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The 15 TV Shows You Need to Watch This Christmas

Post Author Take1 / December 21st 2015

The Christmas TV listings are now out, and families up and down the country will be circling their copies of the Radio Times for old favourites and new dramas. At Take 1, we’re excited about the great shows available to watch this Christmas and it’s been difficult to decide which shows are the best. Having said that, we’ve finally come up with a list of what we think will be the highlights of this year’s festive TV.

There’s something to suit everyone this Christmas, whether you’re after chilling murder mysteries, ghost stories, adventures through time and space or just a silent two-hour sleigh ride.  Nothing will go better with a shared tin of Quality Street and some mulled wine than this countdown of brilliant British Christmas specials.


15. Peter Kay: 20 Years of Funny

This documentary follows Peter Kay, one of Britain’s best loved comedians, as he takes us down the path to comedy chart-topping singles, sell-out shows and comedy superstardom. Kay’s roots are firmly in the people who’ve helped to shape his life in Bolton, where he still lives. Throughout filming, you’ll see the extraordinary way everyone seemed to know him and felt comfortable coming up to say hello.

Who’ll love this: Your mum, dad and anyone who loves stand-up comedy.

When’s it on: Christmas Eve, BBC 1, 21:05-22:05


14. Festive Music

If you’re looking to get away from the consumerism and commercialisation of Christmas, Festive Music will offer a heavenly break. You don’t have to be religious to appreciate transcendent voices singing traditional hymns and carols. Christmas Eve sees carols and Midnight Mass from St George’s Cathedral from the Archbishop of Southwark.

Who’ll love this: Anyone looking to escape Christmas consumerism and your grandparents.

When’s it on: Christmas Eve, BBC 1, 23:45- 01:00


13. The Great History Quiz: The Tudors

If you want something more from your TV than mindless viewing, the Great History Quiz is the perfect accompaniment to your turkey sandwich.  This Christmas special focuses on everyone’s favourite era in history: The Tudors. We all learnt about them in school and we all know about Henry and his many wives. Hosted by Kirsty Young, you’re invited to test your knowledge against Lucy Worsley, Dan Snow and Horrible Histories’ Greg Jenner.

Who’ll love this: This is one for the entire family, especially history buffs.

When’s it on: Christmas Eve, BBC 2, 21:00-22:00


12. Peter and Wendy

This modern-day version of Peter Pan sees 12 year old Lucy, who also plays Wendy Darling, in Great Ormond Street Hospital for a serious heart condition. With Paloma Faith playing Tinkerbell and Stanley Tucci playing Hook, this production based on JM Barries’ classic children’s book, will enchant a whole new generation to the story of the boy who never grew up.

Who’ll love this: Children and life-long Peter Pan fans.

When’s it on: Boxing Day, ITV 1, 20:00-22:05


11. The Sleigh Ride

A festive return to BBC Four’s slow TV season, The Sleigh Ride is simply a two hour sleigh ride through Lapland. There’s no narration or extraneous music or cheesy Christmas songs, just the wonderful sound of crunching snow and the odd jingle of a reindeer bell. This is slow, snowy TV at its finest.

Who’ll love this: Fans of BBC Four’s slow TV season.

When’s it on: Christmas Eve, BBC 4, 20:00-22:00


10. Fungus the Bogeyman

This classic family story by Raymond Briggs features dangerous humans, smelly monsters and what happens when things that usually go bump in the night end up being your next door neighbours. The cast stars Timothy Spall, Keely Hawes and Victoria Wood for family fun.

Who’ll love this: Young children and grown-ups with an inner child

When’s it on: 27th December, Sky 1, 18:00-19:30


9. Harry Price: Ghost Hunter

Neil Spring’s novel The Ghost Hunters is brought to life, with Rafe Spall giving a fantastic performance as real-life psychic researcher, sceptic, ghost hunter, paranormal investigator and author, Harry Price. Set in 1920s London, Price has fallen on hard times- he’s losing his way despite his strong motivations to unmask the frauds exploiting people in grief.

