What to watch on TV this Christmas!

What to watch on TV this Christmas!

From stunning dramas and documentaries to brilliant comedy and kids’ shows, check out our Yuletide TV guide

Here are the best programmes to watch on TV this Christmas. You’ll probably need until at least the middle of January 2020 to watch them all…

Christmas 2019 on TV

Everything is better at Christmas – food, parties and most certainly the room in your home that has suddenly gained a glittery tree fresh from the forest. But Christmas TV tops everything. It’s where every channel saves its very best fare, meaning every day really does feel like Christmas. Wizzard’s dream has finally come true!

 

But you’ve got enough to do this festive season without spending time searching for what to watch. So, we’ve pulled together the best TV treats to keep you ho-ho-ho-ing well into the New Year. Keep checking back to this page regularly for updates as more seasonal shows are revealed.

 

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Drama

Entertainment

Comedy

Kids

Documentary
 

 

 

A Christmas Carol


From Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight (and airing over three consecutive nights) comes this three-part original retelling of the classic ghost story. Starring Guy Pearce as Mr Humbug, aka Ebenezer Scrooge, Andy Serkis (Black Panther), Stephen Graham (Line Of Duty) and fellow Peaky Blinders alumni Charlotte Riley, you’ve never seen Charles Dickens like this before.

 

When can I watch it and on what channel?

A Christmas Carol will air on BBC One HD (CH 101/108) on Sunday 22 December, Monday 23 December and Christmas Eve.

 

Call The Midwife


The midwives are called north this Yuletide to the Outer Hebrides, where the local residents are in desperate need of nurses and midwives. Miriam Margolyes also returns as Mother Mildred. Creator Heidi Thomas promises “wild seas, stormy skies and some very disobedient sheep”. They’ve set the baaaaaa high, then.

 

When can I watch them and on what channel?

Call The Midwife will air on BBC One HD (CH 101/108) on Christmas Day.

 

The Trial Of Christine Keeler


Telling the story of one of the most infamous scandals in British history, which became known as the Profumo Affair, this new six-part series promises a fresh take on the tale people think they know so well. It stars Kingsman’s Sophie Cookson as the titular young woman at the centre of the political storm, alongside James Norton, Emilia Fox and Ben Miles.

 

When can I watch it and on what channel?

The Trial Of Christine Keeler will air on BBC One HD (CH 101/108) on Sunday 29 December.

 

EastEnders, Coronation Street, Emmerdale, Hollyoaks

As you’d expect, this year’s soaps will feature happy families laughing and joking and… nah, it’s bound to all be kicking off. Christmas in Soapland is a time for big drama, massive shocks and maybe a mild punch-up or the death of a beloved character. Like Santa Claus, expect them to deliver everything you want this Christmas.

 

When can I watch them and on what channel?

EastEnders will air on BBC One HD (CH 101/108) throughout December.

 

Coronation Street will air on ITV/HD (CH 103/113) throughout December.

 

Emmerdale will air on ITV/HD (CH 103/113) throughout December.

 

Hollyoaks will air on Channel 4/HD (CH 104/141) throughout December.

 

Martin’s Close

Peter Capaldi in Martin’s Close


After the success of The Dead Room last Christmas comes a new Mark Gatiss ghost story, this time starring Peter Capaldi. It’s based on MR James’ spooky tale about John Martin (Wilf Scolding, Game Of Thrones), a man facing the gallows for murder. Trouble is, his supposed victim has been spotted since her “death”.

 

When can I watch them and on what channel?

Martin’s Close will air on BBC Four HD (CH 107) on Christmas Eve.

 

Doctor Who


VRWORRRRP! VRWORRRRP! Either the TARDIS is materialising, or someone in your household has been going a bit heavy on the sprouts. The new series starring Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor promises new foes as well as classic villains (some of which you may see in the teaser trailer). Featuring a much better screwdriver than the one your father-in-law got you for Christmas.

 

When can I watch it and on what channel?

Doctor Who will air on BBC One HD (CH 101/108) on New Year’s Day.

