GRUMPY guests, questionable party snacks, daft parlour games and a last-minute surprise invite are among the festive mishaps and mayhem packed into the Christmas special of the BBC Scotland sitcom Two Doors Down.

This year Michelle and Alan – played by Joy McAvoy and Grado aka Graeme Stevely – have invited their fellow neighbours of Latimer Crescent round for a sophisticated soiree. But any hopes of a civilised evening disappear faster than Santa polishing off a plate of mince pies.

Elaine C Smith stars as the bold Christine, with Arabella Weir and Alex Norton playing long-suffering Beth and Eric. Doon Mackichan and Jonathan Watson continue their sublime double act as Cathy and Colin, while Jamie Quinn plays Ian, alongside Kieran Hodgson as his partner Gordon.

Here, Smith and McAvoy share their own best – and worst – Christmas moments, as well as the real-life drama that unfolded while filming the episode.

What was it like filming the Two Doors Down Christmas special?

Elaine C Smith: It was a great laugh because it was the first episode that we shot from the new series. It felt joyous to be back. We filmed it in the summer and there was something nice about all the Christmas decorations being up.

Joy McAvoy: I had so much fun. Everything was Christmassy with trees and fake snow. It is such a funny episode and there was one point I got the giggles for about 20 minutes and held up filming.

My character Michelle is so eager to please and get on well with everyone. She has organised a Christmas party thinking it will bring all the neighbours together. Even though Michelle is shot down every time and Cathy can be so mean to her, she keeps trying. God love her.

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The standout for me was the last scene of the episode, which is such a sweet moment. I was pregnant when we shot it. During filming my waters broke early – I was nearly 36 weeks pregnant – and I was kept in hospital for 48 hours in case I went into labour.

When I was cleared to leave the hospital, I asked the doctors for a permission slip to go into work for a few hours because we were filming the ending of the Christmas episode.

We managed to shoot the final scene as planned, then a little over a week later, my son Jamie was born. Watching the Christmas episode will be special and quite emotional, I think.

Which of the show’s characters would you invite for Christmas dinner and who would be barred?

Smith: Christine would only invite Beth, but Beth would have to cook and bring the food with her. She would probably bar Eric because there is a secret sub-plot, I think, where Christine wants Beth all to herself and Eric is an annoyance.

Christine would perhaps have Michelle over too, but men annoy her – and she certainly wouldn’t have Cathy anywhere near her house.

As for me? I would invite everyone in the cast because they are all pals. The actual characters? Maybe Beth and Eric, perhaps the boys, Ian and Gordon, because they wouldn’t cause too much trouble. Cathy and Colin would be hellish. Possibly Michelle, but Alan annoys me.

HeraldScotland: Two Doors Down Christmas Special 2021 starring Joy McAvoy and Graeme Stevely aka Grado. Picture: Alan Peebles/BBC StudiosTwo Doors Down Christmas Special 2021 starring Joy McAvoy and Graeme Stevely aka Grado. Picture: Alan Peebles/BBC Studios

McAvoy: I am probably like Michelle in that I would have them all round – I wouldn’t bar anyone on Christmas Day.

Then I would sit back and watch the magic happen. I would be topping up Cathy’s drinks and watching her get wilder and wilder. She would be a great party guest, but you would want to stay out of the line of fire of her comments and takedowns.

Do you have any festive traditions?

Smith: Pantomime. I am in the dressing room of the King’s Theatre in Glasgow as we speak. I have two shows on Christmas Eve and two shows on Boxing Day, so Christmas Day is my day off.

I have been doing panto for many years now and the entire family – my sisters and their families, my daughters, their husbands and my granddaughter – all come to the last show on Christmas Eve.

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I love it because we all sing Jingle Bells. The sound of 2,000 people, including kids you could scrape off the ceiling, singing Jingle Bells for Santa coming is one of the most joyous things you will ever hear.

McAvoy: I don’t have any traditions as such, but when I was younger every single Christmas was spent at my grandparents’ house and all the family would go. Sometimes there would be 25 people round for Christmas dinner.

We would take all of the furniture out of their living room. There would be a big table with a wallpaper pasting table tacked on the end for the younger ones. I would love to go back to those days. Those are my favourite memories of Christmas.

Best childhood present from Santa?

Smith: A Tressy doll. She was like a Sindy doll, but you pressed her tummy and her hair grew. I thought that was magical. I got a Petite Typewriter the same year. I remember that vividly. I must have been about eight or nine.

