Christmas is the time of year to recognise those that bring you joy by picking out the perfect gift to put a smile on their face on Christmas Day. Of course, you make sure your family members are on the list, as are your friends, but is there someone you are forgetting? What about those folks who toil away on screen and on stage throughout the year? What should you buy for Lancastrian celebrities this Yuletide?
Here is Northern Life’s essential guide to the sorts of presents that would fit in perfectly underneath the trees in the homes of the great and good of showbiz Lancashire.
Robert Smith from The Cure
Although Robert Smith’s band The Cure are more associated with their emergence from the outskirts of London, the lead singer of the goth-rock outfit was in fact born in Lancashire. Smith lived in Blackpool for the first few years of his life before the family headed down south, but that’s more than enough to claim him as Lancastrian, thus making him eligible for the celebrity Christmas gift list.
The ideal present for renowned miserablist Robert would be a diary in which the window for noting down the activities planned for Fridays are noticeably larger than the other six days. As Smith himself sang on the Cure’s 1992 hit, “I don’t care if Monday’s blue, Tuesday’s grey and Wednesday too, Thursday I don’t care about you, it’s Friday I’m in love”.
For someone who prizes the fifth day of the week so highly, a customised diary is a great way to thank Blackpool’s Robert Smith for his contribution to popular culture.
“he can’t afford another incident like the one in 2007”
Andrew Flintoff has made that tricky transition from top sports person to television presenter and taken to it like a duck to water. With a stint on A League of Their Own after his retirement from cricket, he has now started to anchor shows such as the bizarre Cannonball and the BBC’s prestigious Top Gear.
The Preston lad is also a regular on reality shows, having won the first series of the Australian version of I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here and signed up for the next season of Dancing on Ice.
For his Christmas gift, we might have to look back further into his past to see what he might need. With so many commitments in his diary, he can’t afford another incident like the one in 2007, when he fell off a pedalo on a boozy night out in the middle of the Cricket World Cup. On that occasion he took to it slightly less like a duck to water according to reports. Your ideal present for Andrew Flintoff this Christmas? A lifejacket.
Another celebrity whose early days were spent in Blackpool before making the move down south is Zoe Ball. The television host turned radio presenter has blazed a trail in her career of choice, becoming the first female DJ on both the Radio 1 and Radio 2 breakfast shows. She is currently the anchor of the latter, as well as a regular presenter on the Strictly spinoff show, It Takes Two.
This means early mornings and late nights for our Zoe, so we need to think of something to help her out when the tiredness kicks in. The perfect present would be those glasses with a picture of open eyes over the lenses. That way, she could grab 40 winks during a boring planning meeting without anyone realising she is kipping. Perfect.
Interestingly, her dad, 80s kids’ TV favourite Johnny Ball, is the opposite of Zoe and Robert Smith. He was born down south, but grew up in Bolton. For his stocking, how about one of those clicker things that bouncers use to count people going into a club? That way, the star of Think of a Number could literally own all of the numbers. Perfect.
Professor Brian Cox
Professor Brian Cox has risen from the stage of Top of the Pops, playing keyboard for slightly ropey 90s electronic outfit D:Ream to filling arenas across the country and the rest of the world, talking about the wonders of science.
Cox was born in Oldham and brought up in Chadderton (let’s not get into the Lancashire/Greater Manchester quandary here) and is recognised for popularising physics and cosmology, making truly complex ideas understandable for the general TV viewer at home.
He is known for his fiercely inquisitive mind, his encyclopedic knowledge, his raw passion for his subject, but also for his perfectly coiffed barnet. With that in mind, why not splash out on some decent conditioner for the Prof this Christmas. None of your cheap stuff, mind.
Sarah Lancashire is one of the most popular and talented actors on our TV screens. She was born and brought up in Oldham, and landed her big TV break in the North West’s very own Coronation Street, playing the hilarious and well-loved Raquel, who worked with and later married Curly Watts in the show.
It is always a risk to leave such a popular soap, but Sarah’s career has gone from strength to strength. Firstly a major role in Where the Heart Is, then Last Tango in Halifax and, among many other top parts, the lead in Sally Wainwright’s Happy Valley. There is only one issue with all of these prestigious roles for an avid Lancastrian fan of Sarah’s work. They are all set in Yorkshire. You may now clutch your pearls.
Yes, one of Lancashire’s brightest exports, an actor so Lancastrian that it forms her actual name, is well and truly established in TV shows filmed over the border. Is this what the Wars of the Roses were fought for?
This means that the present you need to buy Sarah Lancashire is simple. A road atlas with the route back from Yorkshire to Lancashire prominently and brightly highlighted.