There’s a brilliant mix of TV to keep you entertained as we make the leap from 2023 to 2024. Whether you’re relaxing, celebrating or recovering, we’ve rounded up the shows, specials and films that will see you through
By Torri Mundell, Feature Writer
The period between New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day is a game of two halves, but no matter how you’re feeling, we can guarantee that you’ll find something on telly to reflect your mood. Whether you want to spice up your celebrations on the 31st or curl up with some comfort telly on the first day of January, let us point you in the right direction.
On New Year’s Eve, you can reflect on a tumultuous year with the reliably funny The Last Leg Of The Year, where hosts and special guests alike will poke fun at the highs and lows of 2023. And if you want to get into a celebratory mood? There’s no shortage of party invitations, from the starry lineup joining The Graham Norton New Year Special to the unmissable Jools’ Annual Hootenanny.
As for New Year’s Day, we’ve got you covered with lots of treats you can watch from under the duvet, from feel-good films such as My Fair Lady and Babe, to special editions of your favourite shows, including Gogglebox Festive Special and The Great New Year Bake Off.
Read on our for our picks to watch before and after the bells...
New Year’s Eve
6.55pm, ITV2 HD (CH 115)
Prepare to be charmed by this film starring Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump) as a 13-year-old boy who wakes up to find that a magical fairground genie has granted his wish: he’s a grown-up, with all the freedoms – and stresses – that this entails. We’d watch it again just for the scene where Hanks, a boy in a man’s body, gleefully careens around a toy shop before bouncing out a version of “Chopsticks” on an oversized toy keyboard.
Larry Grayson’s Generation Game
7.10pm, BBC Four HD (CH 108)
Family rivalry, mayhem, side-splittingly funny moments (and cuddly toys on a conveyor belt) were a signature of The Generation Game since its debut in 1973. And now there’s a chance to revisit a special New Year’s episode of this beloved show, recorded in 1979 with host Larry Grayson. Listen out for the “shut that door!” catchphrase he made famous, along with surprise guests.
No Time To Die
8.30pm, ITV1 HD (CH 103)
Audiences were left shaken and stirred after this explosive James Bond film, when Daniel Craig (Knives Out) suited up to play the suave secret agent for a final time. Featuring white-knuckle action scenes, a deliciously creepy baddie (Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody) and the woman who captured 007’s heart (Lea Seydoux, Blue Is The Warmest Colour), the movie is a thrilling – and surprisingly emotional – ride from start to finish.
8.25pm, BBC Two HD (CH 102)
This three-part documentary series captures the immense natural beauty of the most northern reaches of Europe, as well as its biggest challenges. Here be epic, sprawling landscapes fit for Norse Gods, along with enthralling stories of the wildlife surviving against the odds and a deep dive into the people who inhabit the most remote parts of the region.
The Last Leg Of The Year
9pm, Channel 4 HD (CH 104/108)
Spirits and LOLs run high as one of our favourite panel shows takes a satirical look at the year. Adam Hills, Josh Widdicombe and Alex Brooker bring their biting wit to the news stories we wanted to forget, plus there’s lots more funny insights provided by special guests, including Loose Women’s Judi Love and Pointless host Richard Osman.
New Year Singalong: Britain’s Favourite Karaoke Hits
10pm, Channel 5 HD (CH 105)
Mr. Brightside? Dancing Queen? My Way? What’s your best guess for the best karaoke song of all time? We’ll have a hairbrush, a banana or any number of makeshift microphones on standby as this show kicks off with the 30 most popular karaoke bangers you can belt out with friends and family.
The Graham Norton New Year Special
10.25pm, BBC One HD (CH 101)
Graham Norton has been interviewing glamorous celebrities (and ejecting boring storytellers from his Big Red Chair) since 2007 but the show’s format feels as fun and lively as ever. That’s probably down to Norton’s cheeky charm and the alchemy of the different star guests rubbing shoulders on his studio couch. For the New Year’s special, there’s more sparkling banter to enjoy, courtesy of Emma Stone (La La Land), Mark Ruffalo (The Avengers), Claudia Winkleman (Strictly Come Dancing) and Rob Bryden (Would I Lie To You?).
Rick Astley Rocks New Year’s Eve
From 11.30pm, BBC One HD (CH 101)
Rick Astley won a whole new generation of fans when he performed at Glastonbury this summer, and now you can ring in the new year with the legendary musician. BBC Two will be broadcasting an evening of live entertainment from Camden’s Roundhouse, with Astley doing double duty as both performer and host, introducing special acts and throwing to London’s fireworks and Big Ben’s bongs.
Jools’ Annual Hootenanny
From 11.30pm, BBC Two HD (CH 102)
Watching Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues orchestra is as much an intrinsic part of our New Year’s Eve celebrations as fireworks and champagne. This year, Holland will be joined by singers Sir Rod Stewart and Joss Stone, as well as the heart-swelling sounds of the Pipes & Drums of the Scots Guards.
