The main five broadcasters having now unveiled their full listings for the festive period meaning we can all finally get down to the serious business of planning which shows to watch.
There’s Christmas specials from Call The Midwife, The Great British Bake Off and Strictly Come Dancing; family favourites like Shaun The Sheep, Superworm and The Abominable Snowman; drama from The Girl Before, The Tourist and Doctor Who; daytime delights from This Morning and Lorraine; the return of The Weakest Link, and one-off specials from the likes of Joe Lycett and Mr Christmas himself Michael Bublé. And of course, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without EastEnders, Coronation Street and Emmerdale.
Without further ado, here’s the 60 best shows you won’t want to miss….
The Greatest Snowman
Christmas Eve at 8pm on Channel 4
While this show sounds like they came up with the name and based a concept around it, we have to say we are fully on board with it.
The Greatest Snowman is essentially a snow version of The Great British Bake Off, and will see celebrities go head to head across three tough rounds in an epic snow building competition.
The competition will culminate in the ultimate snowy challenge where the famous faces will use all they have learned in each round to attempt to construct The Greatest Snowman.
What’s more, former Bake Off host Sue Perkins is also on hand to preside over the action.
The Great Christmas Bake Off
Christmas Day at 8pm and New Year’s Day (time TBC) on Channel 4
Speaking of Bake Off, the tent is set to transform into the Pink Palace as the cast of It’s A Sin put their baking skills to the test in a festive edition.
Olly Alexander, Lydia West, Nathaniel Curtis and Shaun Dooley will all be taking part, while a New Year’s edition will see former contestants Kim-Joy and Jon from series nine, and series 11’s Hermine and Rowan return to the tent.
Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special
Christmas Day at 5.10pm on BBC One
After a year off owing to the pandemic, the Strictly Christmas special returns to screens with possibly it’s best line-up ever.
Instead of inviting former contestants back to the ballroom, a brand new host of celebrities will be getting their festive dancing shoes, including former Bake Off host Mel Giedroyc, newsreader Moira Stewart, presenter Adrian Chiles, The Repair Shop’s Jay Blades, singer Anne-Marie and First Dates’ Fred Sirieix.
Call The Midwife
Christmas Day at 8pm on BBC One
This year’s Christmas special kick starts series 11 of the hit midwifery drama, and transports us back to December 1966 at Nonnatus House.
It sees Lucille and Cyril preparing for their upcoming winter wedding, while the team are faced with their busiest Christmas Day ever as the maternity home is filled with expectant mums to be. Luckily Mother Mildred is on hand to support them as actor Miriam Margolyes makes a return.
Joe Lycett: Mummy’s Big Christmas Do!
22 December at 10pm on Channel 4
Joe Lycett hosts a big queer Christmas house party live from his Birmingham hometown, which celebrates all things LGBTQ+.
The specially invited audience will be the real stars of the show – made up of queer icons, allies of the LGBTQ+ community, and local heroes in addition to some people who may well be in for some devilish surprises from Joe.
Expect presents, snow, a veritable feast of shimmering seasonal goodies and lots of laughs.
The Great British Sewing Bee
22 December at 8pm and 30 December at 9pm on BBC One
Sara Pascoe makes her debut as the new host of Sewing Bee as the show throws Christmas and New Year extravaganzas.
She welcomes celebrity sewer Rev Kate Bottley, actors Antony Cotton and Kiell Smith-Bynoe, plus presenter Anneka Rice into the Sewing Room for the first of two specials, with the winner of Drag Race UK Lawrence Chaney, comedian Rose Matafeo, Steps’ Claire Richards and journalist Kirsty Wark facing judges Esme Young and Patrick Grant in the New Year special.
A Very British Scandal
Boxing Day, 27 and 28 December at 9pm on BBC One
Claire Foy and Pau Bettany lead the cast in this three-part drama depicting the notorious divorce of the Duke and Duchess of Argyll.
The case played out in the white-hot glare of the 1960s media, with accusations of forgery, theft, violence, drug-taking, secret recording, bribery and an explicit polaroid picture all making the front pages.
The series turns the scandal inside out to explore the social and political climate of post-war Britain, looking at attitudes towards women, and examining how Margaret was publicly shamed by a society that revelled in her fall from grace.
