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Ring in 2021 with top telly!

Ring in 2021 with top telly!

Celebrate New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day with the very best TV and entertainment. Let the countdown begin…

By Laura Rutkowski, Staff Writer

The irony isn’t lost on anyone that the year we are most excited to say goodbye to is the one we can’t properly celebrate the end of! Except, we can – our tellies are ready to burst with great shows and entertainment to enjoy! Let’s hope 2021 TV keeps up this blistering pace all year long.


From ringing in the New Year with live music, diving into new drama or cheers-ing our support bubbles with bubbles over comedy specials, there’s something on the box to satisfy everyone. After tuning in for The Big New Year’s In (emphasis on the word “in”), there’s even more on to help you recover from that headache on New Year’s Day, with a Time Lord and a flying car landing on your screen.


Read on for our TV timeline of highlights as we say “good riddance” to 2020! And there’s always Catch Up if you'd rather sleep your way into the New Year, which has to be better than this year... right?

Top Of The Pops New Year Special

4.20pm, BBC One HD (CH 101/108). Also available in Apps & Games > BBC iPlayer

Fearne Cotton and Clara Amfo are back to see in the New Year with some of the biggest songs and artists from the last 12 months. They’ll also be getting the party started with exclusive performances to round the year off in style.

The Hit List Celebrity Special

5.50pm, BBC One HD (CH 101/108). Also available in Apps & Games > BBC iPlayer

In this celebrity edition, three teams try to recognise as many hit songs and artists as possible. Paralympians and couple Hannah Cockcroft and Nathan Maguire; musician Martin Kemp and his son and radio host Roman; and singer Fleur East and her make-up blogger sister Keshia battle it out to win £10,000 for their chosen charity.

Britain’s Best Selling Toys

7pm, Channel 4 HD (CH 104/141). Also available in Apps & Games > All 4

Keith Lemon presents a countdown of the most memorable Christmas must-haves, big crazes and mega sellers from the 1970s to the modern day. Explore the heritage and design of Britain’s best-loved toys, while hearing from famous faces, social historians, psychologists, toy designers and advertising gurus.

The Great British Sewing Bee: Celebrity New Year Special

8pm, BBC One HD (CH 101/108). Also available in Apps & Games > BBC iPlayer

Following on from the Christmas Special, Joe Lycett welcomes The Vivienne, Lesley Joseph, Sabrina Grant and Sally Phillips, who will be tasked with creating a child’s party skirt and a New Year’s Eve party dress, as well as transforming old clothes into a famous pantomime character. Our money’s on The Vivienne to win – did you see the looks she made on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK?

Pearl Jam: Let’s Play Two

8.30pm, Virgin TV Ultra HD (CH 999)

Who said you had to choose between your favourite band and your favourite baseball team? Pearl Jam’s lead singer Eddie Vedder is from Chicago, Illinois, so performing at the Wrigley Field in Chicago, the home of the Chicago Cubs baseball team, took on an even greater significance during the band’s 2016 tour. Watch live performances, interviews with the band and clips from the Cubs’ title-winning run.

The Last Leg Of The Year

9pm, Channel 4 HD (CH 104/141). Also available in Apps & Games > All 4

Adam Hills, Josh Widdicombe and Alex Brooker are joined by celebrity guests in a two-hour satirical special looking back at the year that was 2020 and looking ahead to a (hopefully) much better 2021.

The Big New Year’s In

9pm, BBC One HD (CH 101/108). Also available in Apps & Games > BBC iPlayer

Yep, that title sounds about right. Order yourself a takeaway and let the BBC take care of the rest with a live entertainment show packed with famous faces and a very special concert before the clock strikes midnight.

The Graham Norton New Year’s Eve Show

10.25pm, BBC One HD (CH 101/108). Also available in Apps & Games > BBC iPlayer

Graham Norton presents his traditional end-of-year talk show as he’s joined by very special guests, who always end up revealing hilarious anecdotes on his couch. Your New Year’s Eve = sorted.

The Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers Live At The Fonda Theatre

10.30pm, Virgin TV Ultra HD (CH 999)

In May 2015, at the Fonda Theatre in Hollywood, California, The Rolling Stones performed the entire Sticky Fingers album for the first and only time in their entire career. Relive the magic and rock out at home.

Jools’ Annual Hootenanny

11.15pm, BBC Two HD (CH 102). Also available in Apps & Games > BBC iPlayer

Jools and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra will be joined by special guests and some special footage to see in the New Year. The programme has been going for nearly 30 years, so it’s gonna take a lot more than a bumpy 12 months to stop this party!

