‘Tis the season for Christmas films, bumper editions of your favourite shows and repeats of programmes you almost forgot existed. Whether you’re crazy about Christmas or a Grinch at heart, you can immerse yourself in an eclectic mix of classic films, reality shows and quirky comedies. To save you spending hours highlighting your TV guide, here are some top picks.
Christmas is a time for TV shows to be given that special festive touch; whether it’s a
snowy setting, a yuletide-themed conundrum or an extra helping of drama and misery. This year the specials are more Christmassy than ever. Santa himself is scheduled to make an appearance in Doctor Who: Last Christmas (8pm, Christmas Day, BBC One) to save the Doctor and Clara from an alien attack, while the Crawleys are celebrating a white Christmas in Downton Abbey (9pm, Christmas Day, ITV) with a larger-than-life tree and the Dowager Countess’ own brand of Christmas cheer. On the comedy front catch Lee Mack and Bobby Ball in Not Going Out (Christmas Eve BBC One) before saying goodbye to the slapstick in the final two episodes of Miranda (7.15pm, Christmas Day, BBC One).
Reality Shows and Documentaries
If you want a glimpse into the weird and wonderful ways people spend their holidays or are hoping to see celebrities doing silly things, a special seasonal fix of reality TV is on offer. Britain’s Craziest Christmas Lights (7.20pm, Christmas Eve, Channel 5) follows four families as they decorate their homes in blinding LED displays, while Panto – Mayhem, Make-up and Magic (9.25pm, 22nd December, BBC Four) focuses on a group of amateur dramatics putting on a show while dealing with dodgy pyrotechnics and a revealing donkey costume. A special edition of Strictly Come Dancing (5pm, Christmas Day, BBC One) brings back the sequinned costumes with panto-inspired routines.
Book to Screen Adaptations
The magic of Christmas has brought some of our favourite books to life with amazing casts in the lead character roles. Based on the classic children’s series, The Adventures of Professor Branestawm (8.30pm, Christmas Eve, BBC One) sees Harry Hill taking on the role of the absent-minded and eccentric professor. Following on from Gangsta Granny and Mr Stink, David Walliams’ novel The Boy in the Dress (6.55pm, Boxing Day, BBC One) has been given a TV makeover with special appearances from Kate Moss and Jennifer Saunders. Adapted by Richard Curtis, Roald Dahl’s Esio Trot (6.30pm, New Year’s Day, BBC One) brings together Judy Dench and Dustin Hoffman in a tortoise-inspired romance.
Films, New and Old
It wouldn’t be Christmas without a never-ending selection of films to watch as you laze on the sofa after too many mince pies. In true eclectic fashion, films range from classics such as Scrooged (2.05pm, Christmas Day, Channel 4), spy thrillers such as Mission: Impossible 2 (7.10pm, 27th December, Channel 4) and more bizarre offerings including Cockneys VS Zombies (10pm, Boxing Day, Pick).
Making their TV debut are Skyfall (8pm, Christmas Eve, ITV) and The Dark Knight (9pm, New Year’s Day, ITV) while kids can be kept entertained with Disney’s Cinderella (4pm, 22nd December, BBC One), Arthur Christmas (6pm, Christmas Day, Channel 4) and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (3.25pm, Christmas Day, Channel 5).
Something a Bit Different..
If you’re already fed up of festive fun and can’t bear to see another bauble on your screen, an array of shows offer entertainment without any mention of the C-word*. The Top Gear: Patagonia Special (8.30pm, 27th December, BBC Two) sees the three presenters travelling through South America on their most gruelling challenge yet, War Horse at the Proms (5.25pm, Boxing Day, BBC Two) showcases an unlikely musical performance conducted by Gareth Malone, and if you’re interested in Her Majesty’s bushes, The Queen’s Garden (3.10pm, Christmas Day, ITV) provides a sneak peek into Buckingham Palace’s impressive gardens and history.