New Year’s Day
10.30am, ITV1 HD (CH 103)
Ease into the new year with this gentle family film about a winsome little pig with a big dream: to pick up a sheepdog’s skills and thereby make himself indispensable to The Boss (James Cromwell, Succession), the owner of the farm. It’s impossible to watch the coterie of talking animals without being thoroughly charmed – or without at least briefly considering vegetarianism.
The Archbishop Of Canterbury’s New Year Message
12.55pm, BBC One HD (CH 101)
Looking ahead to the new year, the Most Rev Justin Welby addresses the nation with his thoughts around the theme of service, whether to your community or your country. Fittingly, he will visit RAF Brize Norton, the country’s largest air force base with almost 6000 military personnel.
My Fair Lady
4.15pm, Channel 5 HD (CH 105)
This 1964 film has a lot going for it, not least its irresistibly catchy musical numbers (Get Me To The Church In Time performed by Stanley Holloway for starters) and sumptuous costume design by Cecil Beaton. Rex Harrison (Cleopatra) won an Oscar for his portrayal of a stuffy phonetics professor who wagers he can teach Eliza Doolittle, a Cockney flower girl (played enchantingly by Audrey Hepburn) to pass for a lady of high society.
Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind
4.55pm, Sky Documentaries HD (CH 188)
With clips from some of Robin Williams’ most beloved films and stand-up routines as well as never-seen-before archival footage, this documentary takes an intimate look at the actor and comedian’s extraordinary body of work – as well as some of the demons that drove him.
Only Fools And Horses
7.20pm, GOLD HD (CH 124)
It’s always a delight to curl up with the Only Fools scallywags, and this special from 2003 is the New Year’s Day tonic you needed. With the ownership of their beloved flat at stake, Del Boy and Rodney have just two weeks to cough up what they owe the Inland Revenue; luckily, coming up with creative solutions to problems are one of Del Boy’s specialties.
The Great New Year Bake Off
7.40pm, Channel 4 HD (CH 104/108)
A trombone quartet wasn’t on our The Great New Year Bake Off Bake Off bingo card, but it’s happening, courtesy of Jurgen, one of the show’s loveably eccentric contestants. He’s joined by some other familiar faces – Maxy, Maggie and Mark – as they prepare, once again, to take on a one-off signature, technical and showstopper challenge.
The Unofficial Science Of Indiana Jones
8pm, Sky Max HD (CH 111)
Hot on the heels of The Unofficial Science Of Die Hard comes this brilliant deep dive into the stunts that made Indiana Jones such a thrill ride. Greg James (Rise And Fall) and Maisie Adam (Emergency On Sunny Beach) recruit experts in the know to scientifically assess the film franchise’s epic stunts, and then even more impressively, try to recreate them. Tune in for all the silly action as the pair evade poisonous darts and try to outrun a giant boulder.
Attenborough And The Giant Sea Monster
8pm, BBC One HD (CH 101)
You’ll be relieved to hear that no national treasures were harmed in the filming of this documentary about a ferocious prehistoric predator. David Attenborough (Planet Earth) joins an archaeological team as they embark on the harrowing retrieval of a pliosaur fossil from a rocky cliff face in Dorset – as scientists around the globe collaborate to bring a picture of this fearsome, 12-metre sea monster to life via CGI.
Mr Bates Vs The Post Office
9pm, ITV1 HD (CH 103)
This four-part drama series heartbreakingly depicts the true events that saw hundreds of innocent postmasters and postmistresses around the UK convicted of false accounting, theft and fraud. But you’ll find inspiration in the story, too; Toby Jones (Detectorists) plays one of the falsely accused who bands together the Justice For Subpostmasters Alliance in order to fight, and win against, this terrible miscarriage of justice.
9pm, Channel 4 HD (CH 104/108)
The reviews are in! Now that the Gogglebox armchair critics have dutifully watched all the Christmas telly highlights, we can’t wait to hear their take. What on earth will Giles and Mary make of The Real Full Monty On Ice? Will Jenny and Lee well up during The Sound Of Music finale? And will the Siddiqui family play along to Would I Lie To You At Christmas?
9pm, BBC One HD (CH 101)
The second series of this twist-and-turn drama kicks off tonight, with Jamie Dornan (A Haunting In Venice) reprising his role as Elliot, an amnesiac still slowly piecing together the pieces of his criminal past. Elliott and Helen (Danielle Macdonald, Dumplin’) have left Australia to do some more digging in Ireland, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be able to put his ill-gotten but impressive fighting skills to rest. Buckle up for some good but bloody fun.
10.15pm, ITV1 HD (CH 103)
Yes, you will most definitely be entertained with Ridley Scott’s epic historical drama. This stunning film tells the story of a former Roman general (A Beautiful Mind’s Russell Crowe at his most alpha), determined to exact revenge upon the corrupt Roman emperor (Walk The Line’s Joaquin Phoenix at his most creepy) who murdered his family and sent him into slavery. It’s the ultimate nightcap for the first day of 2024.
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Image Credits: Jools’ Annual Hootenanny © BBC / Michael Leckie
The Graham Norton New Year Special © So Television / Christopher Baines