Christmas TV Guide 2020 – The 50 Best Shows To Feast Your Eyes On

Here are our top picks from the BBC, ITV and Channel 4's festive offerings this year.

With Christmas taking a different form for the vast majority of us this year, we’re going to need our screens more than ever over the festive period.

And while the pandemic stopped TV production for a huge chunk of 2020, the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 have all still managed to ensure all tastes will be catered for with a swathe of new shows.

Whether you’re looking for top dramas, gripping soap storylines, quizzes and game shows, or festive editions of your favourites, there really is something for everyone this Christmas.

With the full listings having now been revealed, we’ve trawled through them all to pick out the 50 best shows you won’t want to miss.

The Story Of SM:TV

Boxing Day at 9.25am on ITV

ITV

Ant, Dec and Cat are reunited for this long-awaited special, which will take a nostalgic look back at their much-loved Saturday morning kids show.

There will be brand new interviews with the hosts as well as a bunch of regular SM:TV guests and celebrity fans, and of course, there will be a delve through the archives as the likes of Challenge Ant, Wonky Donkey and Chums are revisited.

Britain’s Got Talent Christmas Spectacular

Christmas Day at 8pm on ITV

ITV

For the first time ever, the BGT gang are hosting a festive get together, as they welcome back some of the talent show’s most memorable and talented acts from the past 14 years.

Ashley Banjo will once again join Amanda Holden, Alesha Dixon, David Walliams in place of Simon Cowell following his back-breaking accident earlier in the year – but look out for an appearance from the man himself.

The Vicar Of Dibley

Wednesday 23 December at 12am on BBC One

BBC/Tiger Aspect Productions Ltd/Des Willie

Everyone’s favourite Vicar, Geraldine Grainger is back to save 2020, as The Vicar Of Dibley returns for three new specials.

Throughout the year’s difficulties, Geraldine has been writing and delivering sermons to her parishioners via Zoom – when she can make it work, that is.

These new thoughts on life and chocolate will be packaged as three brand new 10-minute shows that will precede repeats of classic episodes in the lead up to Christmas. They will also be bundled up into one brand new episode to enjoy on 23 December.

Doctor Who

New Years’s Day at 6.45pm on BBC One

BBC Studios/Ben Blackall/James Pardon

One of the Doctor’s biggest and most feared enemies – the Daleks – return this Christmas in Revolution Of The Daleks.

We catch up with The Doctor locked away in a high-security alien prison with no hope of escape, while sidekicks Yaz, Ryan and Graham are adjusting to life without her.

But old habits die hard when they discover a disturbing plan involving a Dalek forming. How can you fight a Dalek, without the Doctor?

This Morning

Christmas Day at 10am on ITV

Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock

There will be an extra dose of daytime fun this festive season, as This Morning broadcasts on Christmas Day for the first time.

Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield will be fronting a special episode which they promise will be “uplifting and heartwarming in equal measure”.

The Serpent

New Years’s Day at 9pm on BBC One

BBC/Mammoth Screen

Tahar Rahim, Jenna Coleman, Billy Howle and Ellie Bamber star in this new eight-part drama, which is inspired by the real events of Charles Sobhraj’s capturing.

As the chief suspect in unsolved murders of young Western travellers across India, Thailand and Nepal’s “Hippie Trail” in 1975 and 1976, Sobhraj had repeatedly slipped from the grasp of authorities worldwide to become Interpol’s most wanted man, with arrest warrants on three different continents.

The arrival of Herman Knippenberg at the Dutch Embassy in Bangkok set off an extraordinary chain of events as he seeks to bring Sobhraj to justice for his terrible crimes.

The Great British Bake Off Christmas And New Year Specials

Christmas Eve at 7.40pm and Sunday 3 January at 7.45 on Channel 4

Channel 4 / Mark Bourdillon

While we fully expected there not to be any Bake Off festive specials this year, given the lengths producers had to go to just to get the normal series on air, Channel 4 has come through with two extra helpings of the nation’s favourite cookery competition.

Former contestants James Hillery from the 2017 series, Ruby Bhogal, from the 2018 series, and Rosie Brandreth-Poynter and Jamie Finn from the 2019 series return as they go head to head for the title of Christmas Star Baker.

For the New Year special, Bake Off winners Nancy Birtwhistle and Rahul Mandal return to the tent alongside 2019 contestants Helena Garcia and Henry Bird.

The Great British Bake Off : The Winners

Wednesday 23 December at 7pm on Channel 4

Rex

Speaking of Bake Off winners, viewers will get the chance to catch up with Nancy and Rahul’s fellow champions in this documentary, which explores what they got up to after leaving the tent.

The Masked Singer

Boxing Day at 9pm on ITV

ITV

The second series of TV’s most bonkers but brilliant competition kicks off on Boxing Day as a host of top secret celebrities mask up as a panel of celebrities try to guess who they are from their singing voice.

