My Favourite Christmas Special: Holy (Bottom)
As a youngster Bottom may possibly have been the greatest TV show ever. Like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off it is a twelve year old’s perfect show. Think of it as slapstick fighting, tits and fart jokes all centered around two cretinous virgins (depending which episode and character you believe at any given time). The Christmas special from 1992 is the highest of high points (which in terms of quality was really quite high but if referring to the level of humour...well, subterranean is a good description).
It’s early morning and Santa has been! Eddie, played by Adrian Edmondson - husband of Jennifer Saunders - is less than happy about this but Richie (a wonderful turn from Rik Mayall as far separated from Flashheart as possible!) cannot wait to open his presents. He has fewer than Eddie. Substantially. But Eddie is opening individual Brussel sprouts for the next few hours! It continues with the innovative use of handy household items when the lack of brandy necessitates the production of vodka margarine instead of brandy butter. Genius. On so many levels.
All of this is remarkably entertaining as always and encourages the little fiends within to cause all kind of havoc on Christmas day if allowed to watch. Even today it brings belly-laughs to the fore in a household of young and old, boys and girls.
The best thing though is that the main narrative strand of this particular episode is yet to come - but it may well be the greatest extended comedy sketch known to man. It’s truly miraculous.
The doorbell rings. Richie answers it ready to scream and shout at the insensitive charity collectors who are interrupting his and his friend’s Christmas day. It isn’t though, of course. It’s a baby. From there we see some Terry’s All Gold chocolate, a Frankenstein mask and an aftershave named ‘Grrrr’. Richie recalls he’s never had sex, everyone else is wearing a crown and he is wearing a blue headscarf. He’s the virgin mother of the second coming. This plot strand is the most fantastic ever conceived and it all works perfectly in the Bottom universe. The ending needn’t be spoiled here. Just find a way to watch it, even if it requires a significant number of requests to the BBC for a repeat one year.
The show as a whole is an odd one to have a Christmas special version of. Richie and Eddie are evil bastards who fight and cajole and shout and swear and are generally the most good for nothing folk you’ve ever met. Extracting howls of laughter from a Christmas episode centered around the second coming is ballsy and it’s pulled off with remarkable ease. Edmondson and Mayall are fantastic as ever in their roles (you get the sense they have enormous fun playing them - they should; they created the characters!) and the supporting cast are incredibly deadpan and add to the strange split between the absolute awfulness of the day in the show versus the joy it’s brought to people since its airing. Whether twelve or thirty-one it is, like, the perfect Christmas special.
Check out the BBC Bottom page here.