Today I’m going to talk about 40 Christmas TV treats that I’m looking forward to seeing this festive season.
It is always a milestone for me in the Christmas run up when the Christmas TV magazines are published. Today I have picked up my Christmas TV guide, a bumper issue detailing two weeks of telly heaven.
People are often keen to say that Christmas TV isn’t as good as it once was, but I have to disagree, and to prove my point, here is a list of my selected highlights. There are 40 of them and I have only included terrestrial channels. Plus these are just the ones which I like the sound of, there are 100s more catering for all tastes.
It is definitely a British Christmas tradition to buy the double issue and then get those highlighters out and pick out what Christmas TV you will be watching. I know that these days it is all available via the planner screen on your TV and I will be scanning through those as well, but I always find little gems easily missed unless I have a physical magazine to peruse.
Maybe controversially, for the past few years I have not bought the Radio Times, but Total TV Guide instead. Although the Radio Times is definitely the traditional choice, for the last few years I have preferred both the cover illustration and the way the listings are set out in Total TV guide. So that is what I buy…
But what am I looking forward to watching?
I’m not going to include repeats as I have already talked about my Christmas TV comedy favourites previously, you can see them here and also my favourite animations here. But don’t worry, these classics are all on over the Christmas season and you should be able to catch any you may have overlooked previously.
However whilst on the subject of repeats and if you will indulge me for a moment before I start the list proper. I will take a moment for two old Christmas TV favourites not covered in previous posts:
> Back in Time for Christmas – BBC2 – Saturday 14th December at 3.30 & 4.30pm
This was originally aired Christmas 2015. It is in two parts and shows an average British family, the Robshaws, experiencing a time travelling tour through typical British Christmasses of different eras. The first episode covers the 1940s, 50s and 60s and the second covers the 1970s, 80s and 90s. They are guided and sometimes joined by presenter Giles Coran.
I can’t quite explain why I love this so much, I have it recorded and watch it every year. Here is your chance to see it if you haven’t already as both episodes are on BBC2 this Saturday. The fathers enthusiasm is infectious and the nostalgia factor is off the scale. Old or young, this will tell you all you need to know about British Christmas traditions of the last 80 years, all done in great spirit.
> The 12 Drinks of Christmas – BBC4 – Sunday 22nd December at 10pm
Talking of spirits, I also wanted to highlight this repeat from 2013. Another show with Giles Coran, this time he teams up with his brother-in-law Alexander Armstrong to select 12 drinks for over the festive period.
40 Christmas TV Treats for 2019
So on to new programmes for this year and the Christmas TV I have highlighted to cram into my planner. These are the programmes I will be recording and looking forward to watching whilst eating chocolate in my PJs at 3pm. Perfect.
> A Christmas Carol: BBC1 – Starts Sun 22nd December at 9pm
Firstly and very Christmassy, there is a new adaption of A Christmas Carol, shown in three parts from Sun 22nd – Christmas Eve. Starring Guy Pierce, known in this house as Mike from Neighbours (showing my age). Seems like an ideal drama for the final Christmas run up and always happy to see a new version of a Christmas classic. Looks a bit dark, hopefully it won’t be too scary.
Even in a household of two adults, we always enjoy a new animation short.
This year there are a few new ones to choose from.
We will try them all and no doubt some will become new annual traditions of ours to watch in the Christmas run up.
> The Tiger who came to Tea – Channel 4 – Christmas Eve at 7.30pm
> The Snail and the Whale – BBC1 – Christmas Day at 2.30pm
> Mimi and the Mountain Dragon – BBC1 – Boxing Day at 3.20pm
Christmas TV Comedy:
The lack of Christmas comedies and sitcoms is one of the reasons people often say Christmas TV is not what it once was. That is certainly true, but as you will see in later categories, I think that is because there is now a better range in other genres such as quizzes. However there is one comedy sure to be on many peoples must see list this year…
> Gavin and Stacey – BBC1 – Christmas Day at 8.30pm
This is the big one. Those of you who follow me on Instagram, or who have read my British TV Christmas Specials blog post will know that I’m a huge Gavin and Stacey fan. I consider the Christmas special from 2008 to be the definitive Christmas special, with all the music, food and traditions that every good Christmas TV special should have. So I was both excited and apprehensive when they announced they were doing a new Christmas special this year.
Turns out that there was no need to worry, all the reviews have nothing but good things to say and the trailers all look epic. Phew.
I hope this will be a “modern day Christmas classic” and “I for one can’t wait”.
> The Show Goes Wrong – BBC1 – Monday 23rd December at 7.30pm
> Not Going Out – BBC1 – Christmas Eve at 10pm
> Dara O’Briain: Voice of Reason – BBC2 – New Years Eve at 10pm
> Richard Osman’s World Cup of the Decade – Channel 4 – Friday 27th December at 9pm
This has nothing to do with football, it is a tournament to face off the best film, TV, song etc over the last ten years, should be good.
Next are two entertainment shows with a mix of surprises, comedy sketches, dance numbers and guests. Hopefully, what I call, fabulous family fun.
> Michael Mcintyre’s Big Christmas Show – BBC1 – Christmas Day at 6pm
> Miranda: My such fun celebration – BBC1 – New Years Day at 5.45pm.
My favourite category, Christmas is all about the fun and games, so you have got to have a quiz or ten.
