One of the best things about Christmas (aside from the presents, the food and all the mulled wine) is settling down in front of the box to enjoy a plethora of festive entertainment.
And with the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 having now released their Yuletide schedules, we can finally get down to the serious business of planning which shows we’re going to tune into live, and those we’re going to save until we’ve come out of our turkey-endued comas.
There’s Christmas specials of all your favourites like ‘Call The Midwife’, ‘The Great British Bake Off’, ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ and ‘Victoria’; there’s welcome returns for the likes of ‘The League Off Gentlemen’ and ‘Mrs Brown’s Boys’; there’s big-budget dramas such as ‘Little Women’, ‘The Miniaturist’, ‘Maigret’ and ‘McMafia’; plus there’s a farewell from Peter Capaldi in ‘Doctor Who’ and a Christmas reunion for Mary Berry, Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins. And of course, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the drama of ‘EastEnders’, ‘Coronation Street’ and ‘Emmerdale’.
So without further ado, we present to you HuffPost UK Entertainment’s definitive guide to 2017′s Christmas TV.
Christmas Day, 9pm on ITV
Jenna Coleman’s period drama is going head-to-head with ‘EastEnders’ on Christmas Day this year with its bumper two-hour festive special.
And it doesn’t look set to be a quiet Christmas for the royal family either, as while Albert is obsessed with turning Buckingham Palace into a winter wonderland, Victoria is preparing to become a mum for the fourth time and is not happy when her husband invites some unwelcome guests to join their celebrations.
‘Call The Midwife’
Christmas Day, 7.40pm on BBC One
‘Call The Midwife’ has become a Christmas Day ratings winner for the BBC in recent years, and we expect the 2017 special to be no different.
While last year’s festive offering was set in sunnier climes, this winter’s special sees the nuns, midwives and families of Poplar struggle through the Big Freeze of 1962/3.
‘Alan Partridge: Why, When, Where, How and Whom?’
Wednesday 27 December, 9pm on BBC Two
To celebrate the return of Alan Partridge in 2018, this documentary looks back at the 25 year journey of the parody broadcaster.
There will be contributions from the man behind him - Steve Coogan - and his comedy co-stars Felicity Montagu (Lynn), Simon Greenall (Michael), Sally Phillips (Sophie the receptionist), Phil Cornwell (Dave Clifton) and Tim Key (Sidekick Simon).
‘Mrs Brown’s Boys’
Christmas Day, 10pm on BBC One
New Year’s Day, 10pm on BBC One
Brendan O’Carroll brings Mammy back for two new specials of his Marmite sitcom, the first of which sees Grandad think the house is haunted as the family prepare for Christmas.
The New Year episode will see Father Damien attempt to tackle the rising amount of crime in Finglas with a Neighbourhood Watch, but catching criminals isn’t necessarily something Agnes is cut out to do.
‘The Great Christmas Bake Off’
Christmas Day, 7.40pm on Channel 4
New Year’s Day, 9pm on Channel 4
There’s going to be not one, but two special editions of ‘Bake Off’ this Christmas, which will see some of our all-time favourite contestants making a very welcome return to the tent, including series seven fan favourites Selasi Gbormittah and Val Stones, as well as Paul Jagger, who viewers will remember for his seriously impressive ‘bread lion’.
‘Strictly Come Dancing: The Christmas Special’
Christmas Day, 6.30pm on BBC One
Just days after the final to the current series ends, Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman return to welcome former contestants Colin Jackson, Jeremy Vine, Judy Murray, Katie Derham, Kimberley Walsh and Robbie Savage back to the ballroom for a festive dance-off.
Kaiser Cheifs will also be on hand to perform, while there’s also an extra special Yuletide group number.
‘A Christmas Chase: Celebrity Special’
Christmas Eve, 5.50pm on ITV
Jimmy Osmond, Patti Clare, Kirsty Wark and Matt Richardson face one of the fearsome Chasers in a Christmas special of the hit ITV gameshow, hosted as ever by Bradley Walsh.
‘Mary, Mel And Sue’s Big Christmas Thank You’
Christmas Eve, 7pm on BBC One
The former ‘Bake Off’ trio reunite for this heart-warming festive special, which will see them travel to South Wales to bring some Yuletide cheer to an area that’s experienced tough times.
