What to watch this Christmas | Virgin Media
What to watch this Christmas

What to watch this Christmas



Time Lords and superheroes, bear hunts and bake offs, and one very brave dragonslayer. They’re among the highlights to catch this festive season…




We’re Going on a Bear Hunt

Christmas Eve at 7.30pm on Channel 4 (CH 104)

Why you should watch: One of the most popular children’s books EVER has been lovingly turned into an old-fashioned, hand-drawn animation.

Hand-drawn?: Yep. Take that, Pixar!

What’s the story?: A family go on a bear hunt. Simple, but the book’s sold over 9 million copies.

Who’s playing the bear?: None other than the book’s author, Michael Rosen!

Extra reason to watch: It’s from the people behind The Snowman. So now you HAVE to watch it.

Available after broadcast in Catch Up > All 4

The Great Christmas Bake Off

Christmas Day at 4.45pm on BBC One (CH 101)

Why you should watch: It’s the last time Bake Off will ever be on the BBC, so missing this is akin to treason.

What’s on the menu?: Four former contestants will be back in the tent to whip up some festive grub.

Is it a competition?: Yep, we’re about to see the crowning of the very first Bake Off Christmas champion.

What to say: “They missed a trick not making this A Christmas Carol-themed, with Paul as Scrooge.”

What not to say: “Gfnsnffnsghfnf.” (That’s the sound of you blubbing into a hanky about this being the last Bake Off to feature Mary and Mel and Sue. You big baby.)

Available after broadcast in Catch Up > BBC iPlayer

Doctor Who Christmas Special

Christmas Day at 5.45pm on BBC One (CH 101)

Why you should watch: Because not watching the Doctor Who Christmas Special would be akin to having pizza for Christmas dinner, or belching in the presence of the Queen. It’s just wrong.

What’s in store?: After a way-too-long hiatus, the Time Lord swoops back into action in a story involving a superhero. Woop.

Is new companion Bill in it?: Hold your horses, we’ll have to wait till 2017 for her to come along.

Really, though?: We wouldn’t put it past those sneaky showrunners to sneak in a Bill cameo right at the end.

Bonus brilliant thing: Matt Lucas is back as Nardole, TV’s second most famous duffel-coat wearer after Jonathan Creek.

Available after broadcast in Catch Up > BBC iPlayer

The Last Dragonslayer

Christmas Day at 5.45pm on Sky1 (CH 110)

Why you should watch: A magical extravaganza with dragons, wizards and, er, supermarkets, this is just the thing for the whole family to gather around at Christmas.

What’s the gist?: We follow our heroine Jennifer Strange as she takes on the mantle of dragonslayer, in a story which blends medieval fantasy with contemporary life (ie, supermarkets).

Voice recognition analysis: That person you hear voicing the last dragon, Maltcaisson, is indeed Richard E Grant.

Scene-stealer alert: Matt Berry, plummy-voiced star of Toast Of London, is magnificently cast as wicked tyrant King Snodd.

Also look out for: An unrecognisable Ricky Tomlinson as Moobin, who looks to be a kind of dotty take on Dumbledore.

Available after broadcast in Catch Up > Sky 1

Maigret’s Dead Man

Christmas Day at 9pm on ITV (CH 101)

Why you should watch: Rowan Atkinson’s softly-spoken detective is just the thing to aid digestion when you’re slumped on the sofa in a pudding-coma.

What’s the case?: Our sober-suited sleuth is delving into the murder of a seemingly ordinary and anonymous Parisian.

Is that all?: There’s also the small matter of a marauding gang killing people in a number of rustic locations.

What to say: “Rowan Atkinson proves he can do ‘serious’ as well as ‘silly’ in this winning adaptation of the classic stories.”

What not to say: “Ah, a spate of terrifying killings in France. Doesn’t get much more festive than that.”

Available after broadcast in Catch Up > ITV Hub

Peter Pan Goes Wrong

Date and time to be confirmed – BBC One (101)

Why you should watch: The super-acclaimed stage show comes to the BBC, and even panto-haters will love it.

What’s the set-up?: Filmed in front of a live audience, an amateur dramatics group puts on Pan. And all hell breaks loose.

What to expect: Slapstick farce, zany pratfalls and more laugh-out-loud moments than you can shake a hook-hand at.

Comedy casting alert: Noble thespian David Suchet will be trying to keep a straight face as the narrator.

Best watched when: Not consuming any cake, chocolates or port, because it WILL come flying out of your chortling mouth.

Available after broadcast in Catch Up > BBC iPlayer

Inside No 9: The Devil Of Christmas

Tuesday 27 December at 10pm on BBC Two (CH 102)

Why you should watch: This tale from macabre maestros Pemberton and Shearsmith is the perfect antidote to sappy Christmas sentimentality.

What’s the gist?: Set in the 1970s, it follows a family holidaying an alpine chalet, and involves a creature called Krampus.

What’s Krampus?: You know if Santa Claus was a) a terrifying monster and b) dragged you to Hell? That’s Krampus.

Awesome homages alert: The episode is consciously in the style of vintage mystery/thriller type shows like Tales Of The Unexpected.

Best attention to detail: The production team actually used 70s filming equipment to give it that bygone atmosphere.

Available after broadcast in Catch Up > BBC iPlayer

Ethel & Ernest

Wednesday 28 December at 7.30pm on BBC One (CH 101)

Why you should watch: It’s a heartbreaking, poignant, lovely, wonderful, very good animated drama that may just make your Christmas.

Also: It’s from Raymond Briggs, author of The Snowman, in case you needed any more reason.

Who are Ethel and Ernest?: A milkman and his wife, whose lives we follow across six decades, from the 20s right through to the 70s.

Fun fact: They’re based on Raymond Briggs’ own parents.

Starry cast alert: Jim Broadbent, Brenda Blethyn, Pam Ferris and June “Dot from EastEnders” Brown are all lending their voice talents.

Available after broadcast in Catch Up > BBC iPlayer

Jonathan Creek

Wednesday 28th December at 9pm on BBC One (CH 101)

Why you should watch: Our favourite scraggle-haired puzzle-solver is back for this special one-off episode, along with wife Polly.

Spooky setting of the special: Daemons’ Roost, a house which once beloved to a Victorian sorcerer who could summon the powers of Hell.

Who lives there now: A retired horror film director who has sinister secrets of his own.

Look out for: Warwick Davis, who turns up as a Jonathan Creek super-fan.

Will there be a duffel coat?: Hmm, Jonathan seems to have outgrown his familiar clobber, but we live in hope…

Available after broadcast in Catch Up > BBC iPlayer

To Walk Invisible: The Bronte Sisters

Thursday 29th December at 9pm on BBC One (CH 101)

Why you should watch: You know Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, but this is the story of the Brontes themselves. And it’s no less dramatic.

Posh pedigree: It’s from Sally Wainright, the brains behind Happy Valley and Last Tango in Halifax, and one of the best TV writers of our time.

Who are the Brontes?: Emily, Charlotte and Anne are the famous literary sisters, although their troubled brother Branwell also looms large.

What to say: “It’s about time someone made a biopic of the women who changed literature forever.”

What not to say: Any of the lyrics from Wuthering Heights by Kate Bush. (After a few sherries it may seem like the right thing to do.)

Available after broadcast in Catch Up > BBC iPlayer

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