TV Highlights

Stella Christmas Special

Sky1 - 9pm

Who's in it?

Ruth Jones' Stella and Patrick Baladi's Michael renew their beautiful (if slightly unlikely) relationship in this festive return to merry Pontyberry.

In a nutshell

We can all agree that mums are a good thing. But there's something teeth-gnashingly patronising about the way they tend to be depicted in TV shows and ads as saintly slaves: tirelessly tending to brattish kids and clueless man-child husbands, never complaining or getting anything wrong, communicating solely with wry comments and weary smiles. So what's wonderful about Stella is that it gives us a mum who can be a bit selfish sometimes, and get things very wrong. In other words, she's an actual person.

And she seems to have found her groove, with Michael as the man in her life and work going rather well as a nurse. But things get tricky in this Christmas special, when her career has to take priority and she forms a poignant bond with a terminally ill young boy. Yep, it's going to be a heart-tugger of an episode, although there'll still be a liberal helping of silly laughs – after all, it's time for Auntie Brenda's charity panto…

What's the verdict?

With the promise of Pontyberry's take on Cinderella, this looks set to be one of the warmest and funniest comedies on this Christmas. And as an added bonus, there's a full new series starting in the new year.

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07-07-2011