I don’t think I’m really an Anglophile – although it’s true that, if money were no object, I would certainly retire to a charming pied-à-terre in London’s Chelsea neighborhood, where I would spend long days reading nineteenth-century British novels and eating Thornton’s chocolates. (In this fantasy, calories are no object, either.)
But the time of year in which I come closest to Anglophilia is Christmas. Not because of Scrooge and Tiny Tim, but because of Christmas TV.
In the UK, Christmas is primo TV time, the season when broadcasters roll out their most tempting, sinfully indulgent programming – the brand new, two-hour episodes of beloved series; the adaptations of popular books, starring legions of fantastic character actors; the first television showings of blockbuster films. It’s the time of year when the family lays in a good supply of sherry trifle and Thornton's chocolates and gathers round the glowing electronic hearth to celebrate the holiday in style.
You may have noticed that this is not what happens here in the US. For us, Christmas is a television wasteland in which viewers wander amid various dispiritingly stale options: football games, colorized versions of ancient Christmas movies, Downton Abbey reruns, that weird show with the burning Yule log. . . . Apparently, our broadcasters expect us to spend our holidays far from the tube, gorging on goodies and fighting with our relatives.
This year, while we are gorging and fighting, our fortunate British friends will be watching both the new adaptation of Death Comes to Pemberley, P.D. James’ mystery-novel sequel to Pride and Prejudice; and a two-hour Downton Abbey Christmas episode. I don’t have high hopes for Death Comes to Pemberley – the TV trailer looked campy, and not necessarily intentionally so – but I’ll take Mr. Darcy over the Yule log any day of the week.
It may be time to start pricing pieds-à-terre in Chelsea.