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Wednesday, December 23, 1998 Published at 12:30 GMT

The BBC's real Christmas Carol

Carol Smillie and Changing Rooms' Andy Kane: Prime-time at Christmas

Carol Smillie's Christmas Day on screen will be spent as she has spent much of 1998 - giving viewers' homes a new look in a Changing Rooms special.

A few years ago, it would be unthinkable for a DIY show to be one of the highlights of the BBC's seasonal schedule but the programme's success has prompted schedulers to Carol and her team a prime-time spot for a special from the Isle of Arran.

But decoration will be the last thing on her mind off the screen - because she'll be too busy keeping her family in check at home in Glasgow.

"I'll be spending a very traditional Christmas at home with my parents, my husband's parents and a few other relatives who'll be coming up to stay," she says.

It's a prospect she is looking forward to, but she know's it not always going to be easy.

'We'll all be at each other's throats'

[ image: Winning Rear of the Year with Frank Skinner]
Winning Rear of the Year with Frank Skinner
"Everything's going to go wrong. Though we love each other dearly we'll all be at each other's throats - but I defy any family to say differently."

Even though the festive season brings its stresses, Carol is hooked on a family Christmas - because it marks a double celebration in the Smillie household.

"I never want to be away at Christmas, my birthday's at Christmas too - on December 23rd. It's really important I'm at home. New Year doesn't matter, but Christmas is really important.

"Everyone always it must have been difficult when I was a child because I must only have had one present instead of two, but I don't remember that at all. And I never had to be at school then, so it had its advantages."

Appropriately enough for the host of a programme about home decoration, her favourite Christmas present was a Wendy house.

"When I was about seven or eight we had this tradition where we stood outside the lounge and we all had to go in with our eyes shut.

"I'd seen my father had moved the sofa out of the lounge where all the presents were and I thought: "Oh my God, there's so many presents he's moved the furniture out of the room!

"It turned out he'd bought a Wendy house and he'd put it up in the lounge, which was so exciting then. It was amazing - it was the most wonderful thing in the house.

"If I bought my daughter a Wendy house she'd go, 'What's that? And no interior designer inside?'"

Working on New Year's Eve

[ image: Edinburgh Castle: Scene of the BBC's Hogmanay special]
Edinburgh Castle: Scene of the BBC's Hogmanay special
Once Christmas is over Carol - who also presents the midweek lottery show - will be back at work preparing for BBC One's Hogmanay show New Year Live, which she hosts live from Edinburgh Castle with Fred MacAulay.

"It's my third year doing it. It's hard work and it's such great fun to work on. It's just one big street party.

"Hogmanay isn't such a priority for me. My husband's a restauranteur so he works then comes back early. When you've got children as young as we've got, it's impossible to get babysitters. So we just work it."

But does she fancy doing the job for the Millennium next year?

"I'd like to think I'd be needed but it's too far away. I don't mind doing it, it's just another new year really - if I haven't blown myself out of a job by saying that!"

As well as the success of Changing Rooms, one of her other triumphs in 1998 saw her scoop the Rear of The Year alongside comedian Frank Skinner.

But it's not going to her head.

"It's funny, it's a good laugh. I'll try not to make it change my life. But Frank Skinner's rear is definitely better - it's less obvious than mine."

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