On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me, the chance to laze about the house, with nothing to do but eat drink and be merry. If you are looking forward to catching up on some fabulous TV over Christmas, you’re in luck. The great thing about Christmas is that it is the one time of the year we can curl up on the sofa, our waistbands gently straining and our minds a little foggy from one too many Pinots, and enjoy some guilt-free marathon-length TV viewing. From quality drama to brilliant banter, we’re spoilt for choice this year.
Here are Belle About Town‘s telly treats not to miss over the festive period…
1. The Jonathan Ross Show, December 23, 9pm, ITV1
Stars of The Inbetweeners and Downton Abbey – no, there’s a culture clash – join Wossy, alongside Hollywood megastar Tom Cruise. For more quick-fire banter flick over to BBC1 at 10.35pm as Graham Norton gossips with Doctor Who‘s Matt Smith, top luvvy Ken Branagh and comedian Russell Kane. (Alan Carr takes the Christmas chat crown with a Christmas Day Chatty Man special on C4 at 9pm…)
2. Text Santa! Christmas Eve, 7.30pm, ITV1
Baileys and that box of Roses at the ready. Get set for a two and a half hour extravaganza featuring the great and good from ITV’s presenters, introducing all manner of festive frolics – including Paddy McGuinness’ attempt to appear in as many pantos as possible across the land. Oh, yes, he is!
3. Outnumbered: The Christmas Special, Christmas Eve, 9.20pm, BBC1
The Brockmans are jetting off for a stress-free Christmas this year – yeah, right, like that will really happen. Mum Sue works herself up in a tizzy trying to gather the kids – including a very hungover teenager Jake – and husband Pete for departure.
4. Lapland, Christmas Eve, 10pm, BBC1
There’s no yuletide visit to The Royle Family this year, but this one-off comedy – starring Sue Johnston as mum of a northern clan (so far, so familiar) will fill the gap. She plays widow Eileen who heads off with her brood on a package tour to Lapland to hang out with Santa – and they get a lot more than they’d bargained for.
5. The Gruffalo’s Child, Christmas Day, 6.30pm, BBC1
Sweetie, dahlings! Twenty years after the fash-comedy first aired, blonde bombshell Patsy and best friend Eddy return. While Pats is still living an extravagantly debauched life – hiding Class As in her beehive – Eddy’s developed an obsession for Danish drama The Killing… cue a brilliant cameo from its star Sofie Grabol. It’s ab fab!
7. Downton Abbey, Christmas Day, 9pm, ITV1
Downton mania is set to rumble on with this sumptuous festive special, set at Christmas in 1919. Will trusty Mr Bates be stuck in prison and slurping gruel, convicted of murdering his first wife or canoodling under the mistletoe with Anna?
8. Doctor Who, Christmas Day, 7pm, BBC1
An impressive line-up of guest stars – including Claire Skinner and Alexander Armstrong – ensure this magical episode is unmissable. Doctor Who comes to the rescue of a war widow in 1941, to give her two children the best Christmas they’ve ever had. Bless his cosmic cotton socks.
9. Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special 2011, Christmas Day, 8pm, BBC1
It’s been the highest-rating series yet, so expect Tess Daly and Sir Bruce Forsyth to be in extra celebratory mood as they invite five new celebrities – EastEnders Charlie Brooks, Blue singer Simon Webbe, impressionist Debra Stephenson, actress Su Pollard and boxing legend Barry McGuigan – to take to the dance floor.
10. The Borrowers, Boxing Day, 7.30pm, BBC1
A favourite show from our childhoods, this is guaranteed to get you feeling all fuzzy and nostalgic. Christopher Eccleston, Sharon Horgan and Stephen Fry star in this thrilling adaptation of the classic book about the little people beneath the floorboards making do and causing mischief.
11. The Royal Bodyguard, Boxing Day, 9.30pm, BBC1
Sir David Jason’s no stranger to the Christmas TV schedules – courtesy of classic Only Fools And Horses. But this laugh-out-loud funny show sees him play clumsy but lovable Captain Guy Hubble, Head of Security at Buckingham Palace, who winds up Royal Bodyguard after saving the Queen’s life… more out of coincidence than courage.
12. Great Expectations, December 27, 9pm, BBC1
What’s Christmas without a dose of Charles Dickens? And this stunning adaptation will have you dabbing at the eyes with that new hankie from Aunty Val, as Pip is taken to meet Miss Havisham (a breathtakingly good Gillian Anderson) – and jumping out of your skin at the sight of villainous Ray Winstone (just the way we love him).
by Caggie Owen
[picture credits: ralphbijker; BBC; ITV]