For one month a year the whole Jesus celebrating world goes chestnuts for elves, snow and non sexy stockings, the same old chart toppers are wheeled out to ensure that artists like Mariah Carey and The Pogues earn a royalty and we all have that inevitable drunken squabble.
Festive TV is a lot of bah humbug too. Even the animated classic The Snowman is getting a bit tiresome. So with not a lot going on, it has been encouraging to see Channel 4 attempt to offer something new, seasonal and slightly different.
Children are usually told that if they behave (or whine enough), they’ll be rewarded with toys that will be all the rage in charity shops come June 2013. As for Santa Claus himself, he’s normally viewed as a loving, kind and warm chap who most certainly passed all background checks for working with children after the Jimmy Savile revelations.
So how would you feel about knowing that your son, cousin or sister was sitting on the lap of a recovering alcoholic, former armed burglar or general dodgy character who’d sell you an iPad out of the back of a Ford Fiesta for £30? Most people would probably run a mile, but PR firm The Ministry Of Fun actually went out of their way to work with people who’ve had a ‘difficult past’ in an attempt to offer them a road to recovery. And a qualification that will allow them to become a professional Santa Claus.
What is encouraging about the programme is that there are people willing to help others out, especially when the background of these ‘others’ is so sketchy. They say never judge a book by its cover, but after knowing one bloke hospitalised two people which he claims was self defence, it becomes clear that this won’t be a straight forward task.
From applicants who need a pint of Dutch courage before performing to the task of appointing Frank, the Ministry of Fun’s first ever black Santa, this program bridges the gap between light-hearted feel good entertainment, and the knowledge that the participants are being helped rather than exploited for our amusement.
For anyone who thought that people who are employed as a Santa Claus just turn up and put on a suit, its remarkably interesting to see the training and knowledge that’s required, for example learning the name of the nine reindeer (Google them yourself), how to react to the varying responses of enthusiastic or bored children and what toys are actually popular this year.
Instead of thrusting the camera on a load of folk who want to use it to launch a six month gossip magazine career, Bad Santas is one of the shows you possibly wouldn’t plan to watch but with its charming and positive feel, it’s much better than the impending doom that will occur on every soap opera this Christmas.