I can't say I'm fond of children's comedy. I'm probably the only comedy critic who isn't that fused on Horrible Histories, I don't watch CBBC and I've never watched CBeebies before in my life - until this week.
The Cow That Almost Missed Christmas, a one-off show on CBeebies, is a comic retelling of the nativity story. The story is told by animals in or visiting Bethlehem as Mary and Joseph arrive into town. Known that something big is happening around town, an excited cow called Marjorie (Isy Suttie) and her chicken friend Brian (Johnny Vegas) sneak away from their home to attend the 'big party'.
On first viewing, I tried to prevent my inner QI pedant from wanting to correct all the commonly held mistakes about the nativity story (the fact there wasn't a census; there were no animals present at the birth of Christ; there weren't three "kings" - they're wise men), but after getting all that under control, I really did enjoy it.
There's the visual humour - such as the sight of Brian the chicken wearing a leotard and a giant afro, and Mary's donkey playing cards while she is visited by the Archangel Gabriel - to the rather clever jokes. For example, the chickens insist their stable is a barn because it has both a manger and an outside loo. In another scene, Marjorie askes how far some weary travellers have come: "Rome? Alexandria? Milton Keynes?"
This may be on a small channel devoted to the under-fives, but The Cow That Almost Missed Christmas is a funny show that you can watch with everyone. Certainly worth a watch if you haven't seen it already.Ian Wolf, Giggle Beats, 24th December 2012
Written and illustrated by the team behind the bold, funny children's book The Cow That Laid an Egg, this animation tells the Christmas story through the big doe-eyes of Marjorie (Isy Suttie), a Bethlehem cow. She hears about a street party and sets off with a chicken called Brian (Johnny Vegas) to join the fun.Emma Sturgess, Radio Times, 19th December 2012