Main content

Christmas Days with Jeanette Winterson, Mary Portas and writer Kamila Shamsie

Jeanette Winterson talks to Jenni about her new book, Christmas Days. Food memories, relationships, and why ghosts are so often associated with this time of year.

Jeanette Winterson, talks to Jenni about her new book, Christmas Days. We explore the history, magic, and difficulties of the festive period.
Food memories and feasting with friends and family - an eclectic mix including Mrs Winterson's Mince Pies, Jeanette's dad's Sherry Trifle, Shakespeare and Company's Chinese Dumplings and writer Kamila Shamsie's Turkey Biryani - which we'll be sampling in the studio.
Plus a look at relationships which are often in the spotlight during the holidays when fathers gather together. What happens when you change your partner and your sexual orientation at the same time. For many years both Mary Portas and Susie Orbach, were married to men before falling in love and later marrying women. Mary Portas and Jeanette (who is married Susie Orbach) discuss the complexities and joys of starting a new relationship with a woman when you're older. And why are ghosts so associated with this time of year.

Presented by Jenni Murray
Producer Beverley Purcell.

Available now

45 minutes


  • Jeanette Winterson on Christmas

    Duration: 10:31

  • Flexible Love

    Duration: 10:55

  • Food at Christmas

    Duration: 09:47

  • Ghosts at Christmas

    Duration: 10:28

Turkey biryani


500g Left-over turkey, diced (or if you want to start from scratch, roast a couple of turkey legs and then chop up the meat into cubes. The skin you can discard or devour as you choose — fowl skin never finds its way into Pakistani cooking.).

500g rice, only basmati will do. Please believe me on this point. (I use Tilda.)

2 large onions, chopped finely

1 tbs grated ginger

3 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tsp chilli powder (or more depending on your taste buds) or red chopped chilli

1 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp salt (can be adjusted, as can all ingredients here)

8 green cardamom pods

6  cloves

1 tsp whole black pepper

1 cinnamon stick

1 tbs coriander seed

3 medium tomatoes, diced

100ml milk (if feeling extravagant — and why not? — infuse a little saffron in the milk when you start preparing the biryani

a handful of large raisins (optional)

a  handful of cashew nuts (optional)


Role Contributor
Presenter Jenni Murray
Producer Beverley Purcell
Interviewed Guest Jeanette Winterson
Interviewed Guest Mary Portas
Interviewed Guest Kamila Shamsie
Interviewed Guest Diane Purkiss


Late Night Woman's Hour

Late Night Woman's Hour

Lauren Laverne, Emma Barnett and guests in frank and funny Late Night Woman's Hour.

The Menopause

The Menopause

A series exploring its impact on women’s work and relationships, and potential treatments

Woman's Hour video

Woman's Hour video

Visual delights from Woman's Hour.

Follow us on Instagram

Follow us on Instagram

Get all the pictures, videos, behind the scenes and more from Woman’s Hour



Four women struggle to reclaim their identity after being abused online.