Mary will be creating a spectacular traditional Christmas dinner for them all, while Mel and Sue will rally the troops and stage a magical back drop to the party.
‘Mary Berry’s Christmas Party’
Monday 18 December, 8.30pm on BBC One
Mary’s been a busy bee this Christmas, as she’s also holding another bash, where she opens her kitchen to some famous faces to help her cook some of the best-loved party dishes for her festive table.
Alex Jones, Fearne Cotton, Darcey Bussell and Adil Ray all join Mary to serve up what is bound to be a delicious TV treat.
‘The League Of Gentlemen Anniversary Specials’
Monday 18 December, 10pm on BBC Two
Tuesday 19 December, 10pm on BBC Two
Wednesday 20 December, 10pm on BBC Two
The much-loved comedy returns with three brand-new episodes to celebrate the group’s 20th anniversary at the BBC.
Reece Shearsmith, Steve Pemberton and Mark Gatiss are back as the bizarre and darkly comic characters of Royston Vasey, which is under threat when rumours of boundary changes are announced.
Christmas Day, 5.30pm on BBC One
As well as serving as Peter Capaldi’s final outing as the Doctor, this episode will also mark the first time fans set eyes on his replacement, Jodie Whittaker, in the role.
Entitled ‘Twice Upon A Time’, the Christmas special sees the Doctor team up with his very first incarnation (played by David Bradley) to battle a yet-to-be-confirmed villain, who we’re guessing will somehow be involved in his regeneration.
Christmas Day, 9pm on BBC One
After a lacklustre Christmas last year, ‘EastEnders’ bosses are pulling out all the stops to make sure the 2017 festive episodes are ones to remember.
Max Branning will be taking centre stage as his revenge storyline reaches an explosive climax, following a year of secrets, lies and surprises.
Reassuringly, the Brannings have a proven track record when it comes to delivering great Christmas episodes, so hopes are high for this year, especially as we’ve been promised the events will change Albert Square forever
Check out the full rundown of ‘EastEnders’ Christmas spoilers here.
Christmas Day, 5.50pm on ITV
Robron fans will be delighted to hear the former couple will be taking centre stage on Christmas Day, in what the executive producer has hailed “probably the weirdest episode we’ve ever done”.
“It’s really out there and it’s the episode I have been most nervous about since I started,” Iain McLeod has teased. “[I’m nervous] because of how crackers it is. It’s really entertaining and dramatic and it has a surprise cameo in it. It’s stylistically a bit weird and romantic – it’s great.”
Christmas Day, 8pm on ITV
Christmas Day on t’cobbles this year will see the dramatic return of Carla Connor, who arrives back in Weatherfield when Aidan Connor asks for help with the factory.
Her friends and family are initially happy to see her after two years away, but it soon becomes clear she’s back with a secret.
‘Miranda Does Christmas’
Wednesday 27 December, 9pm on Channel 4
Miranda’s sitcom used to take pride of place in the BBC Christmas schedules, and three years after its last episode aired, the comic is back with her own Channel 4 special.
It will see real-life Miranda host a raucous Christmas party, offering us all some tips for surviving the festive period, because god knows, we will probably need them.
‘All Star Musicals’
Christmas Eve 6.40pm on ITV
Seven celebrities - Sir Tony Robinson, Rebecca Front, Nicky Campbell, Sally Phillips, Denise Lewis, Lucy Fallon and Michael Parr - take part in a musical talent show, where they perform an iconic song from a hit musical in front of a live audience at London’s iconic Palladium, before the audience vote for their favourite.
‘Michael McIntyre’s Big Christmas Show’
Christmas Eve, 8.30pm on BBC One
The comic returns with his annual festive special, which will see performances from soul sensation Seal and comedy legend Bill Bailey, as well as new stand-up material from Michael himself.
There’s also all the regular features including Celebrity Send To All, where another well-known name bravely hands their phone over to Michael.
‘The Big Fat Quiz Of The Year’
Boxing Day, 9pm on Channel 4
To celebrate the dawn of another year, Jimmy Carr puts a panel of top celebrity teams to test as he presents his big, fat and fiendishly difficult quiz on all the goings on from 2017.