When I was older, I got a row from my mum for telling my wee sister that the presents were hidden behind the wardrobe, and we were each getting a dressing gown and a big Spanish doll. In those days, you got a leathering and were told Santa wasn’t coming. I blew the surprise.

HeraldScotland: Two Doors Down Christmas Special 2021 starring Jonathan Watson and Elaine C Smith. Picture: Alan Peebles/BBC StudiosTwo Doors Down Christmas Special 2021 starring Jonathan Watson and Elaine C Smith. Picture: Alan Peebles/BBC Studios

McAvoy: I will tell you the best story ever. I must have been about seven or eight and really, really wanted this huge walking, talking doll. I thought it was amazing.

My mum said we didn’t have enough money to buy it and it was too big a present for Santa to bring. I remember it being the only thing I wanted but understood we couldn’t afford it.

We were in Clydebank shopping centre and there was a raffle that had the walking, talking doll I wanted as a prize. I begged my mum to let us enter. It was 50p for a ticket. On Christmas Eve they called us to say we had won it.

My grandad drove us down to Clydebank shopping centre and we picked up this big doll. I wished for it, we couldn’t afford it and then I won it in a raffle. I feel that was my bit of Christmas magic. It was gorgeous and I will never forget it.

Biggest disappointment on Christmas Day?

Smith: I’m from a normal, working-class family and we didn’t have a lot of money, but I never felt disappointed on Christmas Day, which is a lovely thing to remember from your childhood. We didn’t have huge Christmas lists. You asked for a couple of things and everything else was a surprise.

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McAvoy: I was always easily pleased. I loved waking up on Christmas morning and eating chocolate or getting the wee, old-fashioned stocking with a tangerine and monkey nuts inside.

What is your favourite Christmas food?

Smith: Roast parsnips with honey glaze. My husband hates parsnips. He would eat potatoes to a band playing, as my mother would say, but for me, it is parsnips. I also enjoy Brussels sprouts with bacon.

In our family, whoever is hosting makes the main course. Someone will bring the starters, such as smoked salmon, prawn cocktail or tomato mozzarella salad, then someone else will bring the pudding. That way it is spread out among everyone.

We all muck in. Whoever’s house it is does the turkey. My sister’s mother-in-law makes brilliant dauphinoise potatoes, so she always brings a tray of that. It is the only day I really drink during the whole time because I am doing the panto shows. A French martini on Christmas Day is nice.

HeraldScotland: Two Doors Down Christmas Special 2021 starring Arabella Weir and Alex Norton. Picture: Alan Peebles/BBC StudiosTwo Doors Down Christmas Special 2021 starring Arabella Weir and Alex Norton. Picture: Alan Peebles/BBC Studios

McAvoy: Gravy. Brussels sprouts. A good slice of turkey. When we were younger my grandparents did all the cooking. They were the best cooks.

I still don’t know what we are doing this year. Most of my family is in Scotland. My brother [actor James McAvoy] is round the corner from me in London. My husband Geoff’s family are in Kent.

Two years ago, I was in Aberdeen doing panto, so I didn’t have my big family Christmas and last year with Covid we didn’t get our big family Christmas either. Whatever we do there will be fairy lights everywhere because that’s my favourite thing. Lots of good food. And bubbles all day.

Any festive faux pas or disasters?

Smith: Only things like: “Oh, the potatoes might take a bit longer because I forgot to put them on …” But no huge disasters. Mainly because my husband Bob looks after the cooking. Because I am working, he says: “No, you sit down, we will do it.”

I set the table, that’s my thing. I do the Christmas table for everybody if they are at our house and there is usually about 14 of us. My grandmother always set a beautiful table. She was from the Victorian era and would set a table with napkins, the right knives, matching plates and candles.

Last year my sister had bought a turkey for Christmas Day and a big lasagne to eat on Boxing Day. The turkey was within the use-by date – it said December 27 – but when she opened the packaging, it had gone off. So, they all had lasagne for Christmas dinner.

McAvoy: I can’t think of any, but I am sure there is plenty of time to mess up. In the past, I have been lucky because I have gone to family for Christmas. Since we have a wee family now, this might be the first year I do a big spread myself.

HeraldScotland: Two Doors Down Christmas Special 2021 starring Elaine C Smith and Joy McAvoy. Picture: Alan Peebles/BBC StudiosTwo Doors Down Christmas Special 2021 starring Elaine C Smith and Joy McAvoy. Picture: Alan Peebles/BBC Studios

What dream gift would you like to find under the Christmas tree?

Smith: It sounds trite but to have come through the last couple of years, to get my Covid booster recently and to live in a society where that is available to keep people alive and protect each other, that is the real gift.