Christmas Day at 10am on ITV
Decking the halls with Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby this year will be Leona Lewis, who’ll be performing a festive classic, while Gino D’Acampo will be rustling up a Christmas feast in the kitchen. Alison Hammond will also be on hand to make a deserving viewer’s Yuletide dreams come true.
Christmas Eve at 10pm on ITV
After two seasons on streaming service BritBox, the satirical puppet show will return to ITV for its festive special.
There’s set to be a shocking Christmas surprise for Prince Andrew, we’ll see Tom Cruise stepping up to save Christmas for Santa, while Rishi Sunak is visited by terrifying visions including of The Ghost of Tory Glory Past.
The Girl Before
19-22 December at 9pm On BBC One
The Girl Before tells the story of Jane played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who gets the chance to move into a beautiful, ultra-minimalist house designed by an enigmatic architect played by David Oyelowo. There’s just one catch: occupants have to abide by his list of exacting rules.
After Jane starts to feel the house changing her in unexpected ways, she makes a shocking discovery about her predecessor Emma (played by Jessica Plummer) and begins to question if her fate will be the same.
The four-part series has been adapted from JP Delaney’s bestselling novel of the same name, and also stars Ben Hardy.
Shaun The Sheep
Christmas Eve at 6pm on BBC One
One of the jewels in the BBC’s Christmas crown this year is a new half-hour special of the beloved Aardman animation featuring Shaun, Timmy and the Floc.
The Flight Before Christmas sees Shaun’s seasonal excitement turn to dismay when a farmhouse raid to get bigger stockings for the Flock inadvertently leads to Timmy going missing. Can Shaun get Timmy back before he becomes someone else’s present?
Ainsley’s Christmas Good Mood Food
Christmas Day at 1pm on ITV
Ainsley Harriot will welcome you into his kitchen on Christmas Day for some fizz and food, alongside some famous faces, including EastEnders’ Shane Richie and Strictly Come Dancing judge Shirley Ballas.
Brian Turner will be cooking a sensational duck dish, while Ainsley rustles up a twist on a Turkey curry and a very special trifle, with drink selections from wine oracle Olly Smith.
Christmas Day at 6.25pm on BBC One
Our new favourite gameshow of recent years is getting another Christmas Day outing this year, as Michael McIntyre welcomes another host of celebrity experts to spin on his Wheel, including Gareth Malone, Martine McCutcheon, Alex Scott and Tameka Empson.
But in a change to the usual format, the contestants will also be famous faces, with Danny Dyer, Zoe Ball and David Walliams playing to win money for charity.
The Masked Singalong
Christmas Day on 6pm on ITV
Joel Dommett hosts a special edition of the popular singing guessing game in which some old favourites including Queen Bee, Badger, Duck, Robin, Hedgehog, Blob and Sausage return to the stage.
Davina McCall, Rita Ora, Jonathan Ross and Mo Gilligan are also returning to their detective chairs.
First Dates at Christmas
22 December at 9pm on Channel 4
Fred and his team are back to help love blossom for a new host of singles this Christmas.
Among those hoping to find romance are a 25-year-old jobbing Father Christmas, a 34-year-old panto actor and a 29-year-old religious studies teacher who will all be having a festive first date in the decked-out restaurant.
Top Of The Pops
Christmas Day at 11.55am and New Year’s Eve at 4.15pm on BBC One
Clara Amfo is joined by a new co-host for this year’s annual TOTP specials, as her Radio 1 pal Jordan North replaces Fearne Cotton to make his presenting debut.
Christmas Day will see them welcome Anne-Marie, Clean Bandit ft. Wes Nelson, Griff, Joel Corry ft. Mabel, KSI, Mimi Webb, Sigrid and Tom Grennan to the stage, while the New Year special will see performances from ArrDee, Becky Hill, Dermot Kennedy, Lola Young, Mabel, Mahalia ft. AJ Tracey and Sam Fender.
Around The World In 80 Days
Boxing Day at 5.50pm on BBC One
An epic adaptation of Jules Verne’s novel Around the World in 80 Days comes to BBC One and iPlayer this Christmas. The eight-part series starring David Tennant as the intrepid explorer Phileas Fogg, Ibrahim Koma as the mercurial Passepartout and Leonie Benesch as young journalist Abigail ‘Fix’ Fortescue.