‘Alan Carr’s Christmas Chatty Man’
Christmas Day, 10pm on Channel 4
Noel Gallagher, Adam Lambert, Christian Slater, John Bishop, Kasabian, Dua Lipa, Rob Beckett, Lorraine Kelly and Gogglebox’s Giles and Mary will be joining Alan for his two-hour Christmas Day special.
We can also be sure Alan’s drinks globe will be packed full of festive tipples to get his star-studded couch a little bit tiddly.
‘Birds Of A Feather’
Monday 18 December, 9pm on ITV
Chigwell’s favourite trio are back with a feature-length one-off Christmas special.
Pauline Quirke, Linda Robson and Lesley Joseph reprise their roles as Sharon, Tracey and Dorien in a new adventure for the ladies.
‘Top Of The Pops’
Christmas Day, 12.20pm on BBC One
New Year’s Eve, 4.05pm on BBC One
Fearne Cotton is joined by Clara Amfo at the helm of the much-missed music show, with two specials looking back on the biggest acts of 2017.
Fans can look forward to performances from the likes of Olly Murs, Skepta, Zara Larsson, James Arthur, Craig David and Louisa Johnson, among others.
‘Gordon, Gino And Fred’s Great Christmas Roast’
Wednesday 20 December, 9pm on ITV
Chefs Gordon Ramsay and Gino D’Acampo team up with ‘First Dates’ Maître D Fred Siriex to lay on a spectacular banquet for the heroes of 2017.
Working against the clock, the pair will be assisted by a number of famous faces as the two teams compete to serve the most impressive festive menu.
‘Alan Carr’s NYE Specstacular’
New Year’s Eve, 9pm on Channel 4
Expect celebrity guests, comedy skits, live music performances and general merriment and silliness as Alan hosts his annual Specstacular to help see in the New Year.
‘The Graham Norton Show’
New Year’s Eve, 10.20pm on BBC One
The stars of ‘The Greatest Showman’ Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron and Zendaya join Graham for his annual New Year special, alongside Doctor Foster’s Suranne Jones and actor Gary Oldman, with music from the Leading Ladies.
‘New Year’s Eve Live’ with Nile Rodgers and Chic
New Year’s Eve, 11.20pm on BBC One
Nile Rodgers and Chic will be bringing the Good Times this New Year’s Eve, as they host BBC One’s annual concert.
Coming live from a County Hall on the River Thames, the gig will be sandwiched around the London fireworks display as 2018 rings in.
‘Christmas Cruising With Jane McDonald’
Saturday 23 December, 9pm on Channel 5
We’ve made no secret of the fact we love a bit of Jane McDonald’s travel documentary series, and we couldn’t be more delighted to learn that she’s filmed a festive special.
Question is though, what Christmas classic has she recorded for her end of episode finale?
‘Paul O’Grady: For The Love Of Dogs’
Christmas Day, 7pm on ITV
Paul O’Grady returns to Battersea Dogs and Cats Home for a one-hour special of his heart-warming show, which sees him bringing some much-needed festive cheer to the canine residents.
‘Old Peoples Home for 4 Year Olds: Christmas’
Monday 18 December, 9pm on Channel 4
With social isolation being one of the biggest problems for the elderly, and never more so than during the Christmas period, there’s a festive return to the ‘Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds’ to reunite the residents including Hamish, Zina, Pat and David together with some of their young friends like Solomon, Nelson, Millie and Eva to find out how taking part in the series has impacted their lives.
‘Maigret in Montmartre’
Christmas Eve, 8.30pm on ITV
Rowan Atkinson is back as Agatha Christie’s French supersleuth in a brand new case, ‘Maigret In Montmartre’.
‘Alan Carr’s The Price Is Right’
Saturday 30 December, 8pm on Channel 4
Alan Carr takes the reigns of the UK version of the world’s longest running game show, inviting contestants to 'Come on down'.
Packed with amazing prizes and hysterical pricing games, this is set to be a classic Christmas entertainment extravaganza.
‘300 Years Of French & Saunders’
Christmas Day, 10.35pm on BBC One
Comedy legends Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders celebrate 30 years of their partnership with this special clips show that is packed full of new material.
