christmas

Great Britain

There’s so much Christmas around here I could expectorate tinsel. Christmas used to be fun with granddad smoking rolling tobacco indoors and grandma swearing at him and Mum force-feeding everyone her strange homemade mince pies that tasted vaguely of cigarettes and Dad building train-sets that caught fire. Now they’re all dead, so Christmas is a tree with no presents around its base.

Instead of sliding across central London on sledges and hiding snowballs in the freezer for later we’re now wading through warm water and watching the downpour flooding our roads and rail lines. Cheers, global warming. Greta Thunberg is the only one who cares and she gets trolled for it.

The past is all around us at this time of the year. Christmas carols on a piped loop, fake retail jollity, artificial trees, plastic snowmen – it could be any time between 1975 and the present, especially if you look at the BBC. This year there are new versions of A Christmas Carol, Cinderella, Gavin and Stacey, Worzel Gummidge, Paddington, Christine Keeler and Dr Who. Perhaps they’ll revamp The Black & White Minstrel Show too. Or perhaps they could run something that’s not over 50 years old.

Oxford Street’s lights have reached the peak of impersonality – no angels or Santas this year but a series of street-wide LED screens showing fake snow and retail opportunity-led adverts from the same kind of people who tried to turn Holborn into ‘Midtown’.

What a wonderful year it’s been, so let’s all pretend it’s going to be all right from now on. It’s the start of Boris de Pfeffel Johnson’s reign of awfulness, as the serial fantasist who wrecked every job he’s ever had (in the Foreign Office he failed to apply himself with any consistency or purpose to anything, and as Mayor he behaved like a half-listening tinfoil-hatted dictator). Now he gets to tiller the country over a cliff.

Let’s watch some Christmas films instead. I recommend:

Rare Exports

Troll Hunter

Black Christmas (1974)

Better Watch Out


St Nicholas


Joyeux Nöel

Bad Santa

A Christmas Story


21 comments on “Bah Humbug! The Modern Scrooge’s Christmas”

  1. Brian Evans says:

    I absolutely love the early 1950s film “The Holly and the Ivy” about a family Christmas in Norfolk with two wonderful performances by Celia Johnson and Margaret Leighton, set in a small town vicarage resided over by vicar Ralph Richardson who is also in great form.

    I can’t really explain my liking for this picture as I hate Christmas, families and religion. Perhaps it’s because , as like most a family Christmas, it ends with a stonking row.

  2. admin says:

    I must revisit it – it’s here in my ‘British Classics’ box. So many great films of our collective past have been treated badly in terms of Home Ent. Half only exist as blurry DVDs.

  3. Liz Thompson says:

    I’ll vote for Krampus. Saw it last year, and went away smiling. On the song front, Tom Lehrer’s Christmas carol is pretty accurate. “Even though the prospect sickens…”.

  4. Roger says:

    Just been watching Scrooge at the NFT and it confirmed my admiration for Alastair Sim. Scrooge is transformed, but he’s still the same man. And any film with Ernest Thesiger (an undertaker here) is on my to-be-watched again-and-again list.
    A couple of French films: Le père Noël est une ordure – Christmas at the Samaritans, you might say – and L’assassinat du Père Noël, which features a French Alpine village with a shop selling globes – nothing but globes – and The Nightmare Before Christmas – come on Jack! – and Preston Sturges’s Remember the Night – Barbara Stanwyck -another in my must-watch list.

  5. Helen Martin says:

    On the other hand I watched Belles of St. Trinians the other night and Men in Black last night. Tonight is Men in Black 2 and I hope it’s as good as the first one. I’m not big on Christmas programs, although I have watched the mandatory Charlie Brown already, chiefly because they’re made by people who are trying to pull in big audiences to watch ads. I don’t know about the BBC. I might watch The Santa Clause because I liked it but not Part 2 or 3 because they were ripoffs. I keep thinking about New South Wales on fire with authorities saying it’s too late to escape and people here being told not to try to cross the mountains until the snow has eased enough for the plows to have a chance to make the passes a little bit safer. Somehow “jolly, jolly” doesn’t seem a helpful response.

  6. SteveB says:

    Amazing Mr Blunden just came out on bluray by the way
    Just saying

  7. Wayne Mook says:

    Already seen 2 of my favourite Christmas films, Die Hard and Die Hard 2. It’s surprising how many people are actually killed in these films.

    Brazil is also set at Christmas, Helpman’s speech about terrorists being poor sports and criminals paying for their own interrogations ends with a ‘Merry Christmas to you all.’ Helpman even shows up dressed as Santa.

    And a segment from Tales from the Crypt starring Joan Collins, And All Through The House. A lovely Christmas tale of murder and unexpected visitors.


  8. Brooke says:

    I’m with Helen. Add to it the new Scrooge meme/actions in US. We’ve forgotten Scrooge’s reclamation and remember only his Bah Humbug unintelligent response to the world around him..

