Work has finished, the office party embarrassment is starting to subside and you’re ready to collapse into the hibernation period before your New Year’s Resolutions promise to make yourself a better person. Christmas TV can be a minefield of shows we would never see any other time of year and, for some, with good reason. Thankfully, we are here to take your alcohol-shaking hand and lead you through the chaos to some of the best options on your box this Christmas.
Cool Runnings (1993) – BBC 1 – 23rd December – 1:15 PM
It’s important to lower yourself slowly into Christmas TV and whilst Cool Runnings is not your archetypal Christmas film, the heart-warming tale of a Jamaican bobsleigh team making it to the Winter Olympics is a great nostalgic throwback. Whilst the PG comedy may not have people laughing like it did 20 years ago, the overlying themes of teamwork and friendship may even get you excited to spend time with your family. Not to mention the ending will melt your frosty heart and get you in the mushy and emotional mind-set needed to look touched when you open a horrible, quote-related gift.
Blind Date (Christmas Special)– Channel 5 – 23rd December – 8 PM
Christmas is all about love and in a world of shallow dating shows it seems only fitting we celebrate love with the true original. The revival of Blind Date previewed earlier this year, but is returning for a Christmas Special with, and I can’t quite believe I’m saying this, a pantomime theme. Yes, Prince Charming will be choosing from three panto-princesses (a Cinderella, a Tinkerbell and a Snow White). Sure, the baby-faced 22-year-old ‘prince’ plays Jack in Jack and the Beanstalk – not a prince last time we checked – but it can be forgiven because this will surely be a formula for true love, right? You will only see this sort of madness at Christmas!
Maigret in Montmarte – ITV – Christmas Eve – 8:30 PM
There is nothing more British than settling down for an old-fashioned murder mystery, making bets with your family members as to who the murderer is and subsequently falling out 24 hours into Christmas. With the gorgeous backdrop of Budapest and the murder of a sexy showgirl to kick-start the ep, this promises to be an atmospheric thriller that will give all a breather from the spangled, novelty shows and fill the evening before Father Christmas arrives. Whilst Maigret isn’t everyone’s favourite detective series by a long stretch, it is certainly the best (and perhaps only) option for Christmas Eve.
The Snowman – Channel 4 – Christmas Day – 12.45 PM
Why are you even reading this bit?! Have a couple of wines and belt out Walking in the Air.
Doctor Who (Christmas Special) – BBC 1 – Christmas Day – 5:30 PM
The Christmas presents have been opened and everyone is full, drunk and a bit sleepy but try and wake up from your afternoon snooze in time for this TV event. Whilst the masses haven’t tuned into Dr. Who as much as they used to, this Christmas Special might recapture our attention. Not only is it Peter Capaldi’s last time playing the infamous Doctor, but we will be witnessing the anticipated arrival of Jodie Whittaker to take his place. What will be the first words spoken by a lady Doctor? Will we still be awake?
The Great British Bake-Off – Channel 4 – Christmas Day – 7:40 PM
Whilst many objected to the UK’s most popular show moving to Channel 4, many have been relieved to notice that with the same production company still making GBBO – very little has changed. In the first Christmas-edition of the show ever, we can expect judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith to generate plenty of mouth-watering treats which may even nearly get you into the mood to eat again. We will also get to check in on returning ex-contestants such as Val Stones (aka ‘the cake whisperer’) and Selasi Gbormittah (the coolest man to ever wield a wooden spoon). It won’t require 100% of your attention and will keep up your festive cheer.
300 Years of French and Saunders – BBC 1 – Christmas Day – 10:35 PM
If you can make it this late, the reuniting of Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders – a decade since they last collaborated – will undoubtedly provide a burst of warm and playful comedy. Celebrating 30 years of their televised shenanigans – the duo have been tipped to be emulating popular formats such as Gogglebox, The Handmaid’s Tale and there are even titters of Love Island being on their hit list.
Snow Bears – BBC 1 – Boxing Day – 6:30 PM
Hold the phone (on a relative you don’t want to speak to), stop what you’re doing and get yourself onto the sofa for one of best offerings this Christmas. Two years ago the BBC graced us with the lovable Snow Chick: A Penguin’s Tale (2015) and now they are treating us to another bundle of snow-themed cuteness. Documentaries aren’t a common Christmas favourite, but Snow Bears is bound to maintain your festive spirit and lift the hearts of every hungover person in the UK. Bring on the baby polar bears!
Little Women – BBC 1 – Boxing Day – 8 PM
Ok so any adaptation of the classic Louisa May Alcott novel threatens to be as annoyingly wholesome, but for those that love a bit of costume drama the latest effort by the BBC is bound to be a lavish and captivating production. The tale of four sisters navigating their coming-of-age against the backdrop of mid-19th century Massachusetts has some interesting underlying themes with contemporary relevance. It will be interesting to see how this portrayal addresses the girls struggling with the constraints of their gender and communicates this to a new generation of ‘little women’.
Black Mirror – Netflix – 29th December
It seemed fitting to pop a Netflix title on this list and for us there was a clear highlight to put in your diaries. The new series of Charlie Brooker’s highly acclaimed Black Mirror will be hitting Netflix December 29th and this series promises to take the haunting stories to a new level of uncomfortable brilliance, bringing on talent such as Jodie Foster to direct an episode. Whether you believe techno-paranoia concerns you – Black Mirror will ensure it does.
McMafia – BBC 1 – New Years Day – 9 PM
A little out of the Christmas period but the start of this new 8-part thriller from BBC 1 is too exciting to cut the list short. James Norton – who as we all know can play anything from a psycho (Happy Valley) to a detective-priest (Granchester) – will now be portraying an English-raised son of Russian whose criminal past comes to find him. Tipped as the next Night Manager, it is bound to be a sexy, gritty and glamorous production on the scale we don’t regularly see. There have even been Norton-Bond rumours flying around – let’s just hope he doesn’t start going on paparazzi dates in an ‘I Heart T.S T-shirt’ and ruin it * ahem *.
There we have it – your Christmas Eve to New Year’s Day TV guide with plenty of time to eat, drink, be merry and watch the mountain of DVDs you’ve received in-between. Merry Christmas!