Favorite UK Christmas Movies

As far as we’re concerned, any time is a good time to steep oneself in all things British, but Christmas is a particularly grand time to do so. While the US has produced many more, and more recent, Christmas movies, we thought we’d share some of our favorites from across the pond with you.

Scrooge (UK) or A Christmas Carol (US) – The 1951 Alastair Sim version remains the best version of Charles Dickens’s yuletide tale. The film also features Kathleen Harrison as Mrs. Dilber, Scrooge’s charwoman, and George Cole as a young Scrooge. Hermoine Baddeley plays Mrs. Cratchit. Now a Christmas staple, it was slated to premiere stateside at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall, but theatre management thought the film was too grim and somber and did not possess enough family entertainment value to warrant an engagement at the Music Hall. The fact that it was filmed in black and white gives a period feel. The film stands out because of its perfect balance of dark and light, which is what Dickens intended in his ghost story of misery, terror, loneliness and redemption, all serving to draw the viewer into the authentically bleak world of London during the early Industrial Revolution. You can buy it here.

Of course, one feels honour bound to now mention Blackadder’s Christmas Carol.

Leave it to the Blackadder crew to put their own spin on the Christmas classic. In this version, Scrooge is the nicest and most generous man going. Until the spirit of Christmas shows him the future and shows Scrooge that his goodness will play havoc upon his descendents, who will wind up as slaves. Scrooge turns mean and soon manages to offend everyone, including Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. A website called
Black Adder Hall sums up the episode thusly: “Dickens’ classic tale of kindness, truth and virtue is completely mucked up and ruined by having a member of the Blackadder family involved. Stuffed with deeply horrid people (many of whom are gigantically fat) and groaning with cartloads of seasonal bottom jokes, it manages to squeeze in not only a Victorian Black Adder but also his famous Elizabethan, Regency and Space Age relatives into a huge pie of entertainment that will satisfy all but the most discriminating viewers.”

Love Actually – This feel-good movie follows the lives of eight couples in London during a frantic month before Christmas. Though vastly different, their stories are interwoven in love, lust, and luck. Everywhere you look, love is causing chaos. From the new bachelor Prime Minister who falls in love 30 seconds after entering Downing Street, to a loser sandwich delivery guy who doesn‘t have a hope with the girls in the UK, so heads for Wisconsin; from a jilted writer who escapes to the south of France to nurse his broken heart to an aging rock star trying to make a comeback at any price; from a bride having problems with her husband‘s best man to a married woman having trouble with her husband; from a schoolboy with a crush on the prettiest girl in the school to his architect step–father with a crush on Claudia Schiffer. These London lives and loves collide, mingle and finally climax on Christmas Eve with romantic, poignant and funny consequences for all. That’s really all the plot line you need since the film stars Alan Rickman, Rowan Atkinson, Hugh Grant and Colin Firth and Emma Thompson. Ho, ho, ho.

Hope and Glory – The following well written synopsis is from a website called Rotten Tomatoes – “John Boorman’s 1987 epic written and directed by John Boorman (Deliverance, The General) serves as a picaresque and semi-autobiographical remembrance of a boy’s coming of age during the Second World War. Exhibiting a defiant and humorous take on life during the London blitz, the family of the young boy at the center of the story (Sebastian Rice-Edwards) is a close-knit and resilient bunch, undeterred in the face of the war and reveling in each other even as they hide from the incessant bombing. To be sure, there are some poignant moments in this childhood reminiscence. The boy’s mother (Sarah Miles) serves as a strong influence in the boy’s life as she leads her family through this tumultuous time. The majestic sweep of the film is contrasted with so many comic moments as the people in town go about the mundane details of their daily lives yet also engage in the most absurd rituals in dealing with the onslaught of German artillery, from taking the air raids for granted to wearing gas masks at school. Boorman doesn’t dwell on the horrors of war; instead he celebrates the richness and resilience of the people he remembers so fondly. An adventurous and nostalgic slice of life, Hope and Glory is a superb and memorable film.” Hope and Glory is worth watching for sheer atmosphere and period detail alone. The scene where the family and their guests are gathered around the wireless in order to hear the King’s Christmas speech and are urging the monarch past each stammer is priceless.  

Bridget Jones’s Diary –  Yes, I know we watch this one all year round, but at Christmas we’ll pay extra attention to Colin Firth’s sweaters. Go on . . . put on your comfy pj’s and I’ll make the cocoa . . . . right then, pop in the disk . . . . Jeez, I can’t wait till the fight scene – “Shall I bring my dueling pistol or sword?” too funny!  . . . Ready? It all began on New Years day, in my 32nd year of being single. Once again I found myself on my own and going t
o my mother’s annual turkey curry buffet. Every year she tries to fix me up with some bushy-haired, middle-aged bore and I feared this year would be no exception
. . . . .