  9. Helen Martin says:

    The Australian PM has not only returned early from his holiday but has apologized to the electorate for his appearance of not caring about the fires. The apology – a lost art.
    May I add to comments from early Feb with regard to MS Bainbridge and her novel “Master Georgie”. It turned out to be just as affecting as Chris suggested. The book turned up on a shelf, arriving from who knows where. This house has black holes that work both ways apparently.

  10. Ian Luck says:

    Bill Murray’s ‘Scrooged’ is a favourite of mine. A beautifully dark movie. His character’s solution to fixing tiny antlers to live mice, is both cruel and hilarious. ‘Trading Places’ is another fun movie – Dan Aykroyd’s character, ruined for a bet by his employers, and at his lowest ebb, disguised as Santa, and trying to eat a side of smoked salmon through his beard, at a posh party, is simultaneously, sad, disgusting, and funny. The best Christmas movies are the ones with a dark edge to them – they beat the cloyingly schmaltzy ones hands down. Always.

  11. Bob Low says:

    Definitely Black Christmas from 1974. Two other Christmas favourites in our household are The Nightmare Before Christmas – great songs, lovely animation – and a film called ‘Dead End’ from 2003 with Ray Wise and Lin Shaye as a bickering couple driving on Christmas Eve to a family get-together, only to discover that Something Isn’t Right…….
    It’s not much more than an extended Twilight Zone episode with added grue, but the performances are great, it’s often very funny and the script has a lot of barbed, recognisable observations about the horrors of some family Christmases.

  12. Bob Low says:

    I’m also with Wayne on the opening story from the Amicus ‘Tales From the Crypt’. The sight of Joan Collins braining her husband with a poker after he’s wrapped her present, and has innocently settled down to read ‘The Burley Observer’ is delightedly mean spirited.

  13. Jo W says:

    Gosh Chris, what an opening paragraph! A chortle to start with, then some family memories and a tear turner-on to finish. All the emotions I could do without, at the moment.
    Off to spend time at the seaside and pretending to be jolly with the rest. Ho bloody ho.

  14. Wayne Mook says:

    I guess I should mention tonight the BBC start a 3 part version of A Christmas Coral with Guy Pearce as Scrooge, Stephen Knight is the adapter (Peaky Blinders) and it’s supposed to be very dark and not for kids. We’ll see.

    When I see that name I can’t help but think of The Brotherhood and his Ripper Book, the author/journalist didn’t like the Masons. (I know different Knight.)


  15. Adam says:

    I’m currently standing in the doorway of clothes shop in Covent Garden whilst my teenage daughter tries on every single item they have. My Christmas spirit isn’t overly high at this moment in time…..

  16. Diane Englot says:

    Christmas is a joyful time in our family, with warm traditions, so I can’t relate to other people’s grumpiness, but I do like your recommended movie list!

    Merry Christmas everyone, and a Wonderful (as best you can make it) New Year!

  17. Ian Luck says:

    Christmas is a time of dark, of cold, of grim things scrabbling at your windows, of demons, of sacrifices to bring back the sunshine, of nailing children to logs which are then burned, of taking the old and sick somewhere bleak and desolate, and leaving them there for the wolves to find. That’s the true spirit of this time of year. If you managed to live through the dark and the cold – that was the best gift you could hope for. I hate Christmas, and have done so since I was about seven. All of it is pointless. I hate being given things I didn’t ask for. I hate huge meals. I have never seen the point of celebrating something that certainly never happened. Christmas, to me, has always been twee, sentimental, and irredeemably awful. To me, December the 25th will be Wednesday. Nothing more. I view Christmas as I view games: they have no point. So I shun them. And I’m perfectly happy with this.

  18. Liz Thompson says:

    Having watched the new production of Christmas Carol on TV last night, or at least the first of the 3 parts, it summoned up real victorian capitalist England for me. Dark, sinister, startling, viciously funny, and with no discernible sentimentality. And Cratchett much less servile than normally portrayed.
    But alas, no Muppets, no Doomed Scrooge, doomed for all time. But certainly worth watching.

  19. Helen Martin says:

    Glad to hear the BBC got Scrooge right, Liz. And now that everyone has rid themselves of their pet peeves about the season I’ll just say, “A Merry Christmas, Everyone, and a very Happy New Year!” So there.

  20. Helen Turnage says:

    George C Scott A Christmas Carol, Die Hard, and this tv movie where Scott Bakula is flying solo to Auckland at Christmas, gets lost, is rescued by a 747. True story.

  21. Helen Martin says:

    Aside from the locale, that last plot sounds like the short story we hear every Christmas Eve, The Shepherd, about an RAF pilot whose instruments conk out as he is flying home over the North Sea and who is “shepherded” home by an apparently ghost plane.

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