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It's been a tough year, but Christmas is finally here. And despite the stumbling blocks of 2020, TV production crews have pulled out all the stops to produce some new dramas and comedies for us to enjoy over a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie. From the comical return of The Vicar of Dibley to the hotly-anticipated drama Black Narcissus, there is plenty of small screen entertainment this festive season…

Gemma Collins: Diva for Xmas

Gemma Collins wearing Christmassy antlers and tinsel, about to break into song

 

The GC is back, and she is determined to raise the nation’s spirits in time for Christmas, so in classic Gemma style she’s teamed up with Darren Day to record a Christmas single. Gemma Collins’ take on 2020 and ‘corona’ has become an internet sensation, so if you aren’t a convert already, the entire Gemma Collins’ Diva Forever series is still available on ITV Hub.

Available on ITV Hub now

First Dates at Christmas

A smiling couple dressed up for Christmas, with Santa hats and presents

 

First Dates is back for another Christmas special, and this time Fred and the team are headed to a cosy rural hideaway inspired by Britain’s favourite yuletide romcoms, as singletons search for the most perfect gift of all – love.

Wednesday 23rd December, 9pm, Channel 4

The Vicar of Dibley in Lockdown

Dawn French as the Vicar of Dibley

 

If there's one thing that can give us a bit of cheer this year it is the sight of Geraldine Grainger back on the box again. Dawn French is to reprise her role as everyone's favourite TV returns three 10-minute episodes set during lockdown, post lockdown, and pre-another-lockdown. The eps will see Geraldine deliver monthly sermons to her parishioners and feature James Fleet returning as Hugo Horton. Dawn has also revealed the show will pay tribute to the some of the cast no longer with us, including Emma Chambers, who played the loveable Alice Tinker.

First two episodes available on BBC iPlayer now

 

The Only Way is Essexmas

A glamourous woman opening her door, her door is decorated with a big silver and pink wreath

 

If you are missing the chance to get all dressed up and enjoy some festive drama at your work Christmas party, then the TOWIE Christmas special is the one for you.

Available on ITV Hub

All Creatures Great and Small Christmas Special

A christmassy scene in the village square, with Christmas trees, and James the vet looking back over his shoulder

 

TV show remakes tend to go one way or the other, but Channel 5 have struck gold with All Creatures Great and Small - so much so there is a festive special on the way later this month. The episode is set on Christmas Eve with preparations well underway for the Skeldale Christmas party, and Helen (Rachel Shenton) and Hugh's (Matthew Lewis) wedding on Christmas Day. Nicholas Ralph stars as the lead character, vet James Herriot, in the series.

Tuesday 22nd December, 9:00pm, Channel 5

Gogglebox Christmas Special

Gogglebox family The Plummers laughing in their living room

 

There will also be laughs aplenty in the Gogglebox Christmas Special as the nation's favourite armchair critics look back at some of the festive flops and successes on the small screen, and let us know what they thought of them. Fans of the Channel 4 show are in for a real treat this festive season, as there is a triple threat to look forward to. As well as the Christmas special, there is also Gogglebox: Best of 2020 and Celebrity Gogglebox: Best of 2020 on the schedule. Viewers will be able to look back at the likes of Rylan Clark-Neal and his mum Linda discussing their TV highlights and lowlights.

Christmas Eve, 9:00pm, Channel 4

The Great Christmas Bake Off

A group of previous Bake Off contestants in green aprons pulling Christmas crackers

 

We usually know what we're going to get with Bake Off - soggy bottoms, laughter, tears, Hollywood handshakes and Noel Fielding. But the festive instalment of our favourite baking show will be slightly different this year, as Noel is off on paternity leave, so Bake Off: The Professionals presenter Tom Allen will stand in for him. The upcoming episode see former show favourites, Jamie Finn and Rosie Brandreth-Poynter from 2019, Ruby Bhogal from 2018, and 2017's James Hillery welcomed back into the tent in a bid to be crowned Christmas Star Baker. The episode will conclude with Alexandra Burke performing a version of Silent Night.

Christmas Eve, 7:40pm, Channel 4

Ghosts

A grand mansion on a snow scene, with the front cutaway so you can see the rooms inside, the ghosts that haunt the mansion look gleeful at the top of the house

 

One TV highlight of 2020 has undoubtedly been the second series of popular BBC sitcom Ghosts. And the mischievous spirits will be back from beyond the grave over the festive period as Alison and Mike Cooper - played by Charlotte Ritchie and Kiell Smith-Bynoe - host his family for the first time at Christmas in their apparition-infested abode. The spooky goings on will take place on December 23rd on BBC One.