Cinderella: A Comic Relief Pantomime for Christmas

Christmas Eve at 8.15pm on BBC Two

BBC/Quentin Blake

Olivia Colman will make her pantomime debut as the Fairy Godmother, starring opposite The Crown co-star Helena Bonham Carter in a virtual charity version of Cinderella.

The Queen’s Gambit’s Anya Taylor-Joy stars Cinderella, while Helena will play Lady Devilia, while real-life sister and brother Daisy May and Charlie Cooper will appear as The Evil Step Sisters. Guz Khan will play Buttons, Tom Hollander will appear as Baron Hardup, Rege-Jean Page will play Prince Charming and Jimmy Akingbola will be Dandini.

In addition, legendary artist Quentin Blake has created a host of original hand drawn illustrations, helping bring the panto to life for everyone watching at home.

Pandemonium

Wednesday 30 December at 9.45pm on BBC One

BBC Studios / Josh Cole

After Alison Steadman reprised her role as Pam Shipman in last year’s Gavin & Stacey Christmas special, this year she’s starring in a new one-off sitcom centred on the Jessop family.

Having seen their finances and future plans devastated, they’ve also had to abandon their holiday of a lifetime to California – but the Jessops decide they’re going to have their summer holiday after all, even if it means doing it in December. In Margate.

Blankety Blank

Christmas Day at 7pm on BBC One

BBC/Thames/Matt Frost

Iconic gameshow Blankety Blank is back with a brand new host, Bradley Walsh for a festive special, as a new panel of celebrities try to fill in the missing blanks.

And of course, the legendary Blankety Blank Cheque Book and Pen is also set to make a welcome return too.

The Great British Sewing Bee Christmas Specials

Boxing Day at 7.45pm and New Year’s Eve at 8pm on BBC One

BBC/Love Productions/Mark Bourdillon

Denise Van Outen, Shirley Ballas, Dr Ranj Singh, Sara Pascoe, The Vivienne, Lesley Joseph, Sabrina Grant and Sally Philips will all put their sewing skills – or lack thereof – to the test in two Christmas specials based on the unlikely BBC hit series.

Joe Lycett is back as host, as the two sets of stars compete in challenges set by judges Patrick Grant and Esme Young.

Mrs Brown’s Boys

Christmas Day at 10.05pm and New Year’s Day at 10pm on BBC One

BBC Studios / Alan Peebles

Love it or loathe it, TV’s most Marmite show is back for two new episodes, the first of which sees Agnes and her family getting used to “the new normal”.

Agnes and Winnie have also entered a competition in the Radio Times to perform an alternative Queen’s speech and are waiting to hear if they’ve won. Will either of them be a match for Her Majesty?

Call The Midwife

Christmas Day at 7.40pm on BBC One

BBC / Nealstreet Productions / Nicky Johnston

It’s December 1965 and everyone is looking forward to traditional celebrations with all the trimmings, but nothing goes quite to plan.

As the Circus arrives in Poplar, there are new friendships, new experiences, and an exciting adventure for Nurse Crane. There’s also an unexpected trip to hospital and a surprise reunion for a Nonnatus House favourite.

EastEnders

Christmas Day at 9.10pm on BBC One

BBC/Kieron McCarron/Jack Barnes

It’s set to be another dark Christmas in Albert Square this year, after Ian Beale was attacked and left for dead earlier this month.

The fallout of the new ‘whodunnit?’ will reach a head over Christmas with many under suspicion of dealing the brutal blow and desperate to cover their tracks.

Meanwhile, secrets and lies are on the menu this Christmas for the Carters, as Linda falls victim to temptation and turns elsewhere for comfort, and Denise confronts a fearsome face from her past…

Emmerdale

Christmas Day at 6pm on ITV

Rex

After a difficult few years, Emmerdale favourites Chas Dingle and Paddy Kirk look set to get a happy ending, as he plans a surprise festive wedding.

Bosses have also teased that an explosive secret is set to be revealed, along with some other “disasters, comedy, heartbreak, shock twists and turns”.

Coronation Street

Christmas Day at 7pm on ITV

ITV/Shutterstock

In contrast to the goings on in Walford, there will be some happier times ahead for some Weatherfield residents, as David and Shona Platt share a happy Christmas together after a difficult year.

Sadly though, Leanne Battersby faces a difficult festive period after the death of her young son Oliver.

Elsewhere, Todd Grimshaw, Billy Mayhew and Paul Foreman’s love triangle is also set to take centre stage in the Christmas episode.

Miranda’s Games With Showbiz Names

Christmas Eve at 9.45pm on BBC One

BBC/Monkey Kingdom

Miranda Hart hosts a new entertainment show full of Christmas games and fun as three of her favourite celebrity couples play against each other in a host of riotous and outrageous challenges from inside their homes.