 

 

 

Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special

As you reach for your fourth helping of Christmas pudding, watch as six former Strictly Come Dancing contestants move around the dancefloor burning off more calories in two minutes than you will over the entire festive period. Holby City's Chizzy Akudolu, Debbie McGee, soap actress Gemma Atkinson, YouTuber Joe Sugg, TV presenter Mark Wright and Good Morning Britain’s Richard Arnold complete the line-up, but unlike the main show, it’s up to the studio audience to crown the champs.

 

When can I watch it and on what channel?

Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special will air on BBC One HD (CH 101/108) on Christmas Day.

 

Top Of The Pops – Christmas and New Year Specials

You know the score. Two specials dedicated to 2019’s most popular songs, frequently punctuated with family members complaining about the music or asking questions so you miss most of your favourite tracks. Bonus points awarded if you can get your gran nodding along to Stormzy come the end.

 

When can I watch it and on what channel?

Top Of The Pops will air on BBC One HD (CH 101/108) on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

 

The Great Christmas Bake Off

The only thing bluer than a snowman’s nipples are Paul Hollywood’s eyes. Catch their steely stare as he returns to the famous tent in two specials alongside Prue Leith, Noel Fielding and Sandi Toksvig, plus Tom and Yan from 2017, and Briony and Terry from 2018, all hoping to be crowned festive champion. Meanwhile, the New Year’s Day episode sees the cast of Derry Girls enter the famous tent.

 

When can I watch it and on what channel?

The Great Christmas Bake Off will air on Channel 4/HD (CH 104/141) on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

 

BBC Sports Personality Of The Year

What a belter of a year it has been for sport. And this annual celebration of the past 12 months of sporting greatness is always a December highlight. Presenters Gary Lineker and Clare Balding will be on hand to guide you through the triumphs and tribulations as the nation crowns just one as Sports Personality of the Year.

 

When can I watch it and on what channel?

BBC Sports Personality Of The Year will air on BBC One HD (CH 101/108), Sunday 15 December.

 

Dancing On Ice at Christmas

It’s the time of year when everyone hits a temporary ice rink (often literally if they can’t actually skate). Dancing On Ice at Christmas is an altogether safer way to enjoy that festive pastime. Then again, Gemma Collins has been booked for this festive special, so you might end up slipping a disc from laughing so much. (Sadly, John Barrowman has replaced Jason Gardiner, so no repeat of their famous rows).

 

When can I watch it and on what channel?

Dancing On Ice at Christmas will air on ITV/HD (CH 103/113) on Sunday 22 December.

 

Richard Osman’s World Cup of the Decade

In case you haven’t noticed, we’re about to enter a new decade. To bid goodbye to the “tenties” (a decade that sounds like how the cast of Made In Chelsea describe camping), Osman will celebrate the best of the past ten years, including film, TV, song, celebrity and – enigmatically – ”best new thing“.

 

When can I watch it and on what channel?

Richard Osman’s World Cup Of The Decade will air on Channel 4/HD (CH 104/141) on Friday 27 December.

 

It’s Not The Robbie Williams Christmas Show

Except, in almost every other way, it absolutely is the Robbie Williams Christmas show. Filmed at the newly restored Alexandra Palace Theatre, it’s a night filled with music, entertainment and celebrity guests. An excuse for a good old family sing song, right up to the point where granny’s teeth go flying during the high bit in ‘Angels’.

 

When can I watch it and on what channel?

It’s Not the Robbie Williams Christmas Show will air on ITV/HD (CH 103/113) on Sunday 8 December.

 

Kylie’s Secret Night

Kylie at Christmas – it makes as much sense as wrapping sausages in additional pork (TL;DR it makes complete sense). Filmed in front of a specially invited audience of passionate and unsuspecting fans, they think they’re attending a fan event hosted by Alan Carr… but end up spending the night with the lady herself in a musical and chat extravaganza.

 

When can I watch it and on what channel?

Kylie’s Secret Night will air on Channel 4/HD (CH 104/141) on Christmas Day.