A lot of these have a comedy element in them too, which I think is a format that has replaced the traditional comedies in the schedule.
There are always ton’s on, here is a roundup of my favourites.
> Only Connect – BBC2 – Starts Monday 30th December at 8pm
If you don’t already watch Only Connect you are missing out on a treat. You absolutely need to watch a few episodes to get your head around it, so this series of four Christmas specials is the perfect time to try it out. Starting on Monday 30th with travel, it is also on Wed 31st (happy hour), Thurs 1st (education) and Friday 2nd (champion of champions).
I promise, once you have got your head around how the quiz works, quite often the answer is right in front of you. Plus it is super satisfying if you get a correct answer. If not, there is always the missing vowels round. Have your pause button at the ready so that you can give yourself a few extra seconds of thinking time if required!
> Quizmaster – ITV – Sunday 29th December at 6pm
This is the only new format quiz on the list. Previous winners of other TV quizzes go against each other to be crowned Quizmaster champion. Not sure what it will be like, but got to be worth a look. Jeremy Vine is hosting.
> QI: Quizmas – BBC2 – Christmas Eve at 10pm
Very happy with Sandi Toksvig as the new presenter, not better, not worse, but just right. Always a good mix of fun facts and comedy. The longer version QI XL: Quizmas is on BBC2, Friday 27th December at 11.15pm.
> A Question of Sport – BBC2 – Starts Monday 23rd December at 7pm.
We are big sports fans in this house and so really enjoy A Question of Sport, this quiz turned 50 this year so there are a few specials on to celebrate. First up is A Question of Sport Christmas Special – BBC1, Monday 23rd December at 7pm, it always has lots of silly fun. Then there is a documentary A Question of Sport at 50 – BBC1- Friday 27th Dec at 8.30pm. Finally there is a “50 not out” special edition of the quiz on Friday 3rd Jan at 7.30pm.
> Christmas University Challenge – BBC2 – Starts Monday 23rd December at 7.30pm
I always really enjoy this. Since 2011 University Challenge has held a tournament over the Christmas period with teams made up of famous alumni. There are 10 episodes and they often have Christmas themed questions too, which gives me a chance to get some correct answers!
Note: Be sure to put series link on or keep a close eye out, as the episodes tend to be on random days and times all over the season.
> 8 out of 10 Cats does Countdown – Channel 4 – Monday 23rd December at 9pm
If you don’t normally watch this programme which is a mash up of TV quizzes 8 out of 10 Cats & Countdown, then why not? Now is the time. Bob Mortimer is also on one of the teams this year and he is always great value.
> Who wants to be a Millionaire? – ITV – Christmas Day at 9pm
The celebrities hoping to win a million for charity are; Clare Balding, Stephen Mangan and Catherine Tyldesley.
> Would I lie to you? at Christmas – BBC1 – Boxing Day at 9.30pm
> Big Fat Quiz of the Year – Channel 4 – Boxing Day at 9pm
Really good for catching up on everything you missed this year; news, TV, music, film and even viral internet videos. If you have really not been paying attention, catch up on the whole decade in Big Fat Quiz of the Decade – Channel 4 – Thursday 2nd Jan 2020 at 9pm!
> Have I Got 2019 News for you – BBC1 – Friday 27th December at 9.30
These are the Christmas TV programmes I have spotted that are sure to be properly festive and great to get you in the spirit.
All on before the big day, they are perfect to have on in the background for your final preparations.
> Britain’s Favourite Christmas Carol – Channel 5 – Saturday 21st December at 6.50pm
> Countryfile – BBC1 – Sunday 22nd December at 7pm
> Celebrity Carols at Christmas – Channel 5 – Sunday 22nd December at 5.10pm
> Gregg Wallace’s Magical Christmas Market – Channel 5 – Sunday 22nd December at 8pm
> What we were watching Christmas 1979 – BBC4 – Monday 23rd December at 8pm
> Carols from King’s – BBC2 – Christmas Eve at 5pm
> The Repair Shop at Christmas – BBC1 – Sunday 29th December at 7pm
One of the best shows on TV. I love The Repair Shop and I’m totally in awe of the craftsmen and women who feature on it. If you are an arts and crafts fan or simply love a bit of gentle telly, this is the programme for you. Skilled masters repair peoples broken treasures, I defy you to watch it and not want to take up a craft.
> The Secret World of Toys at Christmas – Channel 4 – Monday 23rd December at 7pm
> The Wonderful World of Chocolate at Christmas – Channel 5 – Christmas Eve at 8pm
> The Last Igloo – BBC4, 7.30pm, Christmas Eve at 7.30pm
Slow TV of an Inuit building an igloo.
> Royal Institution Christmas Lectures – BBC4 – Starts Boxing Day at 8pm.
The annual series of 3 lectures that have been held since 1825, shown on three consecutive nights. This years are all about the power of maths.
> The BFG – BBC1 – Sunday 22nd December at 5.15pm
> Beauty and the Beast – BBC1 – Christmas Eve at 5.30pm
> Moana – BBC1 – Christmas Day at 12.55pm
> Finding Dory – BBC1 – Christmas Day at 3.15pm
> Paddington 2 – BBC1 – Boxing Day at 7.20pm
So there you have a sack full of Christmas TV treats just waiting for your viewing pleasure this Christmas. I hope this has given you a start on your planning and that you have seen at least one thing that is to your taste, or if not, one new thing that you might try this year.