If you're lucky enough to still be off work and in the Christmas spirit - check out these delights
Tuesday 27 December, 5.00pm Sky Sport 1
Jürgen Klopp’s transformation of Liverpool into a thrilling title contender has been wonderful viewing for the neutral football fan.
Today he’ll be hosting a tough Stoke City (k-o 5.15pm), who have been steadily improving as the season goes on.
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has been incredible – he’s consistently having more touches of the ball during a game than any other player in the league – and that kind of graft is what will be needed against Stoke
Tuesday 27 December, 7.30pm ITV
There’s a treat in store for Harry Potter fans with a different film showing every night on ITV, beginning with the fourth film in JK Rowling’s series, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
The rest of the series follows in chronological order. Earlier in the day, relive the 50 Greatest Harry Potter Moments (4.10pm) and Fantastic Beasts and JK Rowling’s Wizarding World (5.40pm)
Real Marigold on Tour
Tuesday 27 December, 9.00pm BBC2
A group of pensioners from the first series of this show, which was inspired by the 2011 film, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, head off in search of yet more adventure in this two-part special. Actress Miriam Margolyes, dancer Wayne Sleep, darts champion Bobby George and celebrity cook Rosemary Shrager are off to Florida (tonight) and Japan (Friday) to try out different retirement communities.
And it’s all done with laughter and a spring in their step. What do they find for old folks overseas?
Much more than a mobility scooter ride to Eastbourne pier and Homes under the Hammer on a loop with the heating on full blast.
Walliams & Friend
Tuesday 27 December, 10.00pm BBC1
David Walliams’s sketch show culminates in a cracking extended episode featuring Downton Abbey and W1A actor Hugh Bonneville.
Highlights include the pair playing smarmy game-show hosts in a baffling quiz called Double or Nothing and them throwing some, ahem, shapes as the world’s most embarrassing dancing dads.
Our favourite sketch, though, has to be a trip to the Apprentice boardroom where Hugh and David pull off some hilarious impressions of Lord Sugar and his scary aide Claude Littner respectively.
Jolly good fun!
Inside No 9
Tuesday 27 December, 10.00pm BBC2
A host of stars enter the weird and wonderful world of Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith, as the razor-sharp double act serve up a festive helping of their quirky anthology series.
Ahead of a new run next year, tonight’s special sees Steve, Jessica Raine and Rula Lenska playing the leads in a 1977 film about Krampus, the scary, mythical beast who punishes naughty kids at Christmas.
But it’s not long before fiction edges alarmingly towards reality… A brilliantly unpredictable half hour.
Wednesday 28 December, 7.00pm C4
Balloons and banners are a familiar sight in airport arrivals, but in this tender film we hear the stories behind those waiting for their loved ones at London Heathrow.
Carly hasn’t seen Michael, who lives in the US, for five months, while it’s an emotional wait for Khaled, about to see his three-year-old son Ali for the first time since fleeing war-torn Syria.
With tear-jerking real-life reunions, plus the odd proposal, you can’t help but watch with a great big smile
Wednesday 28 December, 7.30pm Sky Sports 1
Under Claude Puel, Southampton are becoming formidable.
Tonight, however, they have a tough test in the form of Tottenham Hotspur (k-o 8.00pm) and will be hoping striker Charlie Austin maintains his fine goal-scoring form.
Spurs were unbeaten for the first 12 games of the season, but a shortage of wins so far means it’s been difficult to crack the top four places.
Will the Saints be yet another barrier to the top?
Wednesday 28 December, 9.00pm BBC2
Dragons Peter Jones, Deborah Meaden, Touker Suleyman, Sarah Willingham and Nick Jenkins return with a Christmas edition of the business show, with chocolate gifts, socks and dance mats all on the menu.
Will the Dragons be feeling festive and benevolent, or will they put the hopefuls on the naughty list?
The Christmas Reassembler
Wednesday 28 December, 9.00pm BBC4
On paper, looking on as a man puts various household objects back together sounds worse than watching paint dry. But here’s James May back with another series doing just that.
And, as he calmly and informatively re-assembles a Triang Hornby Flying Scotsman Train Set from 1972 – 138 separate parts (even the tiny electric motor is all in bits) – it can’t be denied that there’s a certain hypnotic charm about the whole thing.
It’s probably sexist and ageist to suggest that this is mainly going to appeal to middle-aged men, so let’s not, but there are three more programmes in the series.
The Jungle Book
Thursday 29 December, 4.15pm Sky Cinema Premiere
It’s hard to believe that this live-action version of Kipling’s stories was filmed entirely inside a studio. Mowgli (nicely played by Neel Sethi) is the only non-virtual entity – every other creature, leaf and location comes straight out of a computer.
It’s darker than Disney’s 1967 cartoon, with monstrous tiger Shere Khan (voiced by Idris Elba) out to kill the man-cub brought up by wolves, and Mowgli finding help in the shape of laconic bear Baloo (Bill Murray).
One of the best scenes, however, is the showdown with King Louie (Christopher Walken), a near King Kong-sized ape in this version. A big, beautiful blast of a film.
Life in the Snow
Thursday 29 December, 8.00pm BBC1
How do Mother Nature’s snow-loving animals survive winter without central heating or bobble hats?!