 

Ball and Boe: A Very Merry Christmas

Alfie Boe and Michael Ball give their lungs another airing in this one-off special. Less a night of music (although there will be plenty of that from these West End legends), and more an evening revelling in a truly beautiful bromance. It’s the hugely popular pair’s third special for ITV, and you’d hope they won’t stop at a trilogy.

 

When can I watch it and on what channel?

Ball and Boe: A Very Merry Christmas will air on ITV/HD (CH 103/113) on Friday 20 December.

 

The Celebrity Crystal Maze: Christmas Special

Imagine Catherine Tyldesley, Shirley Ballas, Gareth Malone, Scarlett Moffatt and Nish Kumar locked in a maze with Richard Ayoade. You’ve just imagined this festive edition of The Crystal Maze. It also features Richard Wilson as Father Christmas. All together now: “I don’t believe it!“

 

When can I watch it and on what channel?

The Crystal Maze: Celebrity Christmas Special will air on Channel 4/HD (CH 104/141) on Monday 23 December.

 

Gogglebox: Best of 2019

It’s still the best show on TV, and we’ll get into a skip and arm wrestle anyone who disagrees. This Christmas Eve special might just be a “best bits” show, but why wouldn’t you want to crack out some ‘nog and spend an evening with the sharpest TV critics as they review the best and the rest from the past 12 months of telly? The celebrity edition, which airs a few days earlier, is also a much-watch.

 

When can I watch it and on what channel?

Gogglebox: Best Of 2019 will air on Christmas Eve, and Celebrity Gogglebox: Best Bits will air Friday 20 December, both on Channel 4/HD (CH 104/141).

 

Flirty Dancing Stand Up To Cancer Special

This show was one of the absolute TV highlights of 2019; two strangers learning a couple’s dance routine in secret to be performed with their prospective partner the first time they meet was a genius idea. This Stand Up To Cancer special sees Loose Women’s Coleen Nolan and Made In Chelsea’s Miles Nazaire on the hunt for love.

 

When can I watch it and on what channel?

Flirty Dancing Stand Up To Cancer Special will air on Channel 4/HD (CH 104/141) on Friday 20 December.

 

 

 

Gavin & Stacey


Oh! In the immortal words of philosopher LL Cool J, “Don’t call it a comeback!” Although let’s be honest, it’s absolutely a comeback. Gavin & Stacey is back after bowing out on New Year’s Day 2010. We left the couple expecting their first child, while Smithy and Nessa had moved in together. But in those ten years… what’s occurring?

 

When can I watch it and on what channel?

Gavin & Stacey will air on BBC One HD (CH 101/108) on Christmas Day. Find out more about the return of the show here.

 

Cinderella: After Ever After


If you’ve ever wondered what happens following a “happily ever after”, this new comedy starring Car Share’s Sian Gibson (Cinderella) and David Walliams (Prince Charming) might shed some light. We’re expecting big laughs and Cinderella misplacing footwear with the same sense of wild abandonment your dad displays with his car keys.

 

When can I watch it and on what channel?

Cinderella: After Ever After will air on Sky One/HD (CH 110/109) on Christmas Eve.

 

Mrs Brown’s Boys

The comedy juggernaut continues its run this Christmas with more specials. If you haven’t got on board, it’s unlikely this year’s episodes will suddenly convert you to the exploits of Agnes Browne (Brendan O’Carroll) and her extended family. But for the millions who watch and love it, this is a Christmas treat that ticks all the boxes.

 

When can I watch it and on what channel?

Mrs Brown’s Boys will air on BBC One HD (CH 101/108) on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

 

The Big Fat Quiz Of The Year 2019

Phew, 2019 eh? Looking back at the past 12 months, all you can do is laugh. At least that’s what Jimmy Carr and the gang (including Noel Fielding, Roisin Conaty and Maya Jama) are planning to do as they rip apart the best and worst of the year. From TV hits and massive movies to the streams and memes that got the nation talking (#WagathaChristie), absolutely nothing is off-limits.

 

When can I watch it and on what channel?

The Big Fat Quiz Of The Year 2019 will air on Channel 4/HD (CH 104/141) on Boxing Day.