Merry Christmas Mr. Bean – O . . M . . . G . . . have you ever seen anything as funny as Mr. Bean’s turkey!? Okay, we’re cheating by including these as they aren’t full length movies, they’re episodes, but they’re hysterical. You can watch the bit with the turkey here and a bit where Mr. Bean goes Christmas shopping here. Keep an eye out for Teddy!

Have we missed any of your favourite Yuletide flicks? Suggestions? Let us know.

Christmas Shopping in England – Part Three

Still don’t know what to get for a few people on your Christmas list? Not to worry, we’re here to help. Seeing as money is no object in the current economy (ha!), we thought we’d tempt you with luxuries that are sure to please any good little girl or boy at holiday time. Never mind Neiman Marcus and Tiffany’s, Number One London has put together it’s very own luxury gift catalogue. After all, one can dream . . . . . .

Red Letter Days offers a champagne flight for two over London for £299

After a short pre-flight briefing you’ll board a Piper Seneca twin-engine light aircraft for a fantastic half hour sightseeing trip. From take off in Essex you’ll follow the Thames west into the heart of the city, getting a view of the capital that most people only see on the opening titles of EastEnders. You’ll see the Millennium Dome, Tower Bridge, HMS Belfast, the towers at Canary Wharf, the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament, then turn north to fly over Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace and the royal parks, before heading back east to land in Essex. You’ll get an amazing perspective on the geography of the city and a bottle of champagne to enjoy once back on terra firma.

Rent Castle Moat House from Historic UK £974 – £2334 Per Week
This unique and wonderful turreted castle, dating from 1550 and brought up to date with great style, boasts luxurious and extremely spacious accommodation with romantic appeal. Divided into two dwellings in the last century and Grade II listed, its orignal leaded light windows, stone mullions, panelling and decorated ceilings are delightfully complemented by many pieces of craftsman built new furniture and contemporary soft furnishings and lighting. Enjoying views over the moat to surrounding woodland, Castle Moat House offers great tranquillity yet lies close to many places of interest and activity.

Visit Bath – On the Orient Express

Bath on the British Pullman – From US$530 per person

Travel from Victoria London to the historic city of Bath a la Hercule Poirot. The trip includes Brunch with Bellini on outward journey, guided tour, four course dinner with champagne and wine on return journey.
On arrival at Bath you will be met by guides who will accompany you on a coach tour of this delightful city taking in the sights of the city and the famous Roman Baths and Pump Room. There will be a little free time for you to explore Bath on your own or, alternatively, you may prefer to spend the whole time in Bath at your leisure.

Give Them a Dip in London’s Only Rooftop Pool

Unique among London hotels, The Berkeley boasts a pool with stunning panoramic views across Knightsbridge and Hyde Park. Use of the pool is complimentary with the purchase of spa services. We suggest the Day Spa Indulgence package

4 hrs £375

Body Skin Preparation 25 mins

Comfort Touch Massage 85 mins

Berkeley Elegance Facial 55 mins

Eye Supreme 25 mins

Mini-manicure 30 mins


  When all else fails, there’s always Afternoon Tea at the Ritz – £39 per person


Smoked Salmon Sandwiches

Ham Sandwiches

Chicken Sandwiches

Cucumber Sandwiches

Mature Cheddar Cheese Sandwiches

Egg Mayonnaise and Cress Bridge Roll

Freshly Baked Raisin and Apple Scones with

Devonshire Clotted Cream and Strawberry Preserve

Assortment of Afternoon Tea Pastries

Ritz Chocolate Cake

Ho, Ho, Ho!

Christmas Shopping in England – Part Two

Still can’t decide on the perfect Anglophile Christmas gift? The gift of a subscription keeps giving throughout the year. Each time an issue arrives, your recipient will think of you. And the ease of giving a subscription may put an end to your shopping dilemna and some Fa-La-La-La back in your holiday outlook.

$29.95 for 6 issues per year
Learn more about our kings and queens, the heroes and villains, soldiers and statesmen who made our nation great. Join us as we visit castles and cathedrals, stately homes and gardens. Journey with us to proud cities and secret villages, rugged coastline and lush countryside. Listen in while we talk to dukes and designers, artists and actors, courtiers and craftsmen.
Each issue is packed with features that showcase the many beauties of BRITAIN, as well as suggestions about where to go, where to stay and what to see.

6 issues $21.95 per year

British Heritage magazine is the preferred choice to learn more of travel and life in England, Scotland and Wales, written for those who love Britain. This is a must-read for serious Anglophiles who want to know their way around Britain’s history and landscapes. Subscriptions make excellent gifts for anyone interested in travel and history of England.

