One of the best things about Christmas is the vast array of TV specials on offer as the nation puts its feet up for a well-earned rest in traditional festive fashion.
And the BBC has announced all its programmes that will keep us entertained well into 2019.
This year, along with all the regular favourites like Doctor Who, there are plenty of brand new treats, which should help make this year’s Yuletide one to remember.
There’s a non-musical version of Les Miserables, and a new version of Watership Down to break our hearts all over again.
And that’s not to mention Mary Berry cooking up a treat, and Idris Elba finally returning as Luther.
So sneak a mince pie out of the kitchen, grab the remote, and don’t even think about braving the cold outside until at least February.
MARY BERRY’S CHRISTMAS PARTY
There are so many cookery shows coming up over Christmas but surely the one featuring Mary Berry cooking with Eleanor Tomlinson – better known as Demelza from Poldark – has to be the one not to miss?
Mary is also joined by newsreader Huw “I never cook” Edwards, athlete Dina Asher-Smith and comic Joe Lycett.
They are all invited to help the veteran cooking star prepare for her own Christmas party, and Eleanor goes straight into the good books by turning up with her own killer stuffing recipe.
Mary will be cooking with the stars
(Image: BBC/Sidney Street)
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CALL THE MIDWIFE
BBC1, Christmas Day
Poor old Sister Julienne’s got problem this Christmas – everyone wants her to become new Mother Superior but she just doesn’t fancy it. Jenny Agutter’s head nun would rather stay with the gang at Nonnatus House – and with all that cake, who can blame her?
Excitingly Miriam Margolyes guest stars as Sister Mildred, arriving with four Chinese orphans ready to be adopted. Also on the doorstep is a returning Trixie – hurrah!
THE ABC MURDERS
Move over David Suchet, here’s John Malkovich having his first go at playing everyone’s favourite Belgian, Hercule Poirot. In the classic Agatha Christie tale from 1936, a killer is travelling all over Britain by train.
He/she strikes in methodical manner, always leaving a calling card of the ABC railway guide at the scene of each crime. It’s pretty tough for Poirot but at least he’s got Rupert Grint playing Inspector Crome. Tell him to get his wand out, that should help.
John Malkovich will appear as Poirot
(Image: BBC/Mammoth Screen/Agatha Christie Ltd)
It wouldn’t be Christmas without an adaptation of a Julia Donaldson book, and this year brings us the delights of Zog.
The story is about a dragon who needs a bit of help at Dragon School and he finds it in the form of a lovely young lady who doesn’t fancy settling down with a man because she wants to be a doctor.
The heart-warming tale, based on the illustrations of Axel Scheffler, features the voices of Lenny Henry, Tracey Ullman, Hugh Skinner and Kit Harington.
The 1978 movie was a classic, so 40 years later it’ll be interesting to see the 21st century version, this time as two feature-length episodes. The lead rabbit brothers Hazel and Fiver are voiced by James McAvoy and Nicholas Hoult with the cast also including Sir Ben Kingsley, John Boyega, Mackenzie Crook, Olivia Colman (of course, it’s almost illegal not to include her these days), Peter Capadli, Rosamund Pike and Gemma Chan.
It’s based on the best-selling book by Richard Adams so no hope for a happier ending then… sob!
Watership Down is returning to screens
(Image: Watership Down)
It’s been far too long since we got to see Idris Elba as dashing DCI John Luther but he’s back at last, and just in time for an egg-nogg.
Luther’s caught up in a spate of horrendous murders across London which threaten to bamboozle him and his new recruit DS Catherine Halliday, played by Wunmi Mosaku.
He has to face some demons of his own and then has to decide who to protect and who to sacrifice.
Also – has anyone seen Alice?
Idris Elba as Luther and Wunmi Mosaku as DS Halliday
(Image: BBC / Des Willie)
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Pride & Prejudice writer Andrew Davies tackles this literary classic for TV – and there’s not a song in sight.
His version of Victor Hugo’s 19th Century classic will bring to life the battle between Jean Valjean (Dominic West) and Javert (David Oyelowo) against the backdrop of the French revolution for the small screen.
Lily Collins plays Fantine and Olivia Colman (told you) is both Monsieur and Madame Thenardier. Six wonderful episodes are surely destined for Sunday nights throughout winter.
