This week’s television picks:
I’m A Celebrity…A Castle Story, Sunday 13th December, 8.00pm-9.00pm, ITV
Presented by Ant & Dec, this one-off show combines the best bits from this year’s series, as well as interviews with the celebrities.
This year’s series, much like the year itself, was very different to the norm.
The series had previously been filmed in Australia ever since its inception in 2002. However, this year the celebrities swapped the jungle for a castle as the show was presented from Gwrych Castle in North Wales, due to travel restrictions put in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Viewers will see the best bits from this year’s series as they look back on a momentous point in the show’s history as the eclectic mix of celebrity campmates supported each other; shared stories and jokes; and took on dreaded trials and challenges in the hope of being crowned King or Queen of The Castle.
Chef vs Corner Shop, Monday 14th December, 5.30pm-6.00pm, Channel 4
Chizzy Akudolu presides over the brand-new competition – showing Monday to Friday this week – where one resident chef goes head-to-head with a different challenger every day to see who can cook the best two course menu for £10 using only ingredients sourced from a corner shop.
In this ultimate test of culinary creativity, the winner is decided by the shopkeepers themselves. Who can make the best use of what they have to offer in the time available?
The team are in Somerset, where local boy Dean Edwards summons all his experience, uses all his skill and finds a bit of good luck to try and defeat the line-up of celebrity chefs and the local challenger who await.
Christmas at Highclere Castle, Wednesday 16th December, 9.00pm-10.00pm, Channel 4
Celebrate Christmas at one of the UK’s grandest castles in this magical programme, with unprecedented behind-the-scenes access to one of the most recognisable houses in the world – Highclere Castle – the setting of the hit TV series and film Downton Abbey, as they deck their halls and transform for Christmas in their own unique way.
As guests of the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon, we discover what life is like at the real Downton and meet the small team tasked with creating seasonal cheer in the castle. We also get to know the driving force behind the operation, Lady Carnarvon.
Christmas at Highclere Castle features a 22-foot tree in the saloon, hundreds of metres of garlands, thousands of baubles, plus many more trees inside and out.
The colour theme for this Christmas is Victorian, reds, greens and golds, and decorating Highclere is no mean feat. It’s a race against time for the castle’s close-knit team to get everything prepared in time to welcome small groups of guests for guided tours and tea, as well as a virtual gin cocktail party hosted by the Earl and Countess. It’s a chance to enjoy the spectacle of Christmas at the real Downton Abbey.
Snackmasters: Domino’s, Thursday 17th December, 8.00pm-9.00pm, Channel 4
Fred Sirieix sets two leading chefs the challenge of creating a perfect replica of Domino’s pepperoni passion pizza.
The pepperoni passion is the brand’s top-selling pizza in the UK and a world away from the high-class cuisine usually served by the chefs.
Jason Atherton holds four Michelin stars and is one of Britain’s most successful culinary entrepreneurs. Francesco Mazzei is a proud Italian, famous for bringing spicy ‘Nduja sausage to the UK. Both chefs go all out to perfect their replicas, from spending eye watering sums on speciality pizza ovens, to conducting spy missions at their local Domino’s.
The competition reaches fever pitch in a battle of England versus Italy, where both chefs cook their pizzas for a panel of Domino’s bosses, who will pick a winner.
As the chefs work all hours, comedian Jayde Adams gets an access-all-areas tour of Domino’s factories and restaurants to find out how the pizza is really made.
The Savoy at Christmas, Thursday 17th December, 9.00pm-10.00pm, ITV
Filled with glamour, elegance, history and character and truly the first luxury hotel in Britain, The Savoy has sat alongside the River Thames for over 130 years. It has hosted rock stars and royalty, Oscar winners and prime ministers and is now opening its famous revolving doors to the cameras for this brand new Christmas special.
The festive season is the busiest time of year. Across the hotel, every department is preparing for the rush and the hotel is fully booked.
Upstairs in the Butler’s Pantry, tensions are high as head butler Sean is preparing his newest recruit, Michael, for his first ever Christmas at the hotel. Michael is responsible for preparing the room for the Sprenger family, who spend every Christmas at The Savoy.
Restaurant director Anne is busily preparing the hotel’s four restaurants and her 160 staff for Christmas, and hoping that she might be able to take the day off and spend it with her own family for the first time in four years. The last time she was at home on Christmas Day was when her daughter was born and she was on maternity leave. Anne is desperate to get home in time to put her little girl to bed on Christmas Eve.
The Savoy Grill’s restaurant director Thierry and executive head chef Ben are also preparing for a very busy day. With a seven-course Christmas lunch to prepare and three sittings, they will be serving up 4,500 dishes in total on Christmas day.
Thierry’s mum is over from France for Christmas and pops into the Thames Foyer for a festive afternoon tea with her hard-working son.
Regular guest, Howell Harris drives from Wales to spend his first Christmas at the hotel since his mother died. Head butler Sean goes out of his way to make sure he is looked after and surprises him with a special trip to make it a Christmas he will remember.
On New Year’s Eve, new butler Michael is rushed off his feet delivering in-room dining to the high paying guests.
While downstairs Anne is dealing with another staffing crisis as she prepares to welcome 400 guests, who have paid up to £495 each to see in the New Year with riverside views of the midnight fireworks.