New Year’s Day Concert From Vienna

10.15am, BBC Two HD (CH 102). Also available in Apps & Games > BBC iPlayer

Petroc Trelawny presents this live musical start to the New Year with music from the Golden Hall of the Musikverein in Vienna. Italian conductor Ricardo Muti, who returns for his sixth time since 1993, leads the concert.


4.35pm, ITV/HD (CH 103/113). Also available in Apps & Games > ITV Hub

Lingo is a brand new tactical word-based quiz show hosted by actor, comedian and presenter Adil Ray. In each episode, three pairs of contestants must correctly work out the words that appear in the Lingo grids for the chance to win a cash prize. Let’s hope they’re not at a loss for words…

Doctor Who: Revolution Of The Daleks

6.45pm, BBC One HD (CH 101/108). Also available in Apps & Games > BBC iPlayer

That’s right – the Daleks are back with a vengeance! But how can you fight the Daleks without the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker)? She’s locked up in a high-security alien prison, leaving Yaz (Mandip Gill), Ryan (Tosin Cole) and Graham (Bradley Walsh) on Earth to fend for themselves. John Barrowman also makes a very welcome return as Captain Jack Harkness!

Chitty Flies Again With David Walliams

7.30pm, Channel 4 HD (CH 104/141). Also available in Apps & Games > All 4

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of musical film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, die-hard fan David Walliams will be attempting to build a real-life version of the magical car. With the help of aircraft engineer Tony Hoskins and some eight-year-old primary school children, Walliams wants to make Chitty fly! Move over Rudolph… 

The Serpent

9pm, BBC One HD (CH 101/108). Also available in Apps & Games > BBC iPlayer

Inspired by real events, the eight-part drama tells the story of how Charles Sobhraj (Tahar Rahim) was captured. He was the chief suspect in the unsolved murders of young Western travellers across India, Thailand and Nepal’s “Hippie Trail” in 1975 and 1976. Jenna Coleman (The Cry), Billy Howle (On Chesil Beach) and Ellie Bamber (Nocturnal Animals) also star.

McQueen: The Lost Film

9pm, Sky Documentaries HD (CH 277)

Hollywood icon Steve McQueen, who passed away when he was 50, would have been 90 in 2020. The Great Escape star featured in a film from the mid-1960s that was never completed, with all materials from it believed to have been lost or destroyed. Uncover the full behind-the-screens story in this documentary.

Dancing On Thin Ice With Torvill & Dean

9pm, ITV/HD (CH 103/113). Also available in Apps & Games > ITV Hub

Olympic ice dancing champions Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean travel to Alaska to skate in the great outdoors. It’s something they’ve surprisingly never done in their 45 years working together. This one-off film, narrated by Stephen Fry, also offers insight into the effects of climate change, as it becomes difficult to find wild ice as Alaska feels the heat from global warming.

Taskmaster’s New Year Treat

9pm, Channel 4 HD (CH 104/141). Also available in Apps & Games > All 4

Taskmaster moved from Dave to Channel 4 this year for series 10 and raked in the most viewers on record for its debut episode. In another first, the show receives a festive special as Greg Davies and Alex Horne welcome five brand-new faces to the ridiculous, funny and ridiculously funny game show. Who will make us laugh most out of John Hannah (Four Weddings And A Funeral), Channel 4 News anchor Krishnan Guru-Murthy, Nicola Coughlan (Derry Girls), presenter Rylan Clark-Neal and Shirley Ballas (Strictly Come Dancing)?

Mrs Brown’s Boys New Year Special

10pm, BBC One HD (CH 101/108). Also available in Apps & Games > BBC iPlayer

Brendan O’Carroll’s perennially popular comedy returns to our screens for its second special of the festive season. Agnes Brown and her brood are set for a less-than-happy New Year when Winnie McGoogan (Eilish O'Carroll), Agnes’ neighbour and long-time friend, is burgled and her mother’s wedding ring is missing. Cue bickering, banter and some bad language as the family try to figure out what to do, to hilarious effect.

Frankie Boyle’s 2020 New World Order

10pm, BBC Two HD (CH 102). Also available in Apps & Games > BBC iPlayer

Frankie Boyle returns with his New World Order special to dissect the year that was 2020 – and what a year it was!

What to watch over the rest of the year

There are loads more TV, movies, sports and entertainment to watch out for in 2021. Check out our pick of the best new TV coming this year and a round-up of favourite returning shows too.

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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.

HD: HD TV set, V HD Box, TiVo box or Virgin TV V6 connected with HDMI cables required for HD channels. Number of inclusive HD channels depends on package.

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

Catch Up TV: Catch Up TV content available for up to 7 days or up to 30 days after broadcast, depending on content.

Image credits:

Doctor Who ©  BBC / James Pardon

The Hit List Special © Tuesday’s Child / Alan Peebles

The Serpent ©  Mammoth Screen Ltd / Roland Neveu