I have to admit - as someone who quite generally has a limited tolerance for popular culture - that "The Muppet Christmas Carol" is one of the three best adaptations of the story I have seen.

For many years, it was a tradition in our family for my mother to read the story aloud, a Stave at a time, in the days leading up to Xmas, and I still read it every year - it being something of a favourite.

The first filmed version I ever saw was the 1951 film starring Alastair Sim as Scrooge with his protege George Gole playing younger Scrooge. Sims' fussy, crabbed, deceptively soft-spoken version of the character didn't quite match my idea of Scrooge, but his performance is still mesmerising.

The other worthwhile one is the 1999 version starring Sir Patrick Stewart. Now Stewart couldn't turn in a bad performance with a gun to his head, of course. Some have found his reading of Scrooge as a typical, hard-headed, workaholic Victorian man of business to be lacking, but it strikes me that this was the very class of person Dickens was taking aim at in the original. A man who has developed the habits of frugality, caution and hard work to the level of obsession as a reaction to the risky nature of life in general, and in doing so has lost sight of empathy and pleasure, even for himself.

What Caine brings to the role that no other actor does is a sense of physical presence. His Scrooge is not only tyrannical and mean-spirited, but also formidable-looking, a man who casts a shadow. Not only that, but Dickens, a man who often delved into the grotesque, would have been delighted by the Muppets. Few human actors can exemplify Everyman in quite the way Kermit the Frog does, and the figure of 'Fozziwig' is quite the best rendition of Dickens' original creation I have ever seen!

Snapper-up of unconsidered trifles, walker of paths less travelled by. Advocate-in-Ordinary to His Satanic Majesty.

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