In this charming one-off, Gordon Buchanan looks at how wildlife brrr-aves the elements to live in the coldest environments on Earth.
From seal-hunting polar bears in the Arctic to emperor penguins huddling together for warmth, Gordon reveals their unique physical adaptations.
Look out for the Arctic fox, who’s able to venture further north than his doggy cousins, plus Gordon explores the survival strategies of classic Christmas animals, including the reindeer and the little robin redbreast in our very own back gardens.
To Walk Invisible
Thursday 29 December, 9.00pm BBC1
Even if you’ve never read Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights (what have you been doing?!), you’ll still be fascinated by this look at the lives of Brontë sisters Charlotte (Finn Atkins), Emily (Chloe Pirrie) and Anne (Charlie Murphy) – as full of turmoil as their much-loved novels.
This one-off drama, written and directed by Happy Valley’s Sally Wainwright, follows the sisters at home in their Yorkshire parsonage as they and their vicar father (Jonathan Pryce), cope with the decline of their alcoholic brother Branwell (Adam Nagaitis).
But, as they despair for the future, plucky Charlotte embarks on a quest to get their writing published…
Flying Scotsman: From the Footplate
Thursday 29 December, 9.00pm BBC4
There have been some fabulous ‘slow TV’ shows on BBC4 over the past two years, including a narrowboat trip, a sleigh ride and a country bus excursion – all two hours long, with no voice-over.
This latest one takes us on a 60-minute trip on steam locomotive the Flying Scotsman along the Severn Valley Railway from Bridgnorth to Kidderminster. Railway enthusiasts will love it, and if you’re finding Christmas a bit too hectic, this is the perfect way to unwind. All aboard!
Springsteen: In His Words
Thursday 29 December, 10.35pm C4
Friday 30 December, 3.40pm BBC1
‘I’m Stick Man, I’m Stick Man, I’m Stick Man, that’s me! And I long to be back in the family tree.’ Parents of little ones will need no introduction to our woody hero, but for the uninitiated Stick Man is the story of one stick’s struggle for survival.
First shown on Christmas Day last year, Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s enchanting tale is such a delight it’s well worth another watch. When Stick Man goes out for a jog one spring morning, he unwillingly gets involved in a game of fetch for a dog, which sends him on a journey far from home.
As the seasons pass and he ends up further away, things look bleak for the plucky twig.
Will he make it home in time for Christmas?
The voice cast includes Hugh Bonneville, Jennifer Saunders and Rob Brydon.
All the World’s Her Stage
Friday 30 December, 8.00pm BBC2
The stars come out to praise acting legend Dame Judi Dench
2017 will mark the 60th anniversary of Judi Dench’s professional debut, in Hamlet at Liverpool’s Royal Court Theatre.
‘Has talent,’ said one slightly sniffy review of the time. This tribute to Dame Judi gathers accolades from the worlds of TV, theatre and film, from the likes of Billy Connolly, Daniel Craig and Samantha Bond.
In fact it’s a great day for Dench fans, with book-lovers’ romance 84 Charing Cross Road, co-starring Anthony Hopkins and Anne Bancroft, kicking things off at noon.
Ladies in Lavender, co-starring fellow dame Maggie Smith, follows at 1.35pm, then at 6.30pm there’s another showing of a Christmas treat from 2014, Roald Dahl’s Esio Trot.
The Real Marigold on Tour
Friday 30 December, 9.00pm BBC2
Now this is how to grow old disgracefully! Japan doesn’t know what’s hit it when Wayne Sleep, Bobby George, Miriam Margolyes and Rosemary Shrager blast in for the second part of this special.
The new arrivals want to find out what life is like for retirees in the Land of the Rising Sun, where their contemporaries are lean, lithe and full of energy – many of them work, having got jobs through the Silver Human Resource Centre.
Our fabulous four all try working life in Kyoto and Miriam and Rosemary let it all hang out when they get naked at a traditional public baths.
‘This is quite liberating’, declares Rosemary before urging Miriam not to break wind in the pool.
Friday 30 December, 9.00pm Sky 1
There’s an impressive cast for this new four-part drama by Dan Sefton, who has written episodes of Mr Selfridge and Death in Paradise.
Dawn French tops the bill as a Sicilian cook called Gina who is divorced from chef and hotel owner Leo (Iain Glen).
She also happens to be friends with his new partner Sam (Emilia Fox), who suspects Leo is cheating on her.
Gina, of course, would know all the telltale signs. Sheila Hancock co-stars as Leo’s mother Mimi.
Friday 30 December, 10.00pm BBC2
Ever wanted to know how bees have sex? And what happens to the poor males once they’ve satisfied (or not) their queen?
All is revealed, to the sound of much studio laughter and the furious crossing and uncrossing of legs, as David Baddiel, Cariad Lloyd, Ross Noble and Alan Davies try to field questions bowled by quizmistress Sandi Toksvig.
Tonight’s answers are all on a theme of nature and nurture – hence apian reproductive practices – and if you’ve ever wondered whether there is an animal on the planet that licks its own eyeballs, this is the show to tell you what it’s called, where it lives and why it does it.