The show also marks the first time they have worked together on TV in 10 years and we’re keeping our fingers crossed it will lead to a new series.
‘Jennifer & Joanna: Absolutely Champers’
Thursday 21 December, 9pm on BBC Two
Speaking of Jennifer Saunders, she will also be reuniting with another of her comedy partners in crime as she and ‘Absolutely Fabulous’ co-star Joanna Lumley team up for a documentary on Eddy and Patsy’s favourite tipple - Champagne.
The pair will head to the French region to learn about how it is made - while enjoying a few glasses along the way, of course.
Boxing Day, 9pm on BBC One
Wednesday 27 December, 9pm on BBC One
Based on Jessie Burton’s best-selling novel, this drama is just one of the big period dramas airing on the BBC this Christmas.
Set in 1686, it tells the mysterious story of 18 year-old Nella Oortman, who arrives in Amsterdam to become the new wife of merchant, Johannes Brandt. But when she receives an intriguing wedding gift from the groom - a dolls house replica of their home - it begins predicting the future with frightening accuracy.
New Year’s Day, 9pm on BBC One
Tuesday 2 January, 9pm on BBC One
James Norton takes centre stage in this glamourous and gritty new drama, which will be the set piece of BBC One’s schedule on New Year’s Day and continue over the following weeks.
It charts the story of the English-raised son of Russian exiles, Alex Goodman, who has spent his life trying to escape the shadow of that criminal past. However, he is soon drawn into the world of organised crime and what starts out as a story of survival and revenge, becomes an epic tale of a man’s struggle against the lures of corruption.
Boxing Day, 8pm on BBC One
Wednesday 27 December, 8pm on BBC One
Thursday 28 December, 8pm on BBC One
Based on Louisa May Alcott’s universally beloved novel, ‘Little Women’, is a new three-part series, adapted by award-winning creator of ‘Call The Midwife’ Heidi Thomas.
Set against the backdrop of a country divided, the story follows the four March sisters: Jo (Maya Hawke), Meg (Willa Fitzgerald), Beth (Annes Elwy), and Amy (Kathryn Newton) on their journey from childhood to adulthood while their father (Dylan Baker) is away at war.
‘The Highway Rat’
Christmas Day, 4.45pm on BBC One
This animated short brings to life Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s picture book.
Featuring the voices of David Tennant as the Highway Rat and Rob Brydon as the narrator, it tells the story of a ravenous tears along the highway in search for sugary treats to steal, until his sweet tooth leads him to a sticky end.
‘Grandpa’s Great Escape’
New Year’s Day, 6.55pm on BBC One
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas these days without an adaptation of one of David Walliams’s children’s books, and this year it’s the turn of ‘Grandpa’s Great Escape’.
Starring David himself, Jennifer Saunders and Samantha Spiro among others, it tells the tale of Jack’s Grandpa, who is moved to a nursing home when he starts suffering with Alzheimer’s. But when it becomes apparent the owner is running it for her own gain, Jack plots his Grandpa’s escape, with hilarious consequences.
‘Blind Date Christmas Special’
Saturday 23 December, 8pm on Channel 5
Following the success of their reboot of the classic dating show earlier this year, Channel 5 are putting on their first festive edition, which sees Paul O’Grady pairing up a host of lonely singletons looking for love this Christmas.
‘Our Friend Victoria’
Saturday 23 December, 9.30pm on BBC One
The BBC will pay tribute to much-loved comedian Victoria Wood with a special hosted by her longtime collaborator, Anne Reid.
The episode starts with some classic stand-up from Victoria perfectly summing up the downsides of Christmas, over spending, over indulgence and all too tiring.
However, interviews with her close friends - including Celia Imrie, Julie Richard E. Grant and Reece Shearsmith - reveal the comedian adored the festive season, as they share their favourite memories.
Boxing Day, 6.30pm on BBC One
‘Snow Bears’ is the enchanting true-to-life tale of polar bear cubs on the journey of a lifetime to the ice surrounding the North Pole.
With the arrival of spring they must travel 400 miles in search of the seal-rich pack ice surrounding the north pole, meeting a host of extraordinary arctic characters along the way.