Our top Christmas TV picks to dive into this festive season from BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Netflix | The Sun11/05/2023
HALLOWEEN has only just passed and already we are focused on the Christmas schedule.
But as it turns out there is so much to look forward to from major networks including BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Netflix.
Doctor Who, BBC1
As a special present for the sci-fi series' devoted fans, the 15th Doctor will be unveiled on Christmas Day. Sex Education star Ncuti Gatwa is taking over the role of the Time Lord, with 19-year-old former Coronation Street actress Millie Gibson playing the youngest companion to date. As usual, details are a closely guarded secret, but images released by the BBC earlier this year showed Ncuti and Millie looking very groovy in some Swinging Sixties attire.
Death In Paradise, BBC1 & Beyond Paradise, BBC1
The number 13 wasn't unlucky for actor Ralf Little, who finished filming season 13 of Death in Paradise in glorious Guadeloupe just last month. The series returns in January but before then there's a festive special, and the murder mystery's spin-off Beyond Paradise, starring Kris Marshall, is also getting the turkey-and-tinsel treatment.
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Tabby McTat, BBC1
Christmas wouldn’t be the same without a Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler adaptation, which started with The Gruffalo in 2009. This time around, it’s the turn of musical cat Tabby McTat, who befriends a busker called Fred and together they entertain on the streets of London. As ever, well-known actors provide the voices, including Gangs Of London’s Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísú as Tabby and Gavin And Stacey’s Rob Brydon as Fred, while Doctor Who star Jodie Whittaker narrates. It’s warm and fuzzy but, of course, there’s a sprinkling of peril…
You can always guarantee laughs and a lovely dose of sentimentality in a Ghosts Christmas Special, and as this is the last-ever visit to Button House after the end of the fifth and final series this week, there is bound to be a Santa’s sackful of tears.
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Call The Midwife, BBC1
The details of the Christmas special are being kept under wraps, but bosses have teased that the episode will be filled with “laughter, joy and family, with perhaps a tissue or two.” Since Olly Rix, who plays Sir Matthew Aylward, is being written out of the show, we’re worried for newlywed nurse Trixie (Helen George) – does she have heartache ahead? We’ve never known CTM to shy away from sad storylines, so it’s possible… Meanwhile, an on-set picture of the Turner children playing in the snow suggests the special will stay in Poplar.
Lot No. 249, BBC2
If you’ve been missing Game Of Thrones’ Jon Snow or, more accurately, actor Kit Harrington, Mark Gatiss has a Christmas treat for you. The League Of Gentleman star, who has made it a bit of a tradition to adapt festive ghostly stories, has twiddled with Arthur Conan Doyle’s short story about an Oxford student who delves into the secrets of Ancient Egypt and gets more than he bargained for, and Kit takes the main role. According to Mark, it’s "a ripping yarn packed with ghastly scares”.
CBeebies Robin Hood Panto, CBeebies
Panto fans will be itching to shout: “She’s behind you!” at the TV when CBeebies’ finest, Rhys Stephenson, Justin Fletcher, George Webster and Maddie Moate, stage their annual all-singing, all-dancing festive extravaganza. This year, pre-schoolers and their parents will be transported to the magical forest of Sherwood where Robin Hood and his Merry Band (CBeebies are keeping it PC) try to protect the animal inhabitants by fending off the evil Sheriff of Nottingham, who wants to strip the wood of its riches for her own evil gain. Boo! Hiss!
The Masked Singer Christmas Special, ITV1
In a sign of just how big the bonkers singing show has become, this is the first Christmas Day special for The Masked Singer. A source told The Sun: "This takes proceedings to a whole new level. The characters were all brilliantly Christmassy and the party atmosphere was off the scale." And if presenter Joel Dommett isn’t wearing a festive bauble-bedecked suit, we’ll eat our Christmas tree…
The Winter King, ITVX
A visually stunning fantasy drama is just what every Christmas needs and ITVX have got it nicely snow-covered with this upcoming alternative historical take on the Arthurian legends, based on Bernard Cornwell’s Warlord Chronicles. Iain de Castecker takes on the lead role of Arthur Pendragon – aka King Arthur – who has been banished in Post-Roman Dark Age Britain by the Saxons, while Eddie Marsan plays his father, High King Uther, and newcomers Nathaniel Martello-White and Jordan Alexandra play Merlin and the beautiful exiled Princess of Henis Wyren, Guinevere, respectively. An epic tale.
Mog's Christmas, C4
Not to be outdone by Tabby McTat, Mog – the original cat character created by Judith Kerr over 50 years ago – has a festive adventure of her own. Feeling ignored amidst the Christmas chaos, Mog scrambles out on to the roof and spends a magical evening in the snow on Christmas Eve before being tempted back down the chimney by the wafting smell of a breakfast feast… Benedict Cumberbatch and Claire Foy voice Mog’s owners, Mr and Mrs Thomas, while Miriam Margolyes’ dulcet tones portray an aunt who’s come to stay.
The Piano Christmas Special, C4
Claudia Winkleman, Mika and Lang Lang return to London’s King’s Cross Station for a seasonal special of their feel-good hit. Some of your favourite pianists from series one will return to play festive numbers in front of commuters, plus there'll be celebrity surprises and some gift giving.
All Creatures Great And Small Christmas Special, C5
It's been quite the year for the residents of Darrowby, with Tristan away at war, new London vet Richard Carmody joining the practice and James and Helen expecting the pitter-patter of tiny feet. If ever a show lends itself to Christmas specials, it's this one, with scene-stealing animals and feel-good life lessons guaranteed.
The Madame Blanc Mysteries Christmas Special, C5
Sally Lindsay will return as respected antiques dealer Jean White in 2024 with season three of The Madame Blanc Mysteries, but before then we'll head back to the picturesque French village of Sainte Victoire for a Christmas special. Details are under wraps, but you can expect sleuthing and surprises…
Joy To The World, Sky Max
Here's something completely different: a one-off story starring two great actors which promises to reach the inner child in all of us. James Nesbitt and Timothy Spall play two very different Santa Clauses – one who's just robbed a bank and is on the run with the cash, and another who claims to have fallen out of his sleigh.
Blood Actually: A Murder, They Hope Mystery, Gold
Murder, They Hope’s Gemma (Sian Gibson) and Terry (Johnny Vegas) get their own Christmas caper in which they yet again find themselves in the midst of a murderous catastrophe. As the body count rises over the course of Santa parades, gift exchanges and competitive Christmas challenges, Gemma tries to salvage their first Christmas as Mr and Mrs, while Terry is intent on solving the murders so he can get back to his gourmet turkey… Sherrie Hewson, Sarah Hadland and Lee Mack are back, while new cast members include Jane Horrocks and Robert Webb.
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The Crown part 2, Netflix
The eagerly-awaited sixth series of The Crown drops next week, but those sneaky execs at Netflix are making us wait for ‘part 2’ until mid-December. Over six episodes, the final chapter will tell the story of Prince William’s return to Eton after the tragic death of his mother and incorporates the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, the marriage of Charles and Camilla, and Wills and Kate’s love story. The series ends in 2005, so they’ve not had to deal with the thorny issue of Meghan… Accident or design? You decide.
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