 

Miranda: My Such Fun Celebration

Hard to believe it’s ten years since award-winning sitcom Miranda first graced our screens – this one-off special filmed at The London Palladium sees the cast reunite for plenty of memories, silliness, dancing and “enforced galloping”, it says here. Unlike a savoury muffin, this is one treat that won’t disappoint.

 

When can I watch it and on what channel?

Miranda: My Such Fun Celebration will air on BBC One HD (CH 101/108) on New Year’s Day.

 

Famalam Christmas Special

Billed as “the comedy sketch show where no area of the universe is off limits”, Famalam has quite rightly picked up award nominations ever since the series debuted as a New on Two comedy pilot. Now in its third season, expect the unexpected in a Christmas special quite unlike anything else you’ve seen.

 

When can I watch it and on what channel?

Famalam Christmas Special will air on BBC One HD (CH 101/108) on Monday 23 December.

 

The Goes Wrong Show: The Spirit of Christmas

The fictional Cornley Drama Society is back, spinning a festive yarn about Santa and his elves trying to bring happiness to a sad little girl and her constantly fighting parents. Whether you’ve seen the group’s previous TV specials or award-winning West End shows, it’s unlikely to be a smooth affair – and it’ll be all the better for it!

 

When can I watch it and on what channel?

The Goes Wrong Show: The Spirit Of Christmas will air on BBC One HD (CH 101/108) on 23 December.

 

Cunk and Other Humans on 2019

This is a good news bad news type of thing. So, the bad news: there will once again be no 2019 Wipe from Charlie Brooker (please don’t write in, we didn’t have anything to do with it). But the good news is that the same team have dished up this brilliant special with Philomena Cunk (Diane Morgan). Expect the past 12 months to be torn a new one via Cunk’s baffled and very funny worldview.

 

When can I watch it and on what channel?

Cunk and Other Humans on 2019 will air on will air on BBC Two HD (CH 102) on 22 December. 

 

Not Going Out

Not Going Out is both a sitcom starring Lee Mack and Sally Bretton, and our three word manifesto for how we plan to spend the entire Christmas period (sorry everyone we know!). Still one of the most consistently laugh-out-loud shows on telly, this festive special sees the pair on the hunt for an inflatable Santa on Christmas Eve. Things turn out well and they head home immediately. (*Narrator: They don’t*).

 

When can I watch it and on what channel?

Not Going Out will air on will air on BBC One HD (CH 101/108) on Christmas Eve.

 

 

 

The Snail And The Whale


Ten years ago, the first animated adaptation of a Julia Donaldson book – The Gruffalo – aired on Christmas Day. Now, those short films have become a Christmas tradition, much like turkey and rows over charades. The latest explores an unlikely friendship, with Sally Hawkins and Rob Brydon as the respective Snail and Whale.

 

When can I watch it and on what channel?

The Snail And The Whale will air on BBC One HD (CH 101/108) on Christmas Day.

 

The Tiger Who Came To Tea

Judith Kerr’s beloved short story is a star-studded affair in this animated adaptation, featuring David Walliams, David Oyelowo, Tamsin Grieg, Benedict Cumberbatch and Paul Whitehouse. Likely to have you sobbing into your cranberry sauce, and empathising (post-turkey) with a tiger who eats all the food in the house.

 

When can I watch it and on what channel?

The Tiger Who Came To Tea will air on Channel 4/HD (CH 104/141) on Christmas Eve.

 

Mimi And The Mountain Dragon

Mimi And The Mountain Dragon


Another unmissable animation, this time based on War Horse author Sir Michael Morpurgo’s children’s book. One winter, a shy little girl called Mimi finds a tiny baby dragon asleep in her woodshed. Can she safely return the wee one to the mighty Mountain Dragon the villagers fear?

 

When can I watch it and on what channel?

Mimi and the Mountain Dragon will air on BBC One HD (CH 101/108) on Boxing Day.

