TV

'Luther', 'QI' and Fleetwood Mac: The BBC Christmas TV worth watching

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Harvey Day
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Here’s what you’ll be watching this Christmas on the BBC while you - bloated - regret eating that eighth helping of stuffing

The honest truth about Christmas is that the most wonderful time of year can be a little bit… dull? 99% of your time is spent vegging on the sofa arguing with your dad about whether you’re allowed to auction properties in Monopoly and accusing your sister of sabotaging your go on Kerplunk.

So it always helps when there’s some genuinely high-quality stuff to watch on TV – and we now know the line up of the BBC’s festive schedule.

Charlotte Moore, director of BBC content, said: “We’ve got a wonderful array of stars to keep everyone entertained, with the very best in drama, entertainment, comedy and documentaries over the festive period.

“There is something for everyone and I know our audiences will enjoy the fantastic range of magical treats on offer across the BBC.”

These are the BBC shows worth watching this Christmas (and we’ll update ya’ when we know the exact air dates)…

BBC One

Luther

As the monstrous and indiscriminate killings in London become more audacious and public, DCI John Luther (aka Idris Elba aka Sexiest Man Alive) and new recruit D.S. Catherine Halliday (Wunmi Mosaku) are confounded by a complex tangle of leads and misdirection that seems designed to protect an untouchable corruption. 

Whatever his next move, it will have devastating consequences for those around him - and change John Luther forever.

The ABC Murders

It’s 1933 and a killer is travelling the length of Britain on the railway network in this classic Agatha Christie caper. The murderer uses the alias ABC and strikes in a methodical pattern, leaving a copy of the railway guide at the scene of each of murder. Trains AND murder?! Eeek!!!

John Malkovich leads the cast as Hercule Poirot (can he possibly match David Suchet? Doubtful) alongside Rupert Grint as Inspector Crome, Andrew Buchan as Franklin Clarke, Eamon Farren as Cust, Tara Fitzgerald as Lady Hermione Clarke, Shirley Henderson as Rose Marbury, Jack Farthing as Donald Fraser, Bronwyn James in the role of Megan and Freya Mavor as Thora Grey.

Doctor Who

As the New Year begins, a terrifying evil is stirring, from across the centuries of Earth’s history. As the Doctor, Ryan, Graham and Yaz return home, will they be able to overcome the threat to planet Earth?

Written by Chris Chibnall and directed by Wayne Yip. The Doctor is played by Jodie Whittaker, Ryan by Tosin Cole, Graham by Bradley Walsh and Yaz by Mandip Gill.

Watership Down

And a whole new generation is set to have their childhoods ruined with the upcoming BBC-Netflix remake, which is being released this Christmas.

The two-part miniseries will premiere on BBC One and will be shown on Netflix worldwide.

There’s an absolutely star-studded cast, including: James McAvoy, Nicholas Hoult, John Boyega, Gemma Arterton, Olivia Colman, Daniel Kaluuya, Rosamund Pike, Peter Capaldi, Taron Egerton, Gemma Chan and Sir Ben Kingsley. Whew!

Les Misérables

Multi award-winning screenwriter Andrew Davies’ adapts Victor Hugo’s 19th century classic in this new six-part drama.

Les Misérables stars Dominic West as Jean Valjean, David Oyelowo as Javert and Lily Collins as Fantine. The distinguished British cast also includes Adeel Akhtar and Olivia Colman as Monsieur and Madame Thénardier, Ellie Bamber as Cosette, Josh O’Connor as Marius and Erin Kellyman as Éponine.

Spy In The Snow

This Christmas, the ‘Spy Creatures’ are back to take us on a journey across the globe and reveal how living in the snow tests animals to the limit. From penguins to parrots, polar bears to otters, wallabies and wombats, the next generation of hidden cameras will reveal the secrets to their success.

BBC Two

QI Special

It’s Happy (half) Hour down at the QI local, so pile in with Sandi Toksvig, Alan Davies, Cariad Lloyd, Josh Widdicombe and Noel Fielding for the ultimate festive P-themed pub quiz. Find out how to pull a pint that never runs out, how to play pool with a chicken, and how many wings an angel really has (spoiler alert: it’s not two).

The Xmas Misadventures of Romesh Ranganathan

Comedian Romesh Ranganathan is travelling the furthest he’s ever travelled outside of his cosy comfort zone as he heads to one of the coldest and most hostile environments on earth. In this Christmas Special for BBC Two, Romesh gets an insider’s guide to the Canadian Arctic and finds out if his preconceptions about this remote part of the world are right, or whether there is more to this area than the prospect of freezing to death or being eaten by a polar bear.

Happy New Year, Colin Burstead

Acclaimed British director, Ben Wheatley brings his dark comedy about a family reunion gone horribly wrong, Happy New Year, Colin Burstead to BBC Two this Christmas.

The film centres around Colin Burstead (Neil Maskell) who hires a lavish country manor for his extended family to celebrate New Year. Unfortunately for Colin his position of power in the family is under serious threat from the arrival of his estranged brother David.

Happy New Year, Colin Burstead features an outstanding British ensemble cast including Asim Chaudhry, Joe Cole, Charles Dance, Peter Ferdinando, Richard Glover, Alexandra Maria Lara, Doon Mackichan and Neil Maskell alongside Sinead Matthews, Mark Monero, Bill Paterson, Sam Riley and Hayley Squires.

Merry Christmas Baby - with Gregory Porter & friends

Join Gregory Porter and friends for Merry Christmas Baby, a seasonal cocktail of music and song with a warm and joyful, festive jazz vibe.

Gregory’s special guests include singer-songwriter Corinne Bailey Rae and legendary jazz saxophonist Courtney Pine who join him for an evening of traditional Christmas classics and jazz standards. Filmed in front of an intimate live audience in Cardiff Bay, Merry Christmas Baby has all the ingredients of a joyful winter warmer making it the perfect offering for a mellow Christmas night. Performances include Merry Christmas Baby, Silent Night, Take me to the Alley and The Christmas Song.

BBC Four

The Dead Room

Mark Gatiss brings the Christmas ghost story tradition back to life with The Dead Room, a chilling new tale for BBC Four. Written and directed by Gatiss, the 30-minute film tells the tale of a long-running radio horror series of the same name.

Simon Callow plays Aubrey Judd, the radio series’ veteran presenter and national treasure, who finds that he must adapt to changing times and tastes. But whatever happened to the classic ghost stories? The good old days? Aubrey soon discovers that all is not quiet in the eerie radio studio - and that elements of his own past are not as dead and buried as he perhaps hoped.

Fleetwood Mac: A Musical History

Celebrity fans KT Tunstall, Travis frontman Fran Healy, Edith Bowman, Toyah Willcox, Alan McGee, Sian Pattenden and Emma Dabiri pay tribute to the legendary band in this hit-filled retrospective hour.

Mark Kermode’s Christmas Cinema Secrets

In a special seasonal edition of his acclaimed series, film critic Mark Kermode celebrates one of the most perennial of all genres: the Christmas movie. Mark unwraps a glittering selection of Christmas cinematic treats, from much-loved classics to hidden gems.

Bros: After the Screaming Stops

In the 1980s, Bros were one of the biggest bands in the world… for 15 minutes. The rise and fall of Bros was meteoric.

This film charts twins Matt and Luke Goss’s reunion 28 years on, having hardly spoken and not played together since their split. With an incredibly fractured relationship and only three weeks to go until sell-out gigs at the O2, will they be able to put their history aside and come together to play the show of their lives?

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(Images: BBC / Getty)