Christmas TV 2015: Best drama programmes from Downtown Abbey to And Then There Were None
Gerard Gilbert picks the programmes not to miss over the festive season
David Walliams, David Attenborough, David Beckham, Darcey Bussell, Downton Abbey, Doctor Who, Dickens... the alliteration may stop there, but not the sense of déjà vu as television broadcasts a host of new productions within what is a now well-established template.
Christmas Day’s holy trinity of Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing and Call the Midwife leaves EastEnders exposed to the full might of the last ever episode of Downton Abbey
Doctor Who, Christmas Day, 5.15pm BBC1
It’s a Clara-free Christmas on the snowy planet of Mendorax Dellora, but the Doctor is reunited with River Song (Alex Kingston) – except his old flame doesn’t recognise him. As you’d hope at this time of year, there’s a lighter tone to the time-travel saga, with Greg Davies and Matt Lucas on the guest list.
Downton Abbey – the Finale, Christmas Day, 8.45pm ITV
So this is finally it for Julian Fellowes’ stately-home costume drama, as 1925 turns into 1926, will Lady Edith finally find happiness in love? And what of Anna and Bates and their hopes of parenthood? A word of warning; the ending is described as “bittersweet”.
Dickensian, Boxing Day, 7pm BBC1
Former Albert Square supremo Tony Jordan takes inspiration from the oft-made observation that if Charles Dickens were alive today then he’d probably be writing for EastEnders, as Jordan takes characters from various novels, including Miss Havisham (Tuppence Middleton), Fagin (Anton Lesser) and Scrooge (Ned Dennehy) and boldly/blasphemously throws them together in a Victorian London melting pot.
Peter and Wendy , Boxing Day, 8pm ITV
Adrian Hodges updates JM Barrie to a modern-day Great Ormond Street hospital, where gravely ill teenager Lucy (an assured Hazel Doupe), awaiting an operation, drifts off to Neverland. Singer Paloma Faith plays Tinkerbell, while Stanley Tucci is Captain Hook.
And Then There Were None, Boxing Day, 9pm BBC1
How to make Agatha Christie chime with darker contemporary tastes in crime fiction? Well, you could start with her darkest whodunit, in which 10 strangers – each harbouring a guilty secret – are lured to an island off the coast of Devon, only to be bumped off one by one. Anna Maxwell Martin, Charles Dance, Sam Neill, Miranda Richardson and Poldark’s Aidan Turner are among the stellar cast of suspects/victims.
Harry Price: Ghost Hunter , Sun 27 Dec, 8.30pm ITV
Earlier this year Timothy Spall played a ghost-hunter in Sky’s The Enfield Haunting, and now his son, Rafe Spall, investigates the paranormal in this enjoyable adaptation of Neil Spring’s novel based on the real-life exploits of 1920s ghost-buster and exposer of fake clairvoyants, Harry Price.
Sherlock , New Year’s Day, 9pm BBC1
A treat for Sherlock’s worldwide fan base stranded between distant seasons, as creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss cook up the jolly conceit of setting their contemporary versions of Conan Doyle’s detectives in their original Victorian milieu. “The Abominable Bride sees Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman jump in and out of hansom cabs and address each other by their surnames as they investigate an apparently supernatural fiend.