If you’re looking for the perfect Christmas ghost story, you’ll find it in this amazing drama.

Who’ll love this: Anyone after a good Christmas ghost story.

When’s it on: 27th December, ITV 1, 21:00-23:00


8. Call the Midwife

Whilst past Call the Midwife Christmas specials have been marked by death, despair, poverty and loneliness, hope is never abandoned, as the nuns and midwives of Poplar go about their work. Set in 1960, the BBC will be arriving to record a carol concert and Sister Monica Joan goes missing.

Who’ll love this: Your wife, your sister and your mum.

When’s it on: Christmas Day, BBC1, 19:30-20:45


7. Dickensian

This behemoth of a TV series, with 20 parts, will air its second episode where Jacob Marley’s death dampens the Christmas festivities, offering inspector Bucket a new investigation. Meanwhile, Amelia Haversham’s mysterious rescuer appears at Satis House. This period drama is wonderful at weaving together the back stories of Dickens’ famous tales.

Who’ll love this: Period drama and Charles Dickens fans.

When’s it on: Boxing Day, BBC 1, 20:30-21:00


6. And Then There Were None

Aiden Turner of Poldark fame stars in this Agatha Christie adaption. Ten strangers are invited to a mysterious house on an island off the Devon coast. The tides turn and they’re all stranded together, before murder strikes. This is set to be a brilliant retelling of the best-selling crime fiction book of all time. Get ready with a pillow.

Who’ll love this: Fans of Agatha Christie and murder fiction fans.

When’s it on: Boxing Day, BBC 1, 21:00-22:00


5. Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey is almost over, with its last ever episode airing this Christmas Day. Watch the gripping conclusion of Julian Fellowe’s world-conquering period drama for tied-up loose ends and beautiful costumes. Last seen looking wistful in a meadow, will Lady Edith ever get a man.

Who’ll love this: Downton Abbey’s worldwide fan base.

When’s it on: Christmas Day, ITV 1, 20:45-22:45


4. We’re Doomed!: The Dad’s Army Story

Whilst we’re waiting for the big screen version of Dad’s Army, the BBC are showing a dramatised account of bringing this WW2 Home Guard platoon to life by writers Jimmy Perry and David Croft. This is definitely an entertaining and informative story, reminding us all about one of Britain’s most beloved sitcoms.

Who’ll love this: Your dad and your granddad

When’s it on: 22nd December, BBC 2, 21:00-22:00


3. David Attenborough’s Great Barrier Reef

In this three part series, David Attenborough explores and narrates the vast natural world of the Great Barrier Reef. The use of pioneering camera techniques such as satellite scanning will reveal the smallest forms of life living on 2,300km of coral. In the days between Christmas and New Years, David Attenborough’s calming voice will provide you with a soothing background as you get through leftovers and overindulge in festive food.

Who’ll love this: This is a programme for everyone.

When’s it on: 30th December, BBC 1, 21:00-22:00


2. Dr. Who

This Dr Who Christmas special sees the return of River Song, as she meets Peter Capaldi’s twelfth Doctor for the first time. Whilst he’s trying to persuade her he’s really the first doctor, they have to fight evil forces and team up with Hydroflax (Greg Davies) and Nardole (Matt Lucas).

Who’ll love this: Gather the family round for this British classic.

When’s it on: Christmas Day, BBC 1, 17:15-18:15


1. Sherlock

The wait is over! Sherlock will be returning to our screens on New Year’s Day as the most anticipated drama of the season. Sherlock is going back to its Victorian roots with the Inverness Cape, deerstalker hat and Meerschaum pipe. The Abominable Bride is a one-off special ghost tale created by Steven Moffatt and Mark Gatiss. It’s packed full of references to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original books, one of which you can only get if you speak Chinese, apparently.

Who’ll love this: Everyone.

When’s it on: New Year’s Day, BBC1


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