Following an outrageous bet, Phileas Fogg (Tennant) and his valet, Passepartout (Koma), take on the legendary challenge of circumnavigating the globe in just 80 days, swiftly joined by aspiring journalist Abigail ‘Fix’ Fortescue (Benesch), who seizes the chance to report on this extraordinary story.
Good Morning Britain
Christmas Day at 7am on ITV
Susanna Reid, Ben Shephard and Kate Garraway will kick off Christmas Day on ITV from behind the GMB desk to get viewers into the festive spirit. They’ll be joined by Richard Arnold on location with a very big surprise, as well as a host of special guests.
Christmas Day at 2.30pm on BBC One
The latest Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler animation comes in the form of Superworm – a comic hero with a difference.
When the wicked Wizard Lizard hears about Superworm’s special skills, he decides to kidnap Superworm to help him find treasure. Despite everything, with her friend in deep trouble, Butterfly comes to the rescue, convincing the other creatures to help her with a daring plan…
The voice cast is led by Olivia Colman as narrator and fellow The Crown star Matt Smith as Superworm himself.
New Year’s Day on BBC One (time TBC)
The festive episode is the first of three Doctor Who specials airing in 2022, as fans prepare to say goodbye to Jodie Whittaker’s incarnation of the Doctor.
It follows Sarah who owns and runs ELF storage, and Nick who is a customer who visits his unit every year on New Year’s Eve. This year, however, their night turns out to be a little different than planned.
Aisling Bea, Adjani Salmon and Pauline McLynn guest star.
Michael Bublé’s Christmas In The City
19 December at 10.15pm on ITV
The crooner hosts a one-off festive special to celebrate the 10th anniversary of his Christmas album featuring a mix of comedy, music and guests.
The Chase Celebrity Christmas Specials
Christmas Eve at 5:30pm and Boxing Day at 5pm on ITV
Two special editions of the quiz show feature eight wannabe celeb champs going brain-to-brain with the Chasers.
Presenter Jenni Falconer, DJ Judge Jules, actor Lesley Joseph and comedian Patrick Kielty will answer questions with the Chasers in hot pursuit in fancy dress on Christmas Eve, while West End legend Ruthie Henshall, Love Island’s Iain Stirling, presenter Kate Silverton and Rev Richard Coles will test their knowledge on Boxing Day.
Top Gear – Driving Home For Christmas
Christmas Eve at 8.30pm on BBC One
Chris Harris, Paddy McGuiness and Freddie Flintoff play Top Gear Secret Santa as they all choose cars for one another before setting off on a Yuletide voyage across Britain, where they will be making stops along the way.
They will end up at the Top Gear test track, magically transformed into a veritable winter wonderland of speed.
The Big New Years & Years Eve Party
New Year’s Eve at 11.25pm on BBC One
Olly Alexander will see out 2021 in style with a music extravaganza that the entire nation is invited to.
Years & Years will be joined by some very special guests including Kylie Minogue and Pet Shop Boys, with lots more surprises in store too.
As Big Ben strikes midnight, the action will cut to celebrations in London to mark the start of 2022 before Olly and friends continue the party.
New Year’s Day on BBC One (time TBC)
Jamie Dornan stars as a British man who finds himself in the glowing red heart of the Australian outback, being pursued by a vast tank truck trying to drive him off the road. An epic cat and mouse chase unfolds and the man later wakes in hospital, hurt, but somehow alive. Except he has no idea who he is.
With merciless figures from his past pursuing him, The Man’s search for answers propels him through the vast and unforgiving outback populated by quirky, enigmatic characters. Will he unlock the secrets of his identity before those who are trying to kill him catch up with him?
The Repair Shop
Christmas Eve at 7pm on BBC One
Tucked away in a frosty corner of the British countryside, the Repair Shop barn is already bustling as the dedicated team of Christmas craftspeople prepare for their biggest and busiest ever holiday season.
The team takes on a very special mechanical doll, a traditional German decoration, an ageing harmonium, and a train set all the way from Kenya.
