Let’s be honest: Christmas TV can sometimes be a bit crap. It usually consists of dodgy repeats or festive specials of shows no-one really likes and that people wouldn’t watch at any other time of the year.
But this year, the BBC have put together some genuinely interesting programming for you to leisurely enjoy while recovering from your Turkey-induced food coma. From the return of The League of Gentlemen to a fascinating look at the hilarious Alan Partridge, we’re really looking forward to TV on the BBC this Christmas.
So when you’ve finished watching the best TV shows on Netflix, here’s the highlights of what you’ll be watching on the Beeb this year…
The League of Gentlemen Anniversary Specials (BBC Two)
The League of Gentlemen returns to BBC Two this Christmas with three brand-new episodes. Once again, the three performing members of the League - Reece Shearsmith, Steve Pemberton and Mark Gatiss - will be playing the bizarre and darkly comic characters inhabiting Royston Vasey.
Royston Vasey is facing a threat more dire than anything it has faced before: dark rumours of boundary changes that could erase the town from the map forever. The fight to save Royston Vasey from administrative annihilation will come from unexpected and surprising directions, all of them local…
And yesterday Shearsmith announced when the new shows will air: 18, 19 and 20 December.
Alan Partridge: Why, When, Where, How and Whom? (BBC Two)
In this retrospective documentary looking back at Partridge’s journey from local Norwich DJ to international film star, we’ll hear from the man behind the character himself, Steve Coogan, as well as the acclaimed team that created him 25 years ago.
There’ll be interviews with writers including Armando Iannucci and a wealth of never before seen archive footage as well as discussions with some of the best loved characters in Alan’s world; the likes of Felicity Montagu (Lynn), Simon Greenall (Michael), Sally Phillips (Sophie the receptionist), Phil Cornwell (Dave Clifton) and Tim Key (Sidekick Simon).
Back of the net!
Upstart Crow (BBC Two)
In this surprisingly funny period comedy, David Mitchell stars as an inept William Shakespeare. For their Christmas special, the Shakespeares are planning a cosy Christmas with just the family up in Stratford. Until Kit manages to wangle himself an invitation to join them. And then so does Kate. And then so does Robert Green, who claims he has given up evil scheming and is ready to spread peace and goodwill to all mankind. But has he really suddenly gone all nice?
Meanwhile Will has been rehearsing his latest play ready for it to be performed before Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth (Emma Thompson) as part of her Christmas festivities. But will he make the right impression on the Queen? And does his play Eighth Night actually need a bit more work?
Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC One)
Peter Capaldi takes his final bow as the Twelfth Doctor in this festive special called ‘Twice Upon A Time’, written by Steven Moffat. The 60-minute special guest stars Mark Gatiss as The Captain and Nikki Amuka-Bird as the voice of the glass woman, and will see Capaldi’s Doctor regenerate into the Thirteenth Doctor (Jodie Whittaker).
This chapter of the Doctor’s journey sees the Time Lord team up with his former self, the first ever Doctor (David Bradley from Harry Potter and Game of Thrones) and a returning Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie), for one last adventure.
McMafia (BBC One)
If you’re looking for something a bit more serious you can sink your teeth into over Christmas, try the BBC’s gritty new thriller McMafia. This eight-part series stars James Norton, whose character Alex Godman is drawn deeper and deeper into the world of organised crime.
As the English-raised son of Russian exiles with a mafia history, Alex has spent his life trying to escape the shadow of that criminal past, building his own legitimate business and forging a life with his girlfriend Rebecca (Juliet Rylance). But when his family’s past returns to threaten them, Alex is forced to confront his values to protect those he loves. What starts out as a story of survival and revenge becomes an epic tale of a man’s struggle against the lures of corruption in the modern world and in himself.
Tim Vine Travels Through Time Christmas Special (BBC One)
Master of the pun Tim Vine travels back to Tudor England, arriving in the court of Henry VIII just as the Christmas celebrations are getting underway. This comedy - starring Sally Phillips and Emma Bunton - shouldn’t be too taxing and will be perfect for a few laughs with the family.
Snow Bears (BBC One)
Worried about nature documentary withdrawal symptoms when Blue Planet II finishes in a few weeks? Fear not! Snow Bears, narrated by Kate Winslet, is the enchanting true-to-life tale of polar bear cubs on the journey of a lifetime to the ice surrounding the North Pole. With the arrival of Spring they must travel 400 miles in search of the seal-rich pack ice surrounding the north pole, meeting a host of extraordinary arctic characters along the way from reindeer to narwhals and walrus to arctic foxes.
- 300 Years of French & Saunders (BBC One) - Dragged up all the way from the ocean bed, national treasures Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders are back together this festive season for a special 30th anniversary clip show.
- Not Going Out - Christmas Special (BBC One) - The BBC’s sitcom Not Going Out, written by and starring comedian Lee Mack, returns for a much anticipated Christmas special.
- Pointless Celebrities Christmas Special (BBC One) - Tinsel? Tick. Christmas jumpers? Tick. A whole host of Pointless Celebrities with a plethora of Christmas hits between them? Double tick!
- Top Of The Pops Christmas Special (BBC One) - Top of the Pops returns to BBC One this festive period with a Christmas special featuring some of the biggest names in pop music from 2017 including Ed Sheeran, Dua Lipa, Clean Bandit, Rita Ora and The Script.
- Nigella’s Christmas Table (BBC Two) - Nigella decamps to the countryside for her cosiest Christmas yet. Against a backdrop of crackling log fires and sparkling lights, Nigella shares her tips for relaxed entertaining, bringing new flavours to the festivities and the cosiness of familiar fare.
- The Real T. Rex with Chris Packham (BBC Two) - Naturalist and T. Rex enthusiast Chris Packham embarks on a global journey to discover the astonishing truth behind the T. Rex, the animal that has endured centuries of scientific inaccuracy and Hollywood misrepresentation.
Speaking about the festive line-up Charlotte Moore, Director of BBC Content, said: “Christmas is all about togetherness, and we’ve lined up a magical mix of programmes that will bring everyone together over the festive season. Reuniting a host of our favourite faces and showcasing an unparalleled level of world-class talent; whether you’re looking for laughter, edge of your seat drama or to quench your thirst for knowledge, there’s entertainment for everyone to share on the BBC this Christmas time.”
Merry Christmas and happy watching!