Wednesday December 23rd, 8:30pm, BBC One

Taskmaster’s New Year Treat

Greg Davies and Alex Horne on the Taskmaster thrones

 

From one show about a clown, to another about several people clowning around - Taskmaster is back for a festive special this year, Taskmaster's New Year Treat. Greg Davies, alongside his Little Assistant (Alex Horne), will once again set some obscure and tough challenges for five famous faces, Four Weddings and a Funeral actor John Hannah, news anchor Krishnan Guru-Murthy, Derry Girls star Nicola Coughlan, Supermarket Sweep host Rylan Clark-Neal, and Strictly Come Dancing head judge and Shirley Ballas.

New Year’s Day, 9:00pm, Channel 4

Call the Midwife Christmas Special

The cast of Call the Midwife stand outside a traditional shop front surrounded by snow and festive decorations

 

Fans of medically-themed festive specials are in for a double treat this year, as the hotly-anticipated Call the Midwife is to air over on the BBC. Filming on the episode, which will air on Christmas Day, was paused earlier this year due to the pandemic but the team managed to get the show in the can on time. While last year's special featured mischievous sheep in Scotland, it was perhaps fortunate - in terms of potential filming restrictions - that this year the sisters were back at their familiar surroundings of Nonnatus House in London's Poplar, where the circus arrives, and Sister Monica Joan is rushed to hospital.

Christmas Day, 7:40pm, BBC One

The Masked Singer

Group of people disguised in amazing costumes, one as a clock face, a seahorse and a viking

 

The Masked Singer grew a devoted audience when the first series aired back in January 2020 (which now feels like a lifetime ago) and it’s back for round two. The concept is a selection of celebs in impressive costumes take to the stage, and the judges have to not only choose the best singer, but also try and work out who it is behind the mask. Joel Dommett is returning as the host, with Rita Ora, Davina McCall, Mo Gilligan, and Jonathan Ross forming the All Star judging panel. And if you absolutely can’t wait, the full first series is available to catch up on ITV Hub now.

Boxing Day, 7:00pm, ITV

The Serpent

70s style, arty image, with Tahar Rahim as Charles Sobhraj in the centre, and Jenna Coleman as his accomplice next to him

 

A true crime thriller based on the notorious global conman and serial murderer, Charles Sobhraj. Starring Tahar Rahim and Jenna Coleman, The Serpent is an epic eight-part drama following the fight to bring Sobhraj to justice. New Year’s Day, 9pm, BBC One

Black Narcissus

Close up image of Gemma Arterton as a nun in Black Narcissus, background is blurred

 

One sister who won't be popping into Poplar's circus this Christmas is Gemma Arterton's Black Narcissus character Sister Clodagh. The Bond girl leads the cast of this 1930s-set thriller based on Rumer Godden’s classic novel of the same name, in which her character is tasked with starting a mission in the Himalayas. The late Diana Rigg will make a posthumous appearance as Mother Dorothea, who sends Sister Ruth (Aisling Franciosi) to the Himalayas as well. The three-part drama will begin on December 27th and air over three consecutive nights.

Sunday 27th December, 9:00pm, BBC One

Pretty Little Liars

Four teenage girls sit front row at a funeral

 

On New Year’s Day the entire box set of the cult drama Pretty Little Liars will be available to binge via BBC iPlayer. If you aren’t already familiar with the series, it follows a group of teenage girls whose lives are torn apart after the disappearance of one of their best friends, Alison. In the years that follow they begin getting messages from a mysterious ‘A’ that seems to know all their secrets. It’s full of twists and turns that you’ll either find ridiculous, or you’ll love – but either way it will keep you guessing right until the very end.

Full box set available on BBC iPlayer, on New Year’s Day

The Pembrokeshire Murders

Caucasian male stands in a suit on a beach

 

While there has been drama aplenty in 2020, there is always room for a bit more - and ITV are to deliver just that with the chilling The Pembrokeshire Murders. The drama is based on the real-life tragic double killings of Helen and Richard Thomas in 1985, and Gwenda and Peter Dixon in 1989 in Pembrokeshire, west Wales. Luke Evans will play Senior Investigating Officer Steve Wilkins, and the programme is based on the policeman's book, Catching the Bullseye Killer, which told the story of how the murderer was discovered following an appearance on darts game show Bullseye.

Airing in early January on ITV

For more Christmas recommendations, head over to Channel 100 on your Freeview Play TV to browse and discover. 

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