Secret Santa has again challenged every expert to create a gift from scratch for one of their barn mates, with a gingerbread replica of the Repair Shop itself soon emerging.
Celebrity MasterChef Christmas Cook-Off
21 December at 8pm and 22 December at 9pm on BBC One
There’s plenty of action from the MasterChef kitchen this Christmas as ten of the most memorable celebrities from past series come back to compete in two festive themed specials.
They include Gemma Collins, Joe Swash, Les Dennis, Mica Paris, Reverend Richard Coles, Oti Mabuse, Joey Essex, Neil Ruddock, Judi Love and Su Pollard.
James Martin’s Christmas Day
Christmas Day at 12pm on ITV
James will be inviting viewers around to his house as he serves up a fantastic feast of festive food and entertainment for his celebrity guests.
There’ll be a delicious recipe from the two Michelin-starred Sat Bains and James will be joined in the kitchen by award-winning Padstow chef Paul Ainsworth.
The Weakest Link
23 December at 6.30pm on BBC One
The Weakest Link is back with a new look and a new host this Christmas, as Romesh Ranganathan takes over presenting duties from Anne Robinson on the iconic quiz show.
Among six episodes airing over the Christmas period is a celebrity special featuring the likes of Gemma Collins, Christopher Biggins and Bonnie Langford, who will all be vying to be crowned the Strongest Link and win £50,000 for their chosen charity.
Deck the Halls: The Luxury Christmas Decorators
20 December at 10pm on Channel 4
Meet the UK’s busiest Christmas decorators as they race to transform our best-loved landmarks into the country’s brightest winter wonderlands.
From the Natural History Museum and Blenheim Palace to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital and London’s exclusive Lansdowne Club, the design teams tackle unique challenges at each famous location, creating enchanting festive designs to wow thousands of visitors.
28, 29 December at 7.15pm on BBC One
Two brand new one-hour films debut this year as Mackenzie Crook reprises his role as the beloved scarecrow.
23 December at 8.30pm on BBC One
Jennifer Saunders guest stars in this year’s Christmas special of the critically acclaimed sitcom.
In the run up to the festive season, Kitty becomes convinced that Santa has made an early stop at Button House when Mike and Alison discover a man living in a tent on their grounds. The ghosts’ advice on how to deal with him leaves much to be desired, but eventually Mike and Alison learn that they have more to offer this Christmas than they realised.
Paul O Grady: For The Love of Dogs at Christmas
Christmas Day at 5.30pm on ITV
Paul is determined to bring some Christmas spirit to Battersea in another special edition of the documentary series by helping more dogs find a new forever home.
He meets a Patterdale puppy called Pudding who undergoes a life changing operation, and a Cockapoo called Boo who has zero table manners due to his over excitement and enthusiasm.
The Larkins Christmas Special
Christmas Day at 9pm on ITV
Pop and Ma are overjoyed to have Mariette and Charley back for Christmas, but when Charley’s parents arrive to meet the Larkin clan, and the entire village is left without lighting and heating following a power cut, chaos descends on the Larkins’ farm.
It looks set to be (yet another) unhappy Christmas on Albert Square this year as Denise and Jack and Chelsea and Gray prepare for their nuptials. Whitney and Kim’s desperation to reveal the truth about Gray’s dark side and Phil’s crimes put people in danger.
Elsewhere, Rocky’s Christmas with Kathy and ‘daughter’ Sonia faces ruin when an unwanted guest threatens to expose the truth about his real identity.
A Christmas wedding has everyone excited, but as Emma prepares to marry her dream man she discovers Curtis is not all he seems.
After Fiz invites Tyrone to spend Christmas with them, they share a drunken kiss – but could a reunion really be on the cards of one of t’cobbles’ most beloved couples?
Elsewhere Kevin goes all out to pull Abi back from the brink as her hatred towards Kelly intensifies, and Nina and Asha’s relationship is starting to blossom once more.
Meena’s reign of terror over the village continues this Christmas, as her killer past starts to catch up with her.
As her sister Manpreet starts to figure out Meena could have been involved in Nadine’s death, and when a game of cat and mouse begins, Meena sets out to silence her sibling.
Elsewhere, Al is forced to think big as the fight for The Woolpack intensifies, and there’s some new romances as well as a Christmas proposal for Kim.