$340 for 52 issues

The quintessential companion to countryside living. A weekly Country Life subscription will ensure that you can always enjoy the magnificent country properties across the United Kingdom – those for sale and those just to admire. You’ll see gardens that will make you green with envy, along with tips for your own. You’ll discover the topical issues affecting the countryside, and spend time appreciating the arts, antiques, field sports and the wonders of our wildlife.

$75 for 12 issues

Each issue is filled with articles on British history through the centuries, with features on architecture, the military, famous and little known people throughout history, recent historical finds, books and films.

$32.75 for 6 Issues

The English Home magazine bills itself as Celebrating the Essence of English Style. It’s so much more than a style or decorating magazine. Each issue, you’ll meet the owners of period homes and learn the stories behind their search for the perfect property, the renovation process, their hunt for furnishings and their trials and tribulations with building departments, contractors and English Heritage, who holds sway over renovation decisions involving Grade I, II and III listed properties.

Do you know someone who’s going to Britain this coming year? You can buy them tickets ahead of time on the VB website for London and UK attractions, as well as pre-purchase London TravelCards and BritRail Passes.

If your gift recipient lives outside the UK or is planning a holiday there, you can buy them a National Trust Touring Pass in advance. It will give them unlimited access to the houses, gardens and special places in the Trust’s care and provide free entry for 7 or 14 days. The passes are available in three formats: Admit One, Admit Two or a special National Trust Family Pass. You will also receive a free Great Ideas Guide and Map Guide to help them make the most of using the pass during their visit.

Christmas Shopping in England – Part One

Once again, Christmas is right around the corner and it’s time we Anglophiles made a crack at checking those names off our lists. After all, Harrod’s and Selfridge’s have had their Christmas Departments up and running since August (!?). While some of us can’t actually do our Xmas shopping in England, we’ve rounded up some fabulous items found on websites across Britain that would be perfect for gift giving – or keeping – and we’re bringing them to you early enough to take shipping times into consideration.

These lovely pillows from the Jan Constantine Collection can be found at Sugar and Spice Furnishings. Do be sure to browse for more English themed pillows on their site, as well as  for charming cottage-type decorative items.  
Or go directly to the Jan Constantine website for even more London themed gifts

Everyone needs a solar powered waving QEII figurine, available from Findgift.com, who also purveys Xmas ornaments and a wide range of other British themed goods.
At Thebritishshoppe.com you’ll find everything for the tea drinker on your list, including authentic Brown Betty teapots, sugar tongs and strainers.
Don’t forget the digestives!
The distinctly British motto on this apron from Decorative Things can be applied to tasks in the kitchen, as well as to life in general – Keep Calm and Carry On.

Or be very naughty and order yourself a tee that’s fit for a queen from Cafe Press
As every girl knows, the perfect handbag is a must, at Christmas or any time. Drop by Harrod’s and snap up this padded Union Jack Lips clutch by LuLu Guinness at a price just shy of four hundred pounds.  While you’re there, pick up this tin filled with biscuits in the shapes of iconic London landmarks.

If you want to make a larger splash, opt for the Mayfair Hamper below from Fortnum and Mason

At a cost of close to $500, you or your gift recipient will receive, among other things: Champagne Truffles, PicKadilly Blend Coffee, Gigantissimi Florentines,  Regent’s Blend Tea, Vintage Champagne, Claret Jelly, Pedro Ximenez Sherry, a bottle of St Emilion, a bottle of Sancerre Blanc, Goose Foie Gras en Gelée, 200g Valencay and Green’s Cheddar, all of which is of course presented in a traditional wicker basket.

At The Royal Collection Online Giftshop you can shop for items inspired by the Royals or by the various Palaces. There’s china inspired by the Great Exhbition . . . .
Grape scissors . . . . .

and books, videos and exhibition catalogues galore.
Booklovers on your list will be a snap to shop for with these suggestions, all available from the Signals catalogue.
For the Jane Austen lover . . .
The Jane Austen Collection Audios
It is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen’s novels are delicious read aloud. Sit back and listen to five great novels and a short story read by some of England’s top actresses: Joanna Lumley (Absolutely Fabulous), Belinda Lang (Inspector Alleyn), Anna Massey, and Harriet Walter. Set includes Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Emma, Northanger Abbey, and “The Watsons.” Abridged. 15 hours on 12 CDs in a compact box.
T-shirt or sweatshirt for the avid booklover
and one for the author in your life 

and finally, the absolutely perfect gift for everyone at Number One London –

Need even  more inspiration? Look for Part Two of our gift guide coming soon!