The Twelve Best Shows To Watch On TV This Christmas

By : Alex Watt |


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Let’s face it, one of the best things about Christmas is what’s on TV over the festive period, with Xmas specials galore to enjoy.

And this year’s schedule is more jam packed than ever, with a veritable feast of entertainment on the box over the next couple of weeks.

Besides the usual crackers like Doctor Who, you can expect some absolute gifts of drama, comedy, animation and documentaries to be served up alongside your Christmas dinner this year.

Although there’s a Mrs Brown’s Boys Christmas special too, but the less said about that the better…

Here’s just twelve of the shows you won’t want to miss over Christmas and New Year:

Doctor Who

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It’s the jewel in the BBC’s crown and the majority of the British public will be crowded around the box on Christmas Day for the new Doctor Who festive special (probably while one member of the family talks all the way through it). This time, Peter Capaldi’s Doctor gets a call from a downed spaceship that sends him on an intergalactic hunt for a space super-villain. Alex Kingston is back as fellow time traveller River Song to add yet another layer to their confusing relationship, with comedians Greg Davies and Matt Lucas popping up too.

Christmas Day, BBC One

Sherlock: The Abominable Bride

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Perhaps the most anticipated show on TV this Christmas, as Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman return as the famous sleuth and his sidekick. In the one-off special, the show has thrown an interesting twist on their usual modern day take on the Sherlock Holmes stories and are actually transporting the detective duo back to 1895 Victorian London. Time travelling back to the original period setting of the books, with steam trains, hansom cabs and frock-coats, the two are out to tackle the mystery of an eerie bride who appears to have returned after her death with revenge on her mind.

New Year’s Day, BBC One

Downton Abbey

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It’s the final ever episode of the ITV period drama, and those left disappointed by the final episode of the final series of Downton Abbey have been promised an Xmas special which will wrap up all the loose ends of the show. It may have taken the world by storm, but do the writers have a happy ending in store for the characters? On the eve of New Year 1926, will Lady Mary repair her relationship with sister Edith? Will Lady Edith finally find a modicum of happiness? And will Anna and Bates get a new arrival?

Christmas Day, ITV


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A 20-part series? It’s fair to say this is quite the ambitious undertaking from the BBC. The show is described as an “irreverent” mash-up take on the classic Charles Dickens stories, featuring some of the author’s most famous characters interacting in a way we’ve never seen before. Written by Eastenders’ former scriptwriter Tony Jordan, expect to see the likes of Scrooge, Mr Bumble, Fagin and Miss Havisham all bumping into one another.


Stick Man

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This Christmas’ animated offering from the BBC, from the creative team behind the screen adaptations of The Gruffalo and Room On The Broom. The half hour special is a reworking of the bestselling children’s book by Julia Donaldson, and features the Stick Man in question working to get back to his family and their tree in time for Christmas Day. Martin Freeman voices the lead, Hugh Bonneville is Santa and Jennifer Saunders narrates in the one to watch for all the family, especially big kids like us!


Michael McIntyre’s Big Christmas Show

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McIntyre’s back for another star studded special, featuring the world’s leading comedians, singers and other stars for a Christmas Day special recorded at a jam packed Theatre Royal Drury Lane. Expect much festive merriment from this one, as per usual.

Christmas Day, BBC One

Fungus the Bogeyman

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This four-part offering from Sky 1 features Timothy Spall and Victoria Wood leading a cracker of a voice cast, in an adaptation of Raymond Briggs’ classic children’s tale of a bogeyman suddenly overwhelmed by doubt about the purpose of his life. To be fair, when you’re made from actual bogeys, a midlife crisis is pretty much inevitable!

TBC, Sky 1

Snow Chick

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Your first of two nature documentary picks this festive season. Kate Winslet narrates the natural history documentary following the real life story of an Antarctic emperor penguin chick hatching and trying to survive in the harshest environment on Earth. Everyone loves a bit of drama and cute animals on Christmas, and this one will fill that quota to a tee.


Shaun the Sheep

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It’s a Christmas story as old as time – a sheep goes down to market with the farmer and his sheepdog, but they get fleeced by a group of llamas. The latest half hour special from the Aardman crew sounds as brilliantly bizarre as usual and any time these guys roll out a new Christmas special, it tends to be absolute gold.


We’re Doomed! The Dad’s Army Story

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With a new big screen adaptation of the classic BBC wartime sitcom set to hit cinemas next year, the Beeb are rolling out this one-off hour-long drama special, revealing the behind-the-scenes story of how creators Jimmy Perry and David Croft didn’t panic and overcame BBC scepticism and production difficulties to get the show on the air.


David Attenborough’s Great Barrier Reef

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He’s back! Sir David is back at the helm of another three-part nature documentary, as he returns to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia where he first scuba-dived 60 years ago. This time he’s using brand new technology and scientific research to unlock the secrets of the reef and explore its marine wildlife, and any time the legend that is Attenborough is on the box, it gets a thumbs up from us!


Top Gear A-Z

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It’s your last chance to watch the infamous Top Gear trio of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May, as the BBC rolls out a two-part celebration of the best bits of the presenters’ time atop the motoring show. It’s a pretty shameless ploy from the BBC to get some final ratings for the show before Chris Evans’ crew take the reins (and Jezza ain’t too happy about it) but, let’s face it, we’ll all be tuning in to watch the team’s hi-jinks one last time.


There’s also the Sound of Music Live!, The Strictly Come Dancing Final and Christmas Special, Call The Midwife and a heck of a lot more, if that sort of thing floats your boat.

Hey, we told you there was a lot on!


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