From Bake Off and Top Gear to Strictly and a special Coronation Street and Emmerdale
TELLY this Christmas is shaping up to be a cracker.
Get ready for laughs, party specials, top drama and award-winning stars as TV chefs serve up a feast.
Family favorites including Strictly and The Voice Kids are lining up alongside comedy with Not Going Out Christmas’s special and highly anticipated drama A Very British Scandal.
Julia Donaldson’s new animation, Superworm, will entertain the little ones.
Here are Felicity Cross’s top picks.
SHAUN THE SHEEP – THE FLIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS (BBC One): Everyone’s favorite farm animal is back in this new half-hour caper. Shaun’s festive glee turns to dismay when a raid on a farm to get a bigger stocking for the herd results in Timmy’s demise. Themes of friendship and loyalty underlie this Christmas special.
SUPERVER (BBC One): Olivia Colman recounts this sweet animation, with Matt Smith as the ver. Based on Julia Donaldson’s sublime children’s book, expect themes of friendship and bravery. Julia is best known for The Gruffalo, so you can be sure this will be an instant classic.
THE ABOMINABLE SNOW BABY (Channel 4): The magic of Sir Terry Pratchett comes to life in this half-hour animation featuring National Treasure Dame Julie Walters. It tells the story of a quintessentially English town thrown into disarray by a huge snowfall and the dramatic appearance of a 14-foot Snow Baby. Brave Granny and her grandson welcome her to their home and the fun begins.
HANSEL AND GRETEL: AFTER ALWAYS AFTER (Sky Max): The Sky’s After Ever After brand has quietly become one of the biggest Christmas TV hits. This year’s one, with Sheridan Smith and David Walliams, is a delight. He examines what happens after the fairy tale children escape the gingerbread house and return home.
MRS BROWN’S BOYS (BBC One): It’s a Marmite TV show but for fans of the Brendan O’Carroll comedy, Christmas specials are always a laughing matter. There will be two visits to Finglas this year, the first after Agnes when she becomes a non-singer member of a choir. And Buster is organizing a fundraising event for an unusual cause.
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: A COMEDY RELIEF PANTOMIME FOR NOL (BBC Two): Christmas is not the same without a good old panto and it promises to be a corker. Last year’s Cinderella production starred Bridgerton, Regé-Jean Page, Anya Taylor Joy of The Queen’s Gambit, Oscar winner Olivia Colman, and 007 himself, Daniel Craig. So expect more A-listers to tread the boards for charity this time around.
DON’T FORGET THE NOL BUZZCOCKS SPECIAL (Sky Max / Now TV): Greg Davies is in the hot seat as Noel Fielding, Daisy May Cooper and Jamali Maddix rejoice. Frankie Goes To Hollywood frontman Holly Johnson, Lauren Laverne and People Just Do Nothing comic book Asim Chaudhry join in the fun. It’ll be the familiar rowdy mix of mickey and quiz, with a festive twist.
NO SPECIAL NOL EXIT (BBC One): Lee Mack welcomes special guest Jason Donovan in the hilarious comedy for a panto-themed episode. Lee is not happy that Lucy (Sally Bretton) booked tickets to see the show because Jason, who plays Prince Charming, is her teenage crush. The gang will serve the usual jokes, jokes and laughs.
ENCANTO (Disney +): Disney rushed its latest animation from theaters to its streaming channel in time for Christmas. It is rooted in Colombian culture and follows the story of a family living in a magical mountain called the Encanto. The songs are written by Lin-Manuel Miranda from Moana, so they are guaranteed to be catchy.
A NOL NUMBER ONE OF NOL (Sky Cinema, broadcast from December 10): The race to reach the top with a festive firecracker is part of Christmas. This new film has music by Guy Chambers and stars Freida Pinto of Slumdog Millionaire. It’s packed with fun, laughs, and even celebrity appearances.
DON’T LOOK FOR (Netflix, Christmas Eve Stream): This Hollywood blockbuster starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence doesn’t have a festive plot but will inject a bit of grown-up humor into your break. The dark comedy follows two low-level astronomers as they attempt to warn humanity of an approaching comet that will destroy Earth. Timothée Chalamet and Ariana Grande are also on the program.
