Winging its way to Channel 4, the brilliantly titled Mummy’s Big Christmas Do! – based in the 33-year-old’s Birmingham hometown – will serve up a one-off live entertainment extravaganza made up of special guests, musical performances, and stand-up comedy.
But in celebration of all things queer, it’s the specially invited audience made up of LGBTQ+ icons, allies of the LGBTQ+ community and local heroes who are set to be real stars of the show, the Brummie born consumer warrior vows.
But what else can Lycett (who identifies as pansexual) share ahead of his yuletide party?
TELL US ABOUT MUMMY’S BIG CHRISTMAS DO!
I’m amazed I got that name past them, to be honest! It’s kind of an amalgamation of different things that I love that have come together. I love live telly – particularly those shows of old, C4 shows like Big Breakfast and TFI Friday, SMTV Live, all of these shows that were anarchic and silly and fun. And I obviously love Birmingham and queer culture, so it’s a mash-up of those three things.
AND WITH BIRMINGHAM BEING YOUR HOMETOWN… MINIMAL TRAVEL?
I’ve always wanted to do something in Birmingham. One, I love the city, but mainly I just don’t want to travel and faff about getting on the train down to London. There’s a lot of great talent here and a lot of great people here. But I saw this tweet from a producer at the start of the year, talking about how he’d love to work on a big queer, LGBT show that celebrates all the different elements of our culture… So the show came from discussing it with him, and this idea that I’ve had for a long time about (putting on) a live show from Birmingham.
DO YOU FEEL NERVOUS ABOUT THE UNPREDICTABILITY OF LIVE TV?
Live telly is notoriously difficult to do so it could be a complete mess, but that’s why I’m excited by it. There’s peril and that feeling of, ‘Oh, could lose the old career!’ I’m all pumped for that. But when things go wrong on live telly, that’s when it’s at its best. I think the worst thing that could happen is that it’s really good and slick, weirdly. Obviously, I want it to be really good, but if everyone is on their marks at the right time, and we all say everything at the right time, and everyone applauds, it’s all just a bit bland. It needs to feel like the wheels are off the thing slightly. That’s what I’m pitching for. That’s my aim, that it’s controlled chaos. We are very much trying for it to not be dull, but that’s the route where potentially getting cancelled comes from.
WHICH SPECIAL GUESTS CAN WE EXPECT TO SEE?
We’ve got a lot of the Drag Race gang, then drag queens that you won’t have seen on Drag Race but that are beautifully talented in different ways. We’ve got lots of the Huns that you might recognise who are going to pop up and do little things, we’ve got great music – Self Esteem will be opening the show, who is a gay icon. We’ve got John Whaite from Strictly, who I’m guessing will be doing a little bit of boogying, Jodie Harsh is our house DJ, then we’ve got lots of brilliant local queens, drag kings and people with stories. There’s going to be a Vogue ball with really talented Vogue dancers; we’ve got great comics like Rosie Jones, Suzi Ruffell, Bethany Black – and then there’s some surprise people that I can’t tell you about.
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR VIEWERS TO SEE DIVERSITY ON SCREEN?
It’s really important. When I was starting out, I did a lot of stand-up about sexuality, a lot of playing on camp, and I felt like, by and large, things were going in the right direction and that the community was progressing. But in the last few years it’s felt like some of those things have been pulled back, and that there’s politically and culturally some dangerous things being talked about in the media and elsewhere. When I was growing up my grandad said that if he knew any of his children were gay he would have killed them at birth – a very dramatic statement. Then he realised that I wasn’t straight, and he didn’t want to kill me, and that I was just a person, and he completely changed his viewpoint. That’s because he was exposed to someone who was the thing that he thought was this hellish thing and it was fine.
DO YOU THINK SHOWS SUCH AS THIS WILL CONTRIBUTE TO SUCH CHANGE?
I think TV and culture can do that in a big way, if you see people that you might have been told – by the press, or family, or your religion, or whatever – are these ‘evil monsters that are coming for your kids’, and you see that they’re just humans that are almost exactly like you but slightly different or dress in a different way. For me it’s important that it’s light-hearted. You want some of those stories that are very heart-warming and beautiful, but also it’s a funny show and it’s just showing you that these people are funny, silly and up for a laugh as much as anyone else and it’s not all serious and protesting.
THE AUDIENCE ARE A HUGE PART OF THE SHOW TOO…
Yeah, we’re looking for audience members from the queer community and allies (all are welcome) with great coming out stories, or things that have happened to them that are really positive and that we can celebrate. Like they started a great charity, or a queer book club, something interesting, but also people with talents that we can show off on the night. It can be as low level as being able to scream ‘Chanel’ and rescue a parrot, up to incredible dance moves. The audience are as an important part of it as anyone else.
IT SOUNDS LIKE A LOT OF FESTIVE FUN. ARE YOU A FAN OF CHRISTMAS?
That’s probably my least favourite thing – but it will be Christmassy. We’re doing a nativity, we’re doing some other Christmassy bits and bobs, there’s a naughty and nice list. Christmas, historically, I’ve not been a huge fan of. Usually my solace has been knowing that I can go down to the gay village of Birmingham and have a really good night out there. I suppose the queer culture at Christmas has always been my get out.
Live Joe Lycett: Mummy’s Big Christmas Do! will air on Channel 4 on Wednesday, December 22.