I FIRST learned about the Bronte sisters at a Hogmanay party when I was eight. A tipsy auntie told a joke about the well-read dinosaur called “Brontesaurus”, then promised me a copy of Jane Eyre. A novel written by a dinosaur, I thought? No thanks.

Then I read it, loved it, joined The Bronte Society and journeyed to Haworth to make my pilgrimage.

This drama tells the story of the strange and brilliant Bronte sisters and their pathetic brother, Branwell. Whilst his sisters wrote their way towards scandalous genius, Branwell fell into drink and drug addiction.

Anyone who has ever dismissed the Brontes as frilly lady writers will have that misconception whacked out of them tonight. This drama shows them as spiky, sulky, determined and humorous, especially the enigmatic and intimidating Emily who wrote Wuthering Heights.

Whilst the story focuses on the petulant waster, Branwell, with his destruction taking up the family’s money and attention, it only shows how talented his sisters were to keep writing despite the chaos he brought.


MY other choice for this evening’s viewing is Charlie Brooker’s Screen Wipe which is on BBC2 at 9pm, immediately prior to this, but as it’s made so close to transmission there are no previews available so I watched Cunk On Christmas instead.

Of course, Philomena Cunk is a creation of the brilliant Brooker, so from 9pm until 10.30pm the channel is devoted to his sarcastic genius. As it should be.

The gormless Cunk gives the viewer a survey of Christmas and tries to work out the meaning of it all.

She is ruthless in dismantling the religious aspects of the season. Indeed, when she wants somewhere quiet to film she chooses a church. There’s no chance that’ll be busy.

We also learn about Britain’s greatest Prime Minister, “Charles Dickings”, and she meets various historians to discuss past Christmas traditions. As ever, they seem sufficiently awkward that we’re never sure if they’re in on the joke.