Olivia Coleman in Les Miserables
(Image: BBC/Lookout Point/Robert Viglasky)
BBC1, New Year’s Day
Some people were terribly upset to hear that Doctor Who will break with tradition and go out at New Year rather than Christmas Day but I think it’s a great idea to freshen the festive favourite.
In the story, as the New Year bells ring out, 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 the planet? I’m gonna say yes. But it’ll be fun watching them battle.
The Doctor with Yaz, Ryan and Graham
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CLICK & COLLECT
Welcome back Stephen Merchant, of The Office fame, in this festive comedy about the lengths some people will go to to get their kid that must-have toy for Christmas. Merchant stars alongside People Just Do Nothing’s Asim Chaudhry as two mismatched neighbours Andrew and Dev.
It’s Christmas Eve and Andrew has failed spectacularly to get his six-year-old daughter the only thing she wants – Sparkelhoof the Unicorn Princess. Unfortunately for him, it’s the toy of the season and there aren’t any left in the UK – apart from the one Dev’s just bought on his credit card.
The snag? They have to collect it and it’s 300 miles away in Carlisle. See ya!
MRS BROWN’S BOYS
Every year Mammy puts on TWO festive specials, and this year is no different. In the first, Exotic Mammy, Agnes has trouble when she’s given a “wifi assistant” and doesn’t know what to do with it.
In the second, Mammy’s Motel, Agnes and Cathy discover that living with best friends isn’t the picnic they’d imagined it would be when they agreed to let Sharon and Winnie move in after their pipes burst.
And then Agnes also has the problem of having to do a eulogy for a dead neighbour she neither knew or liked. Luckily she’s distracted by Buster dropping a bombshell.
Mrs Brown will be serving up another Christmas treat
(Image: BBC/Alan Peebles)
THE MIDNIGHT GANG
Another year, another adaptation of a David Walliams book and this time it’s the turn of The Midnight Gang.
In the story young boy Tom finds himself hospitalised about being hit on the head by a cricket ball. In the children’s ward he discovers a group of kids who go on night time adventures making dreams come true for other patients.
But Tom’s wicked headmaster, played by Walliams, wants him back at school so he needs to find a way to stay in hospital to take part in one final adventure with his new buddies. Check out Alan Davies as the scary porter…
NOT GOING OUT LIVE
Lee Mack’s sitcom is surely the longest-running ever seen on TV so they’ve decided to give him and co-star Sally Bretton a live version. There will be absolutely no room for slip-ups or mistakes as Lee and Lucy are roped into organising a Christmas variety show for their children’s school.
As time marches on they find that quality acts are worryingly thin on the ground so they have to try and persuade friends to help. With some egg juggling and knife-throwing (CUT!) planned, what could possibly go wrong?
Not Going Out will be on LIVE
(Image: Daily Mirror)
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MORECAMBE AND WISE
Fifty years since they were last shown on TV in 1968, two “lost” episodes of Morecambe and Wise have turned up and will be screened again over Christmas. The 30-minute instalments, part of the first series after the comedy duo returned to the BBC, were originally shown in black and white.
But thanks to the wonders of technology, they will be transformed into colour. Look out for a guest appearance from the late Michael Aspel. What a treat.
Two ‘lost’ episodes of Morecambe and Wise will be aired
Following on from all the harrowing stories in Dynasties comes Snow-Wolf, a dramatised natural history special which follows a female wolf on an extraordinary journey though the frozen heart of Europe.
Things were going so well for the alpha female as she brought up her cubs with her mate deep in the Dolomites. But a tragic event sees her banished from the pack and she must embark on a perilous journey through the frozen Alps in search of a new territory and a new life.
As if things weren’t hard enough already, en route she gives birth to six cubs. This is going to be an epic struggle for survival. Bring it on!
CHRISTMAS SKY WITH CHRIS AND MICHAELA
Chris Packham and Michaela Strachan have teamed up again to explore some of nature’s greatest celestial wonders, along with some splendid winter wildlife.
They visit the Arabian desert in Jordan to show us the star of Bethlehem” while experiencing nomadic Bedouin life by camping under the stars and cook in the sand.
GOODNESS GRACIOUS ME – 20 YEARS INNIT!
This is an affectionate look back at the show’s funniest and best-loved moments from its two decades on air. The special will feature the show’s stars plus celebrity fans from the world of comed, to talk about which of the 100 characters were their particular favourites.
It will also reveal the ten most memorable sketches – as decided by viewers, thanks to a dedicated BBC website for fans.
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