Westcountry hotelier Alex Polizzi is best known for presenting business-based programmes The Hotel Inspector and The Fixer. She’s now branching out with Alex Polizzi’s Christmas Fix, a one-off programme about making the most of the festive season.
Here, she chats about ramping up her decorations, the joys of Christmas morning bubbly, and why being a mum will always come first
WHAT IS CHRISTMAS FIX ALL ABOUT?
I’ve gone to see – I don’t know if you’d call them experts – but various ’proponents’ of the dark arts of Christmas who have encouraged me to really ramp up my decorations. I’m going all-out this year. I will also be wrapping presents, because I’ve been encouraged to find different ways of doing that, and basically just enjoying the whole period, the whole countdown, trying to be really, really organised, so nothing is left until the last minute.
HOW DID THE SHOW COME ABOUT?
I’m not quite sure how it came about! I’m bonkers about Christmas though. I come from a very big family. My mum is one of six, and I’m the eldest grandchild, so for 18 years of my life there were 40 of us at my grandparents’ house. Christmas was a very, very big deal. We all did Mass, then Christmas lunch, and then a bonkers opening of presents – as you can probably imagine with all those people. Christmas has always been rather a letdown since then, because that was like Christmas on steroids! And that’s what I want again – Christmas on steroids.
IS CHRISTMAS DIFFERENT WHEN YOU’RE GROWN UP?
Now I’ve got two kids, it’s really, really fun. I want to make it amazing, particularly for my five-year-old, who’s old enough to be wowed. But of course, I’m very OCD so the poor little thing is never allowed to dress a Christmas tree! She has her own little Christmas tree in her bedroom that she’s allowed to put all her stuff on, but I insist that only I am allowed to touch the main tree in the living room!
HAVE YOU FOUND IT DIFFICULT TO GET IN A CHRISTMASSY MOOD FOR FILMING?
No! I had 13 children to buy for – that includes my own children and my godchildren. Their presents are already wrapped, and having people in the house who know how to do all that makes you feel quite Christmassy.
WHAT’S THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE SHOW FOR YOU?
Talking to people whose job is to think about Christmas all year round. It’s mad. Imagine having to think about the next Christmas from January!
WHAT WILL CHRISTMAS DAY AT YOUR HOUSE BE LIKE?
Christmas at my house will start – as anyone with young children will know – at an unfeasibly early hour, and it’s only bearable with a glass of something sparkly in your hand at eight o’clock in the morning!
WHAT ARE THE BEST TIPS YOU’VE RECEIVED WHILE MAKING THE PROGRAMME?
Lots of things about how to decorate, and also how to get a bang for your buck. It’s also nice to be reassured that my attitude of ‘more is more’ does work at Christmas! There’s no way to be too vulgar at Christmas, is there? Layer it on, love, layer it on!
WILL YOU HAVE MUCH TIME OFF AT CHRISTMAS?
The great thing about my life is that I’m really busy when I’m working, but I can stop when it’s the holidays. I always take time off during my daughter’s school holidays, otherwise what’s it all about? When I’m not working, that’s my chance to just hang out, watch movies, bake cakes and stuff like that.
NEW YEAR – YOU’RE BACK WITH A NEW RUN OF THE FIXER. WILL IT BE THE SAME AS EVER?
We haven’t decided on all the businesses yet, but I’m so excited to be commissioned to do it again. It is interesting going up and down the country, seeing different businesses and industries.
HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHICH BUSINESSES TO TAKE ON?
It’s the channel and the production company who decide the businesses, but over the past two years, I’ve found what works best is taking on businesses that can still be viable. If it’s already bankrupt, and if there’s no money in the bank and the creditors are banging on the door, I’ve got very little leeway in anything.
DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING ELSE IN THE PIPELINE?
Another Hotel Inspector, I’m sure. But I like doing different stuff. I like doing the business stuff, but this Christmas thing was nice because I was doing something that isn’t quite as stressful. It is an enormous responsibility, advising people on their businesses. It’s obviously something I take on willingly, but their businesses are in a desperate state, and it’s scary for them.
AND YOUR DREAM PROJECT?
I have lots of dream projects. I could do a lot more crusading about certain things, but at the moment, I just feel incredibly lucky that I do a job I love, one that fits in with my primary commitment, which is as a mum.
DID YOU ALWAYS FANCY A TV CAREER?
No! If you’d said to me seven years ago, ‘you’re going to be on telly“, I’d have laughed at you. I was running hotels quite happily. But I think the reality is, you can’t be a part-time hotel manager. I worked every Christmas, I worked every weekend, and I don’t want to do that and have children. I had to stop it for that reason.
*Alex Polizzi’s Christmas Fix airs on Thursday, December 19, at 8pm on BBC Two.