In the words of the poet Noddy Holder, “It’s Chrriisssssssstmaaaasss!” So park yourself on the sofa, nestle that tub of chocolates in your lap, and feast your eyes on this lot…
Last Tango in Halifax
Monday 19th December at 9pm on BBC1 (CH 101)
Why you should watch: One of telly’s most reliably brilliant comedy-dramas is back for this two-part festive special.
What’s happening?: Caroline, moving on from the death of her wife, is taking a new job at a rough school. Mum Celia gets all Hyacinth about it.
Unexpected supernatural twist: The ghost of someone’s evil ex-husband seems to be on the scene.
What to say: “Witty, serious, soft but unsentimental, this is what all Christmas telly should be like.”
What not to say: “Erm, does this still count as a ‘last tango’ all these years later?”
Star Wars: Greatest Moments
Wednesday 21st December at 9pm on Sky1 (CH 110)
Why you should watch: Because this is the epic Star Wars celebration you were looking for.
Is the Force strong with it?: Featuring a multitude of moments voted for by the public, along with celebrity contributions, we’d say so.
Sample stars: Harrison Ford, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, JJ Abrams, and that two-headed sports commentator from Phantom Menace. (We may be lying about that one.)
Celebrity fans alert: We’ll also get gushing praise from A-list Star Wars geeks like Will Smith and Hugh Jackman.
Will you turn to the Dark Side?: Only if your favourite bit isn’t included in the line-up.
Friday 23rd December at 9pm on Sky1 (CH 110)
Why you should watch: Because Ruth Jones is a national treasure, damn it.
What’s the gist?: This Christmas special sees us return to Pontyberry for all kinds of shenanigans, including a “festival of lights” and delegates from Lapland.
Will there be Santa Claus?: Not sure, but there will be celebrity cameos.
Will there be a proper series?: It’s being made as we speak.
What’s ‘Merry Christmas’ in Welsh, anyway?: Nadolig Llawen. You’re welcome.
Friday 23rd December on Netflix
Why you should watch: Because it’s one of the most unusual time travel sci-fi shows ever.
What’s the gist?: Humans from a dystopian future travel back in time to alter humankind’s destiny.
Doesn’t sound so unusual: Ah yes, but it’s only their MINDS that go back in time, and possess 21st humans at the exact point they were supposed to die.
In other words: It’s a bit Quantum Leap, a bit Twelve Monkeys, and a bit bonkers.
Look out for: Will & Grace star Eric McCormack, perfecting his serious acting chops as an FBI agent.
Travelers is available to watch on Netflix from Friday 23 December
Friday 23rd December on Netflix
Why you should watch: This rip-roaring animated series about a magical hidden world of trolls is perfect Christmas viewing.
Posh pedigree alert: It’s from Guillermo del Toro, the dark maestro behind Pan’s Labyrinth.
Poignant voice-over alert: It stars Anton Yelchin, the Star Trek actor who sadly died in a freak accident this year.
Also listen out for: Frasier star Kelsey Grammer, and Hellboy himself, Ron Perlman.
Quotes to live by: “You have a sweet voice, but you bring death with you.”
Trollhunters is available to watch on Netflix from Friday 23 December
Alan Bennett’s Diaries
Saturday 24th December at 8pm on BBC Two (CH 102)
Why you should watch: Because what could more relaxing and cosy on Christmas Eve than quality time with Alan Bennett?
What actually happens?: The nation’s most beloved writer potters about, reminisces about the old days, and reads out bits of his new book.
What’s the book?: Keeping On Keeping On, the latest chunk of his celebrated diaries.
Where’s it set?: Quintessentially Bennett-ian locations (Yorkshire, a community library) and more unexpected ones (NYC).
Best watched with: A pot of tea and a flowery plate of digestive biscuits. Tea cosy is a must.
All Aboard! The Sleigh Ride
Saturday 24th December at 7pm on BBC Four (CH 107)
Why you should watch: If the Christmas chaos is getting all too much, chill out to this strangely serene film.
What actually happens?: It’s a sleigh ride. That’s it. A two-hour sleigh ride across the Arctic, with no music and no narration.
Really?: Yep, really. All you’ll hear are jingling bells and the sound of snow under the sleigh. It’s magical.
There must be more, though?: We’ll get occasional facts about the local Sami people, floating across the landscape. But that’s it.
Sounds good, in a weird way: Believe us, in the midst of festive craziness, this counts as therapy.
Sunday 25th December at 5.45pm on BBC One (CH 101)
Why you should watch: It’s Doctor Who meets Kick-Ass! Only without the gratuitous wine-making violence (we should hope)>
What’s the story?: The Doctor teams up with Grant Gordon, aka the Ghost, a comic book fan turned superhero.
Swanky setting alert: We’re in New York City. Probably because superheroes just seem really out of place in a British context.
Unlikely factoid: Charity Wakefield, who stars in this special, was in an ill-fated recent reboot of The Munsters.
Best watched with: The whole darn family. It’s Doctor Who!
[H2]The Last Dragonslayer
Sunday 25th December at 5.45pm on Sky1 (CH 110)
Why you should watch: A big adventure bulging with magic, comedy, plucky heroes and dastardly villains? It has Christmas afternoon written all over it.
Who’s our hero?: Jennifer Strange, the last Dragonslayer. Think Buffy, only less perfect.
Where’s it set?: The Ununited Kingdom. Is that a cunning post-Brexit metaphor we’re detecting?
Watch if you like: Anything by Terry Pratchett or JK Rowling. Or if you just love a bit of dragon slaying.
Look out for: Matt Berry as a villainous king. Could there BE better casting?
Call The Midwife
Sunday 25th December at 8pm on BBC One (CH 101)
Why you should watch: The Call the Midwife festive special is as much a part of Christmas as mince pies and miniature spirit levels in crackers.
Will it be a white Christmas?: In Poplar, yes. But this episode sees the ladies head out to somewhat sunnier climes.
Where, where?: South Africa, because they’re needed at struggling medical clinic.
Obligatory tear-jerking bits: They’ll face the terrible truths about Apartheid.
Obligatory feel-good bits: Their Christmas lunch will warm your cockles like chestnuts on an open fire.