Jack Whitehall’s secondary school based sitcom makes a festive return, and it doesn’t disappoint. With the whole show based around the infamous Christmas play, there are plenty of gags from the first minute. The first scene, featuring Matthew Horne bending over in an inappropriate elf outfit as head teacher Mr Fraser and references to a biopic of Cheryl Cole and a one-man ‘Precious’, instantly provides refreshing humour that lacks in festive repeats.
Jack Whitehall’s portrayal of Alfie as a naïve young man is still humorous, and his monologue about why he hates Christmas plays is actually quite moving. It could show why he is quite childlike still, because all he wanted was his mum to see him as Mole Number 2. Yet this touching moment is stopped by Matthew Horne referring to Belieberism as an actual religion. The opening scene is great at showing the true comedic talents of Horne and Whitehall. There are also great cultural references involving Stephen, stating he should get involved in the Christmas show for his one-man ‘Precious’ and his bio-pic of Cheryl Cole.
The next scene shows the creation of ‘Robocracker’: a mash-up of ‘Robocop’ and ‘The Nutcracker’. This scene shows the ongoing gags involved from the previous episodes, including wheelchair-bound Rem Dog receiving Twister as a Christmas present and Alfie thinking Ying says that Rush Hour is the best film of the last twenty years. Although these gags could be seen as worn out, how they are incorporated is different every time. The auditions for the play bring in some humorous moments including Stephen (former Billy Elliott Layton Williams) performing the whole of ‘Flashdance’ and Chantelle recreating the infamous Basic Instinct scene with Alfie chanting, “Do not move your legs!” However, the highlight from the auditions is regular bully Frank Grayson performing (rather, shouting) a monologue from Romeo and Juliet. It was surprising yet funny because he was still aggressive in his monologue. The casting call of the play provides a reference to Kim Jong Un, which in current times shouldn’t be funny yet still is. From previous racial stereotypes, we believe Ying will play him, when really Alfie wants a rounded character, aka Joe.
The star turn in the show is homeless man Bonehead, portrayed by Whitehall’s Fresh Meat co-star Greg McHugh. His strong Scottish accent is perfect for representing Alfie’s prejudiced views of the homeless (he said he couldn’t go to a soup kitchen because he couldn’t understand Scottish accents). He is understated as an actor-turned-homeless man who robs from blind people and the wheelchair-bound, as he steals the wheels from Rem Dog’s wheelchair whilst he’s sitting in it.
The actual play is full of Whitehall’s witty ramblings with Alfie forgetting that Rem Dog is in a wheelchair, resulting in a reindeer (Mitchell) having to get the present from the sleigh. Other highlights include the ‘tolerance dance’ to ‘2 Become 1’ and the entrance of Alfie’s mum (Frances Barber). However, the episode’s highlight is the reprisal of Frank’s Romeo and Juliet monologue, which results in Frank kissing Stephen, revealing his sexuality. With Horne in tears in the audience and Des’ree’s ‘Kissing You’ playing in the background, it is a shocking tear-jerking moment. It is later revealed that Frank bought Stephen the West Ham ticket he had mysteriously received, and it is implied that Stephen is the reason Frank auditioned for the play in the first place.
This Christmas special was refreshingly original and wasn’t full of cheesy clichés. Jack Whitehall proved why he won King of Comedy at the British Comedy Awards at the beginning of the month with his self-penned festive episode. Although the adults in the show (mainly Whitehall and Horne) were their usual witty selves in this episode, the main star of the show was Jack Bence whose portrayal of Frank was aggressive yet tender in places. Overall, this yuletide show was as festive as a Christmas cracker without the cheesy jokes.