What’s on TV this Christmas?

ByKim Staples
Couple watching TV at Christmas

There’s a few things we can all agree we love about Christmas: a nice roast turkey, a pile of gifts, and a ton of good stuff to watch on telly. This year, the box has outdone itself, with something for everyone. Here’s our pick of the best and most festive TV this year.

Pre-Christmas

Sky Atlantic is gearing up for the Christmas period with something rather special: every single episode of Game of Thrones so far. Yep, all of them. Right from Fun Adventures With Ned Stark all the way up to Literal White Walker Hell. Catch 'em all from 16 December onwards on Sky Atlantic - Sky channel 108, or with a Now TV Entertainment Pass. 

Or, if you'd rather avoid awful Westeros happenings and enjoy some awful real life happenings instead, check out Bowie, Prince, and Music Legends We Lost in 2016- a "poignant look" at some of the best musicians who passed away this year. That's on Sky Arts (Sky 121, Virgin Media 122, TalkTalk 305) on 17 December.

David Bowie performing

And the run-up to Christmas simply wouldn't be complete without the chance to learn some new Yuletide recipes. That's where Jamie Oliver comes in, with Jamie's Ultimate Christmas - where he'll be teaching us how to roast a nice moist turkey and make the best gravy in town. Catch it on 19 December, 8pm on Channel 4.

That also happens to be the day that all the special Christmas episodes start. A two-part special of Last Tango in Halifax is set to air on 19 and 20 December, to let us know how Caroline is doing two years on after the last series. Check it out on BBC One, 9pm both days.

It's not just the Beeb rocking the Christmas specials - Netflix original Sense8 is back for a quick one-off episode from the Wachowskis, ready to whet our appetite for series two. It'll arrive on 23 December. (And don't forget you can now download it too!)

Finally, we mark the end of the pre-Christmas season with a good old-fashioned celebrity game show. This year, that's a special one-off resurrection of Blankety Blank, hosted by David Walliams. Catch it on ITV, Christmas Eve at 6.30pm.

And for the kids, there's an animated feature of We're Going on a Bear Hunt, based on Michael Rosen's picture book. It's made by the same guys behind The Snowman and The Snow Dog, so you know it'll be good. Find it at 7.30pm, Christmas Eve on Channel 4.

Christmas Day

You won't be short on things to watch on Christmas Day itself, even if you don't have a full pay-TV package. Once the presents are opened and the turkey is wolfed down, it's time to stick the telly on and watch Frozen - 3.10pm on BBC One - the perfect Xmas entertainment for the whole family.

Frozen

Then as soon as that's over, let it go and stay tuned for The Great Christmas Bake Off. Memorable former contestants of the show are coming back together for its final episode on the BBC, competing to make some of the tastiest festive treats. Catch it at 4.45pm.

And of course, it just wouldn't be Christmas without the Doctor Who Christmas special. The oddly-titled The Return of Doctor Mysterio, complete with appearances from Justin Chatwin and Matt Lucas, airs at 5.45pm on BBC One.

If sci-fi isn't your style, however, and you prefer something a little more fantastical, flick over to Sky 1 for The Last Dragonslayer - a brand new series based on Jasper Fforde's novels that blends the mediaeval and the magical with the modern. Catch it at 5.45pm.

You might want to go back to the Beeb later though, as it's time for the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special. Like the Bake Off, it'll feature six past contestants who didn't quite make it to the crown the first time around - Denise Lewis, Melvin Odoom, Frankie Bridge, Pamela Stephenson, Ainsley Harriott, and Gethin Jones. That's on at 6.45pm.

Next up on BBC One is a special Call the Midwife, which sees the gals heading to South Africato help out at a mission hospital that the locals are struggling to keep open - on at 8pm after Strictly.

Call the Midwife

And when the big day is almost over, Rowan Atkinson stars as Belgian detective Jules Maigret in a full-length feature of Maigret's Dead Man - based on Georges Simenon's 1948 novel. Catch it on ITV1 at 9pm when the kids have gone to bed.

For more classic Christmas movies throughout the day, check out The Wizard of Oz (2.10pm, Channel 5), It's a Wonderful Life (2.20m, Channel 4), Home Alone (6pm, Channel 4), and Love Actually (11pm, ITV1).

Boxing Day

Boxing Day happens to be a great day for films on the box too. There's Deadpool on Sky Cinema Premiere; Pitch Perfect on Channel 4; Pride on BBC Two; West Side Story on Channel 5; and for the whole family, there's The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe on Channel 4.

The young'uns will also find some entertainment in Roald Dahl's Revolting Rhymes - animated adaptations of the celebrated author's twisted fairy stories, with voices provided by David Walliams, Tamsin Greig, and Rob Brydon. That's on at 6.30pm on BBC One.

Later in the evening, tune in to The Entire Universe, the ultimate antidote to the usual Christmas lectures. This all-singing, all-dancing extravaganza is a comedy musical about the creation of, well, everything, with help from big names like Prof Brian Cox, Eric Idle, Noel Fielding, Warwick Davis, Hannah Waddingham, and Robin Ince. Find it on BBC Two at 9.30pm.

And let's not forget about the footie. Here are the matches kicking off on Boxing Day:

Football match
  • Watford v Crystal Palace - 12.30pm, Sky Sports
  • Hull City v Manchester City - 5.15pm, Sky Sports
  • Newcastle v Everton - 5.30pm, BT Sport
  • Southampton v Arsenal - 7.45pm, BT Sport

Find out how to get Sky Sports here and how to get BT Sport here.

Sky Cinema Christmas

Sky Cinema Christmas

As always, Sky Cinema is resurrecting its annual Christmas channel, full of just the best Yuletide movies. This year, grab some popcorn and sit down with the likes of Home Alone 2 and 3, White Christmas, The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Grinch, The Holiday, Fred Claus, Scrooged, The Santa Clause, Krampus, and, uh, Batman Returns. Which is technically a Christmas film.

How do I get Sky Cinema?

 

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