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Peace and goodwill to all (except pigeons): John Lewis spreads the love with its Christmas advert | Television & radio

Clearly, there couldn’t be a normal John Lewis ad this year, because this has been anything but a normal year. There’s a pandemic on, no branches of John Lewis are actually open, and 1,500 of its staff were recently laid off. Indeed, if John Lewis had chosen to lavish millions of pounds on an avalanche of traditionally twee misery, there’s a strong chance that it would have qualified as an act of criminal negligence.

Instead, this year’s ad is more uplifting than we’ve come to expect. It features an original song – as opposed to a gloomy minor-key cover version of, say, I Like to Move It Move It – and consists of a montage of clips in which people are simply nice to each other. But are they really being as nice as everyone says? I’m going to rank the individual clips from worst to best in terms of basic human decency.

8. Although it pains me to say, the worst part of the John Lewis ad is also the first. A boy loses a ball in a tree. A pigeon sits next to the ball. Although we can see an intelligent twinkle in its eye, the pigeon chooses not to help retrieve the ball. It is the one act of overt malevolence in the entire advert, and it leaves such a stink that I demand the ad’s slogan be changed to: “John Lewis and Partners: All Pigeons are Arseholes.”

7. Although the pigeon represents the spirit of Deliberate Evil in the advert, the next bit is almost as bad. A girl retrieves the boy’s ball, and he goes home to find a semi-melted snowman flopped forlornly on his front lawn. And so, in an act of shocking incompetence, the boy ties the snowman to a balloon and watches it drift away aimlessly into the sky. Is that an act of kindness? Helping a needy stranger by hoisting them into the air where they will be at the mercy of nothing but wind and gravity? What if the snowman came down on an electrified train line? What if he was sucked into the engine of a passenger jet? Does that count as kindness now? I know 2020 has been rough, but really?

6. Luckily, the worst doesn’t happen. Instead, the snowman lands on a high street, where he finds a number of other snowmen standing next to a broken down car. How does he help? By literally ripping out his own guts and letting them use it as a wheel. Now, don’t get me wrong, this is absolutely gruesome on a genuinely visceral level. But what makes it worse is that the snowman gives them a heart-shaped wheel. Even though a circular snowball is easier to make. Even though it dooms the family for a queasy, bumpy ride all the way home.

5. This one is easy. It’s just an incompetent barber. Look at the state of that haircut. Schools are still open during the pandemic, so, if this was real life, that boy would 100% be beaten up by a pack of bullies the moment he walked through the gates tomorrow.

4. Oh God, it is real life. That poor child – didn’t ask for that haircut and now has to walk around looking like a cross between Anne Robinson and the Bride of Frankenstein. If there is any justice in the world, that box contains the severed head of the barber.

Uplifting … the John Lewis Christmas advert.

Uplifting … the John Lewis Christmas advert. Photograph: John Lewis and Partners/PA

3. Here’s a hedgehog who wants to be a pigeon even though, as we have already stated, pigeons are the living embodiment of the concept of evil. In the clip, the pigeons put the hedgehog in a plane so that he can experience the miracle of flight. After that? Who knows. They probably get him addicted to crack for fun.

2. Finally – finally – we have a true, happy, competent, selfless act of kindness. A girl breaks her glasses on a bus. A woman fixes them. That’s all. It’s simple and beautiful and lovely, and in retrospect should have probably formed the entirety of this nightmare commercial. But wait! What’s this? Is it? It is!

1. It’s the return of Moon Hitler! Remember Moon Hitler? The lonely old man from the 2015 John Lewis advert, who was banished to the depths of space for committing a still unknown atrocity on Earth, is back! And he’s back on Earth, still lonely and still being spied on by strangers. You’re free now, Moon Hitler! Redemption is possible! Now go and give a little boy the very worst haircut in all of history, you old scamp. Merry Christmas!

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