The Graham Norton Show
New Year’s Eve at 10.20pm on BBC One
Joining Graham for his traditional Hogmanay chat are Jessica Chastain, Claire Foy, Peter Dinklage, Cush Jumbo and Joe Lycett, while there will be music from The Divine Comedy who perform their classic Something for the Weekend.
Plus, what better way to see out 2021 than with some final stories from the Big Red Chair.
Christmas Day at 7.25pm on BBC One
Angela Rippon, Richard E Grant, Tom Allen, Sarah Millican, Mel B and Danny Jones join host Bradley Walsh for a festive special of the legendary gameshow, where they’ll need to fill in the missing blanks to help win prizes for some lucky contestants.
I Can See Your Voice
Christmas Eve at 9.30pm on BBC One
Leona Lewis joins celebrity investigators Alison Hammond, Amanda Holden and Jimmy Carr in a brand new episode of the BBC’s answer to The Masked Singer.
If you haven’t seen it before, the panel has to work out whether the contestants on stage before them can sing, without hearing them actually sing a note.
All Star Musicals At Christmas
Presenter Fern Britton, actor Ben Miller, former-MP and broadcaster Gyles Brandreth, presenter Anita Rani, actor Catherine Tyldesley, and sports presenter Radzi Chinyanganya embark on the ultimate musical theatre masterclass, each hoping to steal the show with their spectacular performance in a night of festive entertainment and be voted All Star Musicals Champion.
Billy Connolly: My Absolute Pleasure
Boxing Day at 9.30pm on ITV
A year on from Billy’s last ITV special, which followed the comedian’s decision to step back from stand-up, he invites us to spend time with him in his newly adopted home of the Florida Keys where we get a freshly filmed insight into the life he leads now.
As Billy launches his autobiography, he shares a personal selection of his most loved stand-up routines captured during his live tours, some of which have never before been seen on TV.
One Night In London Zoo
30 December at 9pm Channel 4
In the third instalment of Alex Brooker and Josh Widdicombe’s series where they spend the night in some of the UK’s most exciting attractions, they are joined by comedians Desiree Burch and Guz Khan as they run wild inside London Zoo, getting up close and personal with the animals.
The gang get a glimpse into what the animals get up to after dark, and even find themselves inadvertently spying on some amorous lions, as they make the most of not having any other members of the public present.
Christmas Day at 9am on ITV
Lorraine Kelly fronts an extra special feel-good episode of her morning magazine show. Top showbiz guests will join Lorraine as they celebrate Christmas with some unforgettable festive surprises.
Mrs Brown’s Boys
Christmas Day at 10.20pm and New Year’s Day (time TBC) on BBC One
There’s another two specials of the marmite sitcom on offer this year. The first sees Agnes recruited to the church choir amid a Christmas tree shortage in Finglas, while a Murder Mystery night is held in aid of alcoholic greyhounds.
The New Year special is all about reconciliation and fresh starts in the Brown household but not everyone seems to have got the message.
Christmas At Liberty
20 December at 9pm on Channel 4
This documentary goes behind the scenes of iconic London department store Liberty, where staff are planning their most magical Christmas yet, after their doors were forced to close due to Covid in their most business-critical period last year.
Can the store increase footfall and put the magic back into their Christmas bank account?
Susan Calman’s Christmas Cruising
20 and 21 December at 9pm on Channel 5
Susan Calman takes over at the helm of Channel 5’s Cruising series from Jane McDonald as she voyages around the Norwegian coastline and goes in search of the Northern Lights.
Fans sad at Jane’s departure from the series, however, can look forward to two new travel documentaries from her in 2022, exploring Yorkshire and the Caribbean.
8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown Christmas Special
Christmas Eve at 9.30pm on Channel 4
Jimmy Carr hosts a special edition of 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, packed with festive surprises. Jon Richardson and Sarah Millican take on Lee Mack and Jason Manford in the classic words and numbers quiz and are joined by guests Nick Mohammed and Joe Wilkinson, and Countdown regulars Susie Dent and Rachel Riley.
