Christmas TV 2015: The best shows of the holiday season from Downton Abbey to Sherlock
Strictly Come Dancing, Mrs Brown's Boys and Doctor Who will all have festive specials
Everyone knows that the best thing about Christmas is the knowledge that most people up and down the country are lazing around, stuffed full of roast turkey, watching telly just like you.
It’s guilt-free, and it’s brilliant. So here’s our pick of the best things to circle in your TV guides this festive period:
The Sound of Music Live!
Sunday 20 December, 7.30pm, ITV
Kara Tointon will be singing “The Hills Are Alive” as Maria in a full live production of the classic musical. Even if “Do-Re-Mi” isn’t your kind of Christmas tune, just be the family Scrooge and watch in case of any embarrassing mishaps to laugh at.
Call the Midwife
Christmas Day, 7.30pm, BBC1
It’s not the jolliest of episodes at Nonnatus House, with elderly Sister Monica Joan missing and seen wandering alone in the woods in the trailer. Naturally, everybody is worried, but fortunately there’s Fred in a Santa suit and a bus trip to see the Regent Street Christmas lights to cheer things up a bit.
Christmas Day, 4.45pm, BBC One
Martin Freeman is the lovable Stick Man in this animated take on Julia Donaldson’s children’s classic. Jennifer Saunders narrates while Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Rob Brydon and Sally Hawkins help tell the story of Stick Man’s hazardous journey home to the “family tree” for Christmas. Everybody say “aww”.
Christmas Day, 5.15pm, BBC One
Professor River Song, played by Alex Kingston, is making her big comeback to meet her husband in his current incarnation for the first time; comedians Greg Davies and Matt Lucas are rocking up to bring some laughs; and Peter Capaldi’s Doctor will be “hurled into a fast and frantic chase across the galaxy”. It’s going to be a crazy, festive spectacular.
Strictly Come Dancing
Christmas Day, 6.15pm, BBC One
Sadly Brucie, arguably the Beeb’s very own Santa, has had to pull out of this year’s festive ballroom special for health reasons. But Claudia and Tess should be on top form, puttin’ on the Ritz as favourites for past and present take to the floor in a bid to lift the Silver Star trophy.
Christmas Day, 8pm, Channel 4
Gogglebox is already up there with our comedy faves and now it’s the turn of the kids to step into the limelight as discerning telly critics. Please let there be mini versions of Sandy and Sandra. That really would make Christmas.
Christmas Day, 8.45pm, ITV
It’s the big one. The final ever episode of Downton is set on New Year’s Eve and there are two full hours to savour before bidding goodbye to downstairs and upstairs forever. Unless that rumoured movie comes to fruition, that is. Oh Dowager Countess, how we shall miss your acerbic one-liners.
Mrs Brown’s Boys
Christmas Day, 9.45pm, BBC One
Always a ratings hit whether you love her or loathe her, Brendan O’Carroll will be resurrecting Agnes Brown for a supposedly relaxing family Christmas. Anything but, guaranteed.
Begins Boxing Day, 7pm & 8.30pm, BBC1
Be warned, this is a 20-part series, so commitment is required. Fortunately it sounds like that shouldn’t be too tricky as the idea is clever and original. Former EastEnders scriptwriter Tony Jordan has penned the screenplay, about Charles Dickens’ most memorable characters living next door to each other on one cobbled street.
And Then There Were None
Begins Boxing Day, 9pm, BBC One
Poldark fans will enjoy a Christmas gift in the form of Aidan Turner, here playing Philip Lombard in this new, three-part Agatha Christie adaptation from the Beeb. Set in 1939, it follows the mystery of a group of people who start getting killed off on a remote Devon island. Douglas Booth and Charles Dance also star.
Sherlock: The Abominable Bride
New Year’s Day, 9pm, BBC One
The long, two-year wait is over and Sherlock is finally returning to our living rooms for a one-off special. Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are going back in time to the detective’s original home of Victorian London and the first look photos promise awesome, decidedly suave things.
Better stock up on mince pies for all these sofa sessions sharpish.