We can always guarantee that there’s going to be some great TV specials on come Christmas time, the soaps ramp up their storylines to keep us entertained over the festive period, and some of our much-loved comedies and dramas bring their own Christmas specials. Here are the TV specials you don’t want to miss this Christmas.
Birds of a Feather
For the show’s first Christmas special in over 20 years, Sharon, Tracey and Dorian make the switch to ITV. The special, starring Linda Robson, Lesley Joseph and Pauline Quirke, also sees the return of Martin Kemp in his role as dodgy Vince.
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A Christmas special from the Canadian TV cop show set in the 1890’s following William Murdoch as he solves crime in Toronto using cutting-edge forensic science. Season 10 follows the Christmas special in early January.
December 20, 10pm on Alibi
This Christmas on BBC One, the Doctor joins forces with a comic-book superhero in New York for a heroic special written by Steven Moffat.
The family favourite will return on Christmas day as the Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi, joins forces with an investigative journalist, played by Charity Wakefield and a superhero played by Justin Chatwin to save New York from a deadly alien threat. Matt Lucas will also be joining the cast of the special with Adetomiwa Edun, Aleksandar Jovanovic and Logan Huffman.
Witness for the Prosecution
On the heels of the hugely successful BBC adaptation of Christmas 2015’s And Then There Were None comes Witness for the Prosecution, a spooky rendition of the Agatha Christie courtroom mystery. Featuring an all-star cast and set in glamorous 1920’s London, the two-part drama opens with the murder of a wealthy socialite played by Kim Cattrall. In the courtroom and through flashback, we unearth the truth behind the killing, with Toby Jones, Andrea Riseborough and Billy Howle among the suspects.
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We’re Going on a Bear Hunt
From the makers of 2012’s runaway hit The Snowman and the Snow Dog comes this adaptation of the classic Michael Rosen novel. Featuring the voices of Olivia Colman, Pam Ferris and Rosen himself (voicing the bear), We’re Going on a Bear Hunt sees an adventurous band of siblings journeying out of the family home at Christmas time to look for bears, only accompanied by their trusty dog Rufus. Once again made via hand-drawn animation, this is sure to be a multi-generational festive highlight.
To Walk Invisible
To Walk Invisible takes a new look at the extraordinary Brontë family, telling the story of these remarkable women who, despite the obstacles they faced, came from obscurity to produce some of the greatest novels in the English language.
Written and directed by multi Bafta-winner Sally Wainwright was filmed in and around Yorkshire, the BBC One original one-off drama stars Jonathan Pryce, Chloe Pirrie, Finn Atkins, Charlie Murphy and Adam Nagaitis.
The Last Dragonslayer
This year’s Sky Christmas spectacular is based on the first of Jasper Fforde’s series of novels. This fantastical world blends magic and medieval with the modern day and follows indentured orphan Jennifer Strange (Ellise Chappell) who reluctantly discovers her destiny to become the last Dragonslayer.
Sky 1, December 25 at 6pm
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The Great British Bake-Off Christmas
Before the Bake Off makes its way over the Channel 4 we get two final outings on the BBC this Christmas. Each episode, they welcome back four bakers from past series and ask them to don their Christmas jumpers and aprons to tackle three festive challenges. Mel and Sue will no doubt share plenty of Christmas cheer through the tent, and Paul and Mary will be on hand to decide which of the four will be the winner of The Great Christmas Bake Off.
The Brockman family return after nearly three years away with a special that’s being kept tightly under wraps. All we know is that it’s Boxing Day and the Brockman family has to carry out a special mission for Grandad. They encounter car problems, child problems, parent problems, emotional problems and World War Two. If the adults can’t sort things out, the children will have to.
Returning for a Christmas special ahead of a third series next year, the one-off special sees Morven Christie’s Amanda deciding what to do next following her split from Guy in the series two finale. Reverend Sidney (James Norton) too must face an uncertain future, what with shacking up with a married woman pregnant with another man’s baby.
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Peter Pan Goes Wrong
The West End hit show comes to the small screen with the BBC’s television version. Narrated in-person by David Suchet, the slightly-tweaked variation on the original production sees a collection of am-dram performers invited to the BBC for a special performance of Peter Pan.
Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes
This two-part animation interweaves a trio of Roald Dahl’s classic Revolting Rhymes for a modern family audience. Featuring the voices of Dominic West, David Walliams, Rose Leslie and Gemma Chan amongst others, stories that are twisted into nightmarish children’s tales include Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood and Three Little Pigs.
Maigret’s Dead Man
Following the success of Maigret Sets A Trap, which aired at Easter, Rowan Atkinson returns as the legendary French fictional detective Jules Maigret in the ever so cheerily-titled Dead Man.
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Life in the Snow
Gordon Buchanan meets animals who make their home in the snow, revealing how they’ve conquered the cold. From the polar bear mother who gives her cubs the best possible start in life, to the owl that catches food hidden beneath a blanket of snow, and the plucky penguins that huddle together to keep warm. As well as Christmas-favourite reindeer and the red-breasted robin.
Inside No. 9
The horror anthology series returns to BBC 2 this Christmas with a festive special, The Devil of Christmas. It’s set in an Alpine cabin where a family are stalked by Krampus, a horned monster who drags those who have been naughty to the depths of hell.
The Windsors at Christmas
The soap opera spoof that combines Dynasty with the Royal Family picks up where we left off, ahead of the second series in 2017. Highlights of the two-part festive special include Beatrice and Eugenie releasing a single, Daddy Come Home for Christmas, in the hopes of getting a Christmas Number 1, and Prince William being visited by a ghost of Christmas past.
Still Open All Hours
Roy Clarke’s hugely popular sitcom returns for a third series, opening with this Christmas episode. Granville (Sir David Jason) and Gastric (Tim Healy) find themselves playing marriage counsellors, whilst Leroy (James Baxter) adopts a festive disguise to avoid relationship trouble of a different kind.
Meanwhile, Mrs Featherstone (Stephanie Cole) struggles to get into the Christmas spirit and Kath (Sally Lindsay) attempts to bring the street together as one harmonious choir of carolers to beat Finkle Street once and for all – but does Granville have a trick up his sleeve to help them out?
Lip Sync Battle UK Christmas Special
Ahead of the show’s second series, Professor Green and Mel B get their Santa hats on for some seasonal karaoke, where not too sure yet who the celebrity guests will be on the festive special.
Ethel and Ernest
Based on the award-winning graphic novel by Raymond Briggs, this heart-warming animated feature tells the story of his own parents, Ethel (Brenda Blethyn) and Ernest (Jim Broadbent).
From their chance meeting in the 1920s to the birth of Raymond (Luke Treadaway) and beyond, we see some of the most defining moments of the 20th Century through their eyes: the darkness of the Great Depression to the build up to World War II, the Blitz to VE Day and the emergence of a generation from post-war austerity to the cultural enlightenment of the 1960s.
Walliams & Friends Christmas Special
In this extended episode, star of Downton Abbey and W1A Hugh Bonneville, partners with David Walliams for a variety of comedy sketches. Hugh demonstrates his comic versatility as he plays roles as diverse as Lord Alan Sugar dishing out the hardest ever Apprentice tasks, and even the Countess of Grantham in her new commercial.
In addition, Hugh and David pair up to play smarmy game show hosts of the completely baffling Double Or Nothing, the world’s most embarrassing dancing dads and even Bruce Wayne and his loyal butler Alfred. Also, features mini festive episodes of Middle-Class Jeremy Kyle and Celebrity Slammer.