All I Want(ed) For Christmas
Boxing Day at 8pm on Channel 4
Celebrities including Jonathan Ross, Asim Chaudhry, Rosie Jones, Martine McCutcheon, London Hughes and Aled Jones reminisce about Christmases gone by, and finally get the chance to unbox the present they always pined for. Was that Mr Frosty, Easy-Bake Oven or Scalextric really worth the fuss, or was Santa right all along?
Bradley and Barney: Breaking Dad at Christmas
Christmas Eve on 9pm on ITV
Bradley and Barney Walsh take their famous RV across the sea to the magical island of Iceland, for a special episode of their father and son travel show.
The Walsh boys will test themselves to frosty new limits in the country of volcanoes, glaciers and breath-taking landscapes, finding Christmas joy and terrifying challenges in equal measure.
Christmas Comedy Club with Lost Voice Guy
Christmas Eve at 10.30pm ITV
Britain’s Got Talent 2018 winner Lost Voice Guy (aka Lee Ridley) is back with a festive and funny hour, starring some of the biggest names in comedy.
Terry Pratchett’s The Abominable Snow Baby
Christmas Day at 7.30pm on Channel 4
Dame Julie Walters, Hugh Dancy and narrator David Harewood star in the animated adaptation of Sir Terry Pratchett’s short story. In this charming, festive tale, a small town is thrown into disarray by the unexpected appearance of a 14-foot ‘snow monster’. The creature is rescued by the indomitable Granny and her grandson Albert, but not everyone is happy with the new arrangement…
Not Going Out
23 December at 10pm on BBC One
The longest-running sitcom on air returns this Christmas with a trip to the panto, where the star of the show is Lucy’s teenage crush, Jason Donovan.
Beauty And The Beast: A Comic Relief Pantomime for Christmas
19 December at 9pm on BBC Two
The world’s most star-studded pantomime is back after last year’s Cinderella starred Regé-Jean Page, Olivia Colman, Helena Bonham Carter, Guz Khan, Anya Taylor Joy and 007 himself, Daniel Craig.
Some of the cast will be returning to tell a new take on Beauty And The Beast, where there promises to be some clever cameras tricks, surprising moments of comedy and some other big guest stars popping up.
20 December at 9pm on BBC Two
Comedy panel quiz QI returns for a fun-filled festive special, hosted by Sandi Toksvig, with panellists Bonnie Langford, Joe Lycett, Sally Phillips, and regular guest Alan Davies.
Madonna, Adele And Lady Gaga At The BBC
18 December at 9pm / Boxing Day at 10pm / 29 December at 11.20pm on BBC Two
This Christmas season, BBC Two is gifting us a selection of magical moments from some of pop’s biggest stars in three music specials that showcase Madonna, Adele and Lady Gaga’s respective performances on BBC shows over the years.
The Big Fat Quiz Of The Year
Boxing Day at 9pm on Channel 4
Who was blasted into space at the age of 90? Which celebrities refused to take a shower? Why were we all singing sea shanties? And what on earth was going on with Tony Blair’s hair? All of these questions and more will be answered in the Big Fat Quiz of the Year 2021.
Question master Jimmy Carr is joined by a panel of celebrity guests, including Sarah Millican, James Acaster, Jonathan Ross, Judi Love and Guz Khan.
Would I Lie To You At Christmas?
20 December at 8.30pm on BBC One
Rob Brydon is back alongside David Mitchell and Lee Mack on the comedy panel show, where they are joined by Jim Broadbent, Rose Matafeo, Angela Rippon and Ardal O’Hanlon to work out who is telling the truth and who is telling some festive porkies.
The Last Leg Of The Year
New Year’s Eve at 9pm on Channel 4
Adam Hills, Alex Brooker and Josh Widdicombe host a bumper satirical spectacular looking back at the highs and lows of the past year.
Aisling Bea, Joe Wilkinson, Ivo Graham, Nish Kumar and Vick Hope will be swinging by the studio, while house band Alex Horne and The Horne Section provide the musical entertainment.
The Cube Celebrity Special
23 December at 9pm on ITV
Lorraine Kelly and her daughter Rosie Smith and Diversity’s Jordan Banjo and Perri Kiely are put through their paces by The Cube, as they compete in a series of tough challenges in the hope of winning a cash jackpot for charity.
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