Former Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow is set to deliver this year’s Alternative Christmas Message on Channel 4. The Christmas Day broadcast at 2:25p UK time will run simultaneously with the traditional Queen’s speech on BBC One and ITV and will see the politician – who became an unintentional media personality through his sometimes fiery parliament oversight of all-things Brexit – present a message of democracy and civility.
In a year that has seen world become much more divisive in global and national politics, Bercow says: “All around the world, populism – and the promise of simple solutions to complex problems – has taken hold with a vice-like grip. Don’t get me wrong, it’s crucial for everyone to be free to say what they think and for politicians to respond. But democracy shouldn’t be about decibel levels.”
Speaking from a classroom at his children’s state secondary school, Bercow will also discuss the need to re-establish a “civility of discourse” in UK politics, and states that contrary to public perception, the majority of politicians are simply well-intentioned public servants, trying to do right by their constituents.
The royal tradition of a Christmas Day message began as the King’s Christmas Message in 1932 and the short address was an opportunity for the monarch to reflect on the year’s major events and the royal family’s personal milestones. While a majority of everyone’s attention has centered around the Queen’s speech every year since Queen Elizabeth II’s first televised speech in 1957 (her first was on Commonwealth radio in 1952, 11 months after King George’s death), Channel 4’s sometimes serious, sometimes humorous Alternative Christmas Message has aired every year since 1993.
The annual speech has featured a diverse list of presenters, beginning with Quentin Crisp (1993), the Reverend Jesse Jackson (1994) and Bridget Bardot (1995). Later years featured The Simpsons (2004), Jamie Oliver (2005), Ali G (2012), Edward Snowden (2013), Brendan Cox (2016) and children who survived the Grenfell Tower Disaster (2017). Last year’s speech was delivered by English actor, Danny Dyer.
Channel 4’s Alternative Christmas Message will air Christmas day at 2:25p (UK time).
In: Odds & Sods