Miriam’s Dickensian Christmas — air date, interview, what happens and all about this very festive documentary

Miriam’s Dickensian Christmas on Channel 4 is inspired by what the star has read in A Christmas Carol.
Miriam’s Dickensian Christmas on Channel 4 is inspired by what the star has read in A Christmas Carol. (Image credit: Channel 4)

Miriam’s Dickensian Christmas on Channel 4 is a delight for those of us who like our festive season touched with some olde worlde magic. Despite her outwardly jolly nature and love of all things Charles Dickens, Miriam Margolyes is a self-confessed Scrooge who avoids the season altogether and only eats sandwiches on Christmas Day! 

But for her latest TV treat, the Harry Potter and Call the Midwife actress attempts to ignite a love of the festive season by immersing herself in the traditions that Charles Dickens (opens in new tab) introduced in A Christmas Carol (opens in new tab). That means throwing her very first Yuletide party, having a go at cooking a traditional Victorian Christmas dinner, and visiting Great Ormond Street Hospital, one of the beneficiaries of Dickens’s charity work, where she learns the true meaning of Christmas.

Here Miriam, now 81, gives us the lowdown on Miriam’s Dickensian Christmas on Channel 4 and what the season means to her…

For the first time ever, Miriam tries carol singing at a party!

For the first time ever, Miriam tries carol singing at a party!  (Image credit: Channel 4)

Miriam’s Dickensian Christmas air date

Miriam’s Dickensian Christmas will be shown on Tuesday December 20 on Channel 4 at 9pm before the show is released on streaming service All4. It will be an inspiring part of Christmas TV in 2022! 

Interview: Miriam Margolyes on what happens in Miriam’s Dickensian Christmas

You say you’re a self-confessed Scrooge. So why do you dislike Christmas?
Miriam says: "It’s too commercial, it starts too early and is pushed too hard. And whenever there’s any kind of pressure being jolly, I immediately feel cantankerous and ill tempered. There’s also so much pressure at Christmas time when families who don't like each other are forced to get together and buy presents that they can't afford. Having said that, the essence of eating a meal with friends and people you like is gorgeous." 

What were your Christmases like as a child growing up in a Jewish household?
Miriam says: "My parents weren’t Orthodox Jews but my father really disliked Christmas and he wouldn't entertain the idea of having a Christmas tree or any decorations. But my mother, who was a very generous person, believed we should think about people who don’t have family. That meant we used to have a lot of lonely misfits come to ours for Christmas lunch. As I remember it, it was about food and kindness."

Do you mark Christmas Day now?
Miriam reveals: "We absolutely don’t! My partner, Heather, and I we make no concessions to Christmas whatsoever. We might have sandwiches and phone up friends, but otherwise it’s just another day. We refuse to be bamboozled by Christmas and all the hectic entertaining and present buying. The one tradition I do like, though, is pantomimes and my friend Bobby Crush is going to be in Aladdin at Esher Theatre this year, so that will be fun!

What do you love about Charles Dickens and why has A Christmas Carol has had such an enduring appeal?
Miriam says: "For a lot of people Dickens is a slightly scary, distant idea. But for me, he's a real presence in my life and a force for good. He wanted us all to sharpen our moral sense about Christmas and A Christmas Carol teaches us that there’s a potential for goodness in all of us. It’s a wonderful story, it’s funny, the prose is majestic and the characters are great. There’s a slightly scary ghost story as part of it, but there's also a real feel good element, too.

What did you enjoy most about making this show?

Miriam reveals: "I'm not into anything domestic, but I had such fun learning to cook the traditional Victorian Christmas lunch, although we also made mock turtle soup, which I didn’t like at all! The Christmas party was great, too, because one of my guests was Gerald Dickens, the great grandson of Charles Dickens, and he treated us to a reading, which was wonderful. But I really found it particularly moving visiting Great Ormond Street. I hadn't quite realised how magnificent Dickens had been in helping to fund the hospital and raising money for it. It was a project very dear to his heart. I was very impressed by what goes on there, so much so that I said I’d be an ambassador for them."

Has the experience of filming Miriam’s Dickensian Christmas changed your mind about Christmas?
Miriam says: "I honestly don’t think so. I mean I’m 81 now and I’m stuck in my ways. So I won't observe Christmas, but I hope that some of the things that we touch on in the programme resonate with people. And it cheers people up, then I’m all in favour of it!"

Making a Victorian-style mock turtle soup.

Making a Victorian-style mock turtle soup.  (Image credit: Channel 4)

Is there a trailer for Miriam’s Dickensian Christmas?

Sadly there's no trailer for Miriam’s Dickensian Christmas released by Channel 4, so you'll have to grab a mince pie and watch Miriam in action.

Nicholas Cannon
TV Content Director on TV Times, What's On TV and TV & Satellite Week

I'm a huge fan of television so I really have found the perfect job, as I've been writing about TV shows, films and interviewing major television, film and sports stars for over 25 years. I'm currently TV Content Director on What's On TV, TV Times, TV and Satellite Week magazines plus Whattowatch.com. I previously worked on Woman and Woman's Own in the 1990s. Outside of work I swim every morning, support Charlton Athletic football club and get nostalgic about TV shows Cagney & Lacey, I Claudius, Dallas and Tenko. I'm totally on top of everything good coming up too.

With contributions from