I feel incredibly blessed to have my seven-year-old granddaughter Stella. She is the light in our lives. Stella was my mum’s name – it is lovely she is called after my mum.

Someone asked me, “what are you and Bob getting each other for Christmas?” and I said, “we have bought each other an island …”. They went, “Oh …” and I replied, “… for the kitchen”.

We got our kitchen done a couple of years ago. It was still missing something, so that is what we will get each other for Christmas this year. But it is not Mauritius. It is an island for the kitchen.

McAvoy: My wee boy is the best gift ever. I don’t have anything else I am wishing for. My grandad’s name was James and he got called Jamie when he was younger. My son is named after him. Sadly, a few weeks ago, my grandad passed away. I’m pleased we named Jamie after him.

Who would you love to have around the dinner table this Christmas?

Smith: My mum. She passed away 15 or 16 years ago at only 71. That would be joyous.

McAvoy: To avoid it getting too sad, if I was to pick a celebrity, it would be Marilyn Monroe. She is a legend. I find her fascinating. She played the ditzy roles but was intelligent and such a lovely person. I would love to have her round for dinner.

HeraldScotland: Two Doors Down Christmas Special 2021 starring Joy McAvoy and Graeme Stevely aka Grado. Picture: Alan Peebles/BBC StudiosTwo Doors Down Christmas Special 2021 starring Joy McAvoy and Graeme Stevely aka Grado. Picture: Alan Peebles/BBC Studios

Any Christmas TV traditions or favourite festive movies?

Smith: I will watch White Christmas if it is on. It makes me cry. Singin’ in the Rain. I could watch that every day. I love Elf too – that is a great Christmas film. Any Doris Day movie I am happy with. I’m a bit of a news junkie and love politics, but it is almost like I want the world to stop on Christmas Day.

The worst day coming to work is Boxing Day. We have two shows on Boxing Day and that is a killer because I want to be lying on the couch. You bring your leftover Christmas dinner with you, sit in the dressing room and watch a wee bit of telly between shows.

HeraldScotland: Two Doors Down Christmas Special 2021 starring Jonathan Watson and Joy McAvoy. Picture: Alan Peebles/BBC StudiosTwo Doors Down Christmas Special 2021 starring Jonathan Watson and Joy McAvoy. Picture: Alan Peebles/BBC Studios

McAvoy: The whole run up to Christmas Day, I am usually watching movies. Home Alone always gets me feeling Christmassy. I love It’s A Wonderful Life and Scrooged. Die Hard is one of my favourites. I know it isn’t very Christmassy, but it is a Christmas movie.

If I am not watching TV, I still like to have it on in the background with the top 40 Christmas songs playing. Mariah Carey is the best, obviously.

Will you be watching the Two Doors Down Christmas special?

Smith: I will record it and watch it later. We shot it all those months ago and I can’t remember most of it. What is wonderful about Christine is she feels so different from me.

In the two-year break between series, I lost three stone in weight. When we went back, I had to wear a fat suit, so taking that off feels like even more of a separation.

Christine has brilliant lines. I laugh out loud. I said to my daughter while watching an episode, “this is a good line” and she replied, “laughing at yourself enough there, mum?”.

HeraldScotland: Two Doors Down Christmas Special 2021: Arabella Weir, Alex Norton, Jamie Quinn, Kieran Hodgson, Doon Mackichan, Jonathan Watson, Elaine C Smith, Joy McAvoy and Graeme Stevely aka Grado. Picture: Alan Peebles/BBC StudiosTwo Doors Down Christmas Special 2021: Arabella Weir, Alex Norton, Jamie Quinn, Kieran Hodgson, Doon Mackichan, Jonathan Watson, Elaine C Smith, Joy McAvoy and Graeme Stevely aka Grado. Picture: Alan Peebles/BBC Studios

There is no filter with Christine. Two Doors Down is almost a comedy of manners where there is a polite way to deal with stuff, but she just doesn’t care. Christine doesn’t care what the men think of her because she is not interested. She is free.

I remember years ago Germaine Greer talking about the menopause and saying there was something liberating about being the woman in the wee fat coat and no longer trying to be sexually attractive. Christine has complete disdain for the male gaze because she thinks they are all idiots.

McAvoy: I will probably be in my house, tucked up, watching it with my husband and wee boy. The last couple of Christmas specials have been amazing.

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I was such a huge fan of Two Doors Down before I joined the cast. Getting to be part of a Christmas special and to play the host in this episode is a dream come true. I feel lucky.

Two Doors Down Christmas Special is on BBC Two, Monday, 9.30pm