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What a cracking Christmas thanks to these tasty treats

Did you enjoy the festive telly this Christmas? I certainly did, and here are my top three TV favourites of 2010. In third place: Nigella Kitchen. I've had mixed feelings about cookery queen Nigella's TV offerings in the past, thinking her superbly-styled programmes relied too heavily on the abundant use of fairy lights.

But nowadays I think Nigella is simply the best thing since sliced bread. She's 50 years old and, in my opinion, the best looking girl on British television.

She's got curves in all the right places and she eats proper meals and she smiles a lot. She's articulate and clever and funny. And she's not yet taken to wearing hot-pants like so many other celebrity females have, thank the Lord.

And as for the fairy lights - this Christmas I decided to drape my 1980s chalet bungalow in loads of kitsch illuminations and they did really brighten up the wintry days.

Even an average home like mine can look magical and bohemian with many lights twinkling and pretty baubles dangling.

I also bought a couple of Nigella's books and tried out some of the simpler recipes and they turned out beautifully.

Even looking at the photographs was uplifting as the retro-styling reminded me of my gran's home cooking back in the 1970s.

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In second place: The Royle Family.

I love this show. The writing is just the right mix of farce, whimsy, reality and poignancy.

There's exhausted matriarch Barbara up to her eyes in household chaos as usual while slothful husband Jim watches the telly and complains a lot.

There's bone-idle daughter Denise and her husband Dave; both of them as dim as a five-watt-bulb. They're married with children now, but they've never really grown up. And there's poor Cheryl from next door, still comfort eating in the corner.

The wallpapering was never finished in the Royle dining room, feisty Nana and neighbour Mary have passed away and son Anthony has split from wealthy Emma and set up home with kindly nurse Saskia.

The older I get, the more I realise that the characters in The Royle Family are very true-to-life. The country is full of exhausted matriarchs, grumpy old men, lazy daughters and Romeo sons, and half-papered dining rooms.

People do set sauce bottles on the table on Christmas Day. I'm not sure if anyone out there actually has a Christmas tree that's five feet too tall for their sitting room ceiling, but maybe someone, somewhere out there has. It takes all sorts.

In first place: Benidorm. The Christmas special this year was flawless. There wasn't a naked beer belly in sight and thankfully the swingers kept their swinging antics behind closed doors.

Magnificent Madge swapped her mobility scooter for a mobile jacuzzi. Su Pollard put in a star turn as herself, singing show tunes to raise the taxi fare to a Christmas gig.

And when Madge's devoted husband Mel's death was announced via a phone call, against a background of Roy Wood rocking out his biggest hit, there wasn't a dry eye in the house.

I thoroughly enjoyed seeing a bit of Benidorm sun too.

I've almost forgotten what sunshine looks like, as this Arctic winter drags on and on and on.

So that was my Christmas - not very much different from the rest of my year. Writing a bit, pottering a bit and watching the telly for an hour or two every night.

But this winter has changed me. I used to think writing was a lonely station, but now I'm grateful I've no commute. I used to hanker after a double-fronted Victorian villa, but now I'm glad I live in a small, modern house with ugly double-glazing as it's easier to heat.

I used to wish I had room to host a big traditional family Christmas, but now I'm just happy everyone is safe and well, wherever they are.

I used to think the telly was dumbing down, but when you think about it, the telly only reflects us back to ourselves.

In every town in the land there's a character like Denise Best, who wouldn't help out in the kitchen if her mother's life depended on it.

There are blended families bickering over custody of the children. There are expats recreating a traditional British Christmas in sunny Spain.

I hope 2011 brings peace, joy and happiness to everyone.

And I hope nobody out there has the misfortune to bump into Tracy Barlow on New Year's Eve.

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