 

Worzel Gummidge

Thierry Wickens, India Brown and Mackenzie Crook in Worzel Gummidge


Writer, director and star Mackenzie Crook (The Detectorists) is rebooting the loveable scarecrow, who first appeared in the classic children’s books by Barbara Euphan Todd in 1936 (and more famously in an ITV adaptation with Jon Pertwee). Michael Palin, Steve Pemberton and Zoe Wanamaker also star.

 

When can I watch it and on what channel?

Worzel Gummidge will air on BBC One HD (CH 101/108) as two hour-long films on Boxing Day and Friday 27 December.

 

 

 

Snow Animals

Nature documentaries put you through the wringer these days. But the animals in this one-hour special have it tougher than most. Featuring Siberian chipmunks, American bobcats, Arctic foxes, ground squirrels, sea otters and plenty more, discover the extraordinary strategies these critters use to survive, and even thrive, in mid-winter.

 

When can I watch it and on what channel?

Snow Animals will air on BBC One HD (CH 101/108) on Monday 30 December.

 

Inside The Christmas Factory

Gregg Wallace is a man whose child-like sense of enthusiasm is unparalleled. He can muster the same amount of wonderment watching pies being made as you would by the birth of your first child. This special explores the work that goes into making your festive grub, with Wallace again wide-eyed and open-mouthed at the spectacle.

 

When can I watch it and on what channel?

Inside The Christmas Factory will air on BBC Two HD (CH 102) on Thursday 12 December.

 

Snow Cats & Me

You had us at “snow cats”! Wildlife cameraman Gordon Buchanan travels to Russia to help cat expert Dr Victor Lukarevski as he tries to rescue lynx from the lucrative fur and pet trades and rehabilitate them to re-enter the wild. It’s a heart-warming two-parter and it has lynx kittens. THIS IS NOT A DRILL!

 

When can I watch it and on what channel?

Snow Cats & Me will air on BBC Two HD (CH 102) on Sunday 29 December and Monday 30 December.

 

Liam Gallagher: As It Was

So, a music documentary airing around Christmas about an artist popular in the 90s risking it all to make a triumphant comeback. All eyes will be on whether this will be this year’s meme-generating Bros: After The Screaming Stops. If there’s one man who’s up to the task, it’s Liam Gallagher. Fingers firmly crossed…

 

When can I watch it and on what channel?

Liam Gallagher: As It Was will air on BBC Two HD (CH 102) on Sunday 29 December.

 

Paddington: the Man behind the Bear

With the achingly perfect Paddington films being shown across the festive period, discover the story behind the little bear from Peru who, above all, believes in decency, tolerance and kindness. When you’ve stopped crying happy tears at Paddington 2, switch this on… where you’ll likely carry on blubbing until New Year.

 

When can I watch it and on what channel?

A Bear Called Paddington & A Man Called Michael will air on BBC Two HD (CH 102) on Boxing Day.

 

Seven Worlds, One Planet

The latest one with David Attenborough’s warm tones rushing over the top of incredible wildlife footage packs climate crisis punch, and it’s one that hits harder than one of AJ’s right hooks. All seven episodes are still available on BBC iPlayer, and there’s never a better time than Christmas to sit through a show that’s both uplifting and deeply depressing. In many ways, isn’t that truly the meaning of Christmas?

 

When can I watch it and on what channel?

Seven Worlds, One Planet is available on BBC iPlayer.

 

 

May your telly days be merry and bright!

If you want to find the very best TV shows, festive specials and films this Yuletide, visit our Christmas hub for the latest news, listings and more.

TV channels: Channels, content and features available depend on your chosen package. Channel line-ups and content are subject to change at any time and to regional variations.

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ITV HD is subject to regional variation. ITV HD is not available where STV HD or UTV HD is available.

Image credits: Mrs Brown's Boys © BBC Studios – Photographer: Alan Peebles

Call The Midwife © Neal Street Productions – Photographer: Gareth Gatrell

Martin Close © Can Do Productions / Adorable Media – Photographer: Michael Carlo

The Snail And The Whale © Magic Light 

Mimi And The Mountain Dragon © Leopard Pictures

Worzel Gummidge © Leopard Pictures – Photographer: Amanda Searle