GRUMPY CHRISTMAS (Netflix, stream December 22): Watch something a little different in this Mexican family comedy. The plot follows Servando and Alicia on a family trip to the beach that turns wild as they compete to control Christmas. Feliz Navidad this is not the case!
TOP GEAR – DRIVING HOME FOR CHRISTMAS (BBC One): Freddie Flintoff, Paddy McGuinness and Chris Harris imagined another Christmas cracker. From Bethlehem, Wales, the trio of unwise men will go on a mission to deliver their gifts. They will unite on the test track, which has turned into a winter wonderland.
STRICTLY COME AND DANCE SPECIAL NOL (BBC One Christmas Day): Watch some of the UK’s most beloved stars on the dance floor for just one night. Broadcasters Adrian Chiles and Moira Stuart will line up alongside pop star Anne-Marie. Mel Giedroyc, Jay Blades from Repair Shop and Fred Sirieix from First Dates also signed up.
THE BIG SOAP QUIZ (ITV): Nothing says Christmas like a special bumper soap and ITV has favorites from Corrie and Emmerdale tested on their knowledge. Jack P Shepherd directs Jane Danson and Tanisha Gorey for Corrie vs. Mark Charnock, Sally Dexter and Emile John for Emmerdale.
THE KIDS VOICES (ITV): Spice Girl Melanie C is the new star of The Voice Kids. Watch her debut as she joins Danny Jones, Will.i.am and Pixie Lott for the new series. Emma Willis is on the job and there are promises that Santa, snow and sleigh rides will be on the schedule.
A VERY BRITISH SCANDAL (BBC One): Claire Foy plays the “dirty duchess” in this story of the scandalous divorce between the Duke and Duchess of Argyll. In three parts, charges of counterfeiting, theft, violence, drug use and an explicit Polaroid photo will fly. Paul Bettany appears as the Duke.
ALL THE BIG AND SMALL CREATURES NOL SPECIAL (Channel 5): This reboot of the ’80s classic has drawn a league of fans since its launch in 2020. There will be the usual sweet action as Helen and James prepare for the big day and vet drama. Oscar-winning actress Rachel Shenton is the star.
THE LARKINS (ITV): Bradley Walsh charmed viewers as Pop Larkin, so a festive special will make many Christmas wishes come true. Ma Larkin actress Joanna Scanlan promises the episode will have plenty of twists and turns, with a heartwarming message. Gorgeous Sabrina Bartlett plays Mariette, the role that made Catherine Zeta-Jones famous, alongside Tok Stephen as Charley.
CALL THE MIDWIFE’S NOL SPECIAL (BBC One Christmas Day): Ahead of the Sweet Drama’s 11th series, Nonnatus House is excited for Lucille and Cyril’s wedding. But nuns find it difficult to enjoy the merriment as they face their busiest Christmas day ever. The usual darker moments are brightened up with a blossoming new romance for Trixie.
INSIDE THE TOWER OF LONDON AT NOL (Channel 5): Head back inside the gates as the famous Beefeaters prepare for Christmas, trying to turn the fortress into a winter wonderland. There is no shortage of crows either, as they are given their own special decorations. Along with the fun, expect a tidy mix of history as Chief Curator Tracy Borman recounts Henry VIII’s Christmas.
NOL AT KEW JARDINS (Channel 5): A rare opportunity to enjoy Britain’s most famous gardens during the holiday season. Join the team as they dress the country’s largest living Christmas tree with lights, pick holly, and prune tropical plants in the Temperate House. And the vegetable garden is stripped for the team’s festive meal.
THE WONDER OF THE SONG (BBC One): Sir David Attenborough chooses his favorite recordings from the natural world and explains how they have revolutionized our understanding of song. From the largest lemur on the planet to robins to the song of the humpback whale, Sir David examines how all species use song to communicate. His longtime collaborator Mike Birkhead is a screenwriter, director and producer, so this will be another fascinating watch from the king of documentaries.
MARY BERRY HOLIDAYS (BBC): The Queen of the Kitchen helps three unlucky cooks create an amazing Christmas dinner. They are invited to Mary’s house and tell her about deserving friends and family they want to impress. She will demonstrate the delicate techniques they need alongside her party assistants.