From the return of family favourites Call The Midwife and Victoria to fabulous new drama and entertainment, we bring you our exclusive rundown of the best 25 TV shows to watch this Christmas and when they're on...
The Top 25 shows on this Christmas and what channel and times they’re on
1. Call The Midwife, BBC1, Christmas Day, 7.40pm
Brrr! After battling sweltering heat in South Africa last Christmas, the residents of Nonnatus House face the coldest winter for 300 years as The Big Freeze hits Poplar in 1963. Sister Julienne (Jenny Agutter – check out our interview with Jenny about the Christmas special) tries to reunite a family torn apart by a cruel father while former EastEnders star Anita Dobson guest stars in this Call the Midwife Christmas special!
2. Victoria – Comfort and Joy, ITV, Christmas Day, 9.00pm
Jenna Coleman and Tom Hughes are back as Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in the drama’s first festive special, which celebrates all the Christmas traditions Albert bought to Britain from his native Germany – including the Christmas tree.
3. Little Women, BBC1, Boxing Day, 8.00pm
This glossy three-part adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s coming-of-age novel, set against the backdrop of the American Civil War, follows the four March sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy. Murder, She Wrote legend Angela Lansbury plays cantankerous Aunt March.
4. Doctor Who Christmas Special, BBC1, Christmas Day, 5.30pm
This year’s very snowy adventure, Twice Upon a Time, sees Peter Capaldi’s 12th Time Lord on a mission with the First Doctor, played by Broadchurch’s David Bradley. Look out for Jodie Whittaker’s much-hyped debut as the 13th Doctor.
5. Grandpa’s Great Escape, BBC1, New Year’s Day, 6.55pm
Adaptations of David Walliams’ children books are a Christmas staple, and this year there are two! Grandpa’s Great Escape tells the story of youngster Jack and his granddad (Tom Courtenay) a World War II flying ace, who now sadly suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. When Grandpa is moved to an old people’s, run by wicked Miss Dandy (Jennifer Saunders), he and his grandson join forces to make a daring escape. The cast also features Samantha Spiro and David Walliams himself as Jack’s parents.
6. Ratburger, Sky One, Christmas Eve, 6.00pm
Meanwhile, David’s joined by Sheridan Smith in gruesome comedy Ratburger about a lonely young girl who befriends a dancing rat!
7. Eric, Ernie and Me, BBC4, Friday 29th December, 9.00pm
This one-off biopic sees Stephen Tompkinson play comedy writer Eddie Braben as he sets about turning comedy double act Eric Morecambe (Line of Duty’s Mark Bonnar) and Ernie Wise (Human’s star Neil Maskell) into much-loved icons.
8. Maigret in Montmarte, ITV, Christmas Eve, 8.30pm
Rowan Atkinson returns for a fourth outing as the fictional French detective in mystery Maigret in Montmartre. Rowan believes it’s the best story yet…
9. Paul O’Grady For The Love of Dogs at Christmas, ITV, Christmas Day, 7.00pm
More cute seasonal stories from Battersea Dogs and Cats Home in this annual special.
10. Not Going Out, BBC1, Christmas Eve, 9.35pm
It’s Christmas Eve and panic present buying for their three kids is on the agenda for Lee (Lee Mack) and Lucy (Sally Bretton).
11. Michael McIntyre’s Big Christmas Show, BBC1, Christmas Eve, 8.30pm
The annual festive edition of the comedian’s hit variety show.
12. Jane and Friends at Christmas, C5, Saturday 23rd December, 10.00pm
Jane McDonald is joined by music stars as she sings her favourite songs to an audience of her devoted fans. “It’s a bit like the old Dusty Springfield and Cilla Black music specials,” Jane told us.
13. Mary, Mel and Sue’s Big Christmas Thank You , BBC1, Christmas Eve, 7.00pm
The queen of baking reunites with her former Bake Off colleagues Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins to sprinkle some festive magic on agroup of exceptional people in South Wales, who despite various setbacks have pulled together to open a community centre.
14. Mrs Brown’s Boys, BBC1, Christmas Day, 10.00pm
Everyone’s favourite ‘mammy’ Agnes and all of her family and friends dish out Christmas cheer – in the way that only they can! – in two fun-packed festive specials. Star Brendan O’Carroll has spoken to us about both specials.
15. The Highway Rat, BBC1, Christmas Day, 4.55pm
From the team behind the Stick Man and The Gruffalo adaptations, this enchanting star-studded 30-minute animation, based on Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s 2011 picture book, sees David Tennant voice a ruthless rodent who steals sweet treats from other animals.
16. Joanna & Jennifer: Absolutely Champers, BBC2, Thursday 23rd December, 9.00pm
Crack open the Bolly, sweetie darling, as Absolutely Fabulous best friends Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley visit the Champagne region of North Eastern France learn how their tipple is made and reminisce about their friendship.
17. 300 Years of French and Saunders, BBC1, Christmas Day, 10.35pm
Jennifer Saunders teams up with her other TV partner Dawn French to celebrate the special anniversary of their award-winning sketch show. They promise that the one-off show is bursting with their greatest hits, hilarious rarities, and even some brand new material.
18. Christmas Bake Off, C4, Christmas Day, 7.40pm
We head back into to the famous white tent for two special episodes as judges Prue Leith and Paul Hollywood, along with hosts Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding, invite eight former bakers to compete against one another for the ultimate Christmas Star Baker gong. Expect some surprise musical guests and some rather dodgy Christmas jumpers with everyone, including the bakers, joining in for a good old sing song…
19. The Reindeer Family and Me, BBC2, Boxing Day, 8.00pm
Gordon Buchanan heads to the Arctic Circle to learn how this precious animal helps the ancient Sami people survive the harsh winters.
20. Snow Bears, BBC1, Boxing Day, 6.30pm
An enchanting true-to-life tale of two polar bear cubs on their journey of a lifetime to the ice surrounding the North Pole. With Spring on the way, if they are to survive the hungry bears must travel 400 miles to where the North Pole icecaps team with seals. On their epic journey they meet a colourful collection of artic characters, including reindeer, narwhals, walrus and artic foxes who have learnt to adapt to this frozen world.
21. The Price is Right, C4, Saturday 30th December, 8.00pm
Come on Down as funnyman Alan Carr hosts a one-off reboot of classic gameshow. Alan hopes he does Brucie proud…
22. Still Open All Hours, BBC1, Thursday 28th December, 7.30pm
It’s Christmas in the corner shop, but Granville’s (Sir David Jason) most important customers have plans to leave town and he has to shift a large number of distinctly wonky crackers!
23. Strictly Come Dancing, BBC1, Christmas Day, 6.30pm
This year’s annual special sees six past celebs return to the dance floor – Colin Jackson (series 3), Robbie Savage (series 9), Kimberley Walsh (series 10) and Judy Murray (series 12) plus Katie Derham and Jeremy Vine (both from series 13).
24. Our Friend Victoria, BBC1, Saturday 23rd December, 9.30pm
Hosted by one of Victoria Wood’s long-term collaborators, Anne Reid, this extended episode looks back the comedian’s festive back-catalogue.
25. Tim Vine Travels Through Time, BBC1, Friday 29th December, 7.30pm
Following the pilot earlier this year, the master of the pun heads back to Tudor England to find a silver lion and bring Christmas to Henry VIII’s court for a festive edition… Spice Girl Emma Bunton and Reverend Richard Coles guest star.