Black Narcissus

Sunday 27, Monday 28 and Tuesday 29 December at 9pm on BBC One

FX/Miya Mizuno

Mopu, Himalayas, 1934. A remote clifftop palace once known as the ‘House of Women’ holds many dark secrets. When the young nuns of St. Faith attempt to establish a mission there, its haunting mysteries awaken forbidden desires that seem destined to repeat a terrible tragedy in this new three-part drama.

Strictly: The Christmas Countdown

Christmas Day at 4.45pm on BBC One

BBC

With a traditional Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special out of the question this year thanks to the pandemic, Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman will be fronting a special show counting down the 25 most memorable dances of all time, voted for by the public.

From the perfect 40s, the trophy-winning routines and dances that have made us laugh, the pair will also be joined by the judges and the professional dancers, who will kick things off with a brand new Christmas-themed group number.

The Cube Celebrity

Sunday 20 December at 8pm on ITV

ITV

Following the successful return of the ITV gameshow earlier in the year, Phillip Schofield will be putting celebrities through their paces in a festive-themed edition of The Cube.

McFly’s Danny Jones and DougIe Poynter and comedian Emily Atack and her mum Kate Robbins will be hoping to win the jackpot of £250,000 for their chosen charities as they take on a series of tricky challenges.

The Repair Shop At Christmas

Boxing Day at 6.45pm on BBC One

BBC/Ricochet/Kenny Valaydon

Christmas has arrived at The Repair Shop where its team of passionate and skilled craftspeople are beavering away, repairing and rescuing four beloved festive treasures.

Among the stories on the special episode include that of Steve and Amanda, who bring their cherished rocking horse to the barn. The toy was a Christmas gift for their daughter Tamsin when she was five years old. Tragically, just two years later, their little girl passed away. The horse is now being given a new lease of life to be gifted to their nine-year-old daughter, Hetty, to play on and remember the older sister she never met.

Dancing On Thin Ice With Torvill & Dean

New Year’s Day at 9pm on ITV

ITV

In this 90-minute special, the skating legends travel to Alaska on a quest to fulfil their life-long dream of skating together in the great outdoors for the first time in their 45-year career.

On their way, they discover firsthand the dramatic effects of climate change.

Worzel Gummidge: Saucy Nancy

Christmas Eve at 5.55pm on BBC One

BBC/Leopard Pictures/Amanda Searle/Matt Burlem

Worzel Gummidge is returning for another adventure after the success of last year’s festive special.

When Worzel Gummidge, Susan and John visit a scrapyard, Worzel overhears the grumbling of a foul-mouthed old friend – the carved ship’s figurehead, Saucy Nancy. She has been languishing, unsold in the yard for years and longs to return to the sea. Worzel and the kids promise to get her there, but will her ship be waiting?

Birds Of A Feather

Christmas Eve at 9.15pm on ITV

ITV

The Birds are back for a brand new one-off, which catches up with them in lockdown.

Linda Robson and Lesley Joseph reprise their roles as Tracey Stubbs and Dorien Green with guest star Les Dennis as Dorien’s new flame Graeme.

Pauline Quirke has decided to sit out the special, which Sharon’s absence explained in a very 2020 way.

Celebrity Masterchef Christmas Cook Off

Monday 21 and Wednesday 23 December at 9pm on BBC One

BBC/Shine TV

John Torode and Gregg Wallace invite eight of the most memorable celebrities from series past back to the MasterChef kitchen.

Janet Street-Porter, Christopher Biggins, Dev Griffin, Vicky Pattison, Craig Revel Horwood, Amar Latif, Crissy Rock and Spencer Matthews will compete against each other to see who can take home of the title of Christmas Champion.

It’s Clarkson On TV

Christmas Day at 9.55pm on ITV

ITV

In what sounds absolutely nothing like ITV’s attempt to recreate the success of Charlie Brooker’s annual Screenwipe, Jeremy Clarkson will host a TV review of the year show reviewing the best, worst and most bizarre TV offerings of 2020.

He will be celebrating some of the best of British TV, including gripping dramas like White House Farm, Quiz and Des, as well as featuring the latest offerings from the streaming services including dating shows like Love is Blind to property shows like Selling Sunset.

Mary Berry Saves Christmas

Wednesday 23 December at 6.30pm on BBC One

BBC/Endemol Shine UK/Craig Harman

The original Great British Bake Off judge will teach three hopeless non-cooks to create surprise festive feasts for those closest to them with the help of three celebrity sous chefs – The Repair Shop’s Jay Blades, comedian Tom Allen and presenter Angela Scanlon.

Billy Connolly: It’s Been A Pleasure

Monday 28 December at 9.30pm on ITV

ITV

The legendary Scottish comic will look back at his decades in comedy, after announcing he would be retiring from performing.

Sir Billy, who is living with Parkinson’s Disease, will be joined by a host of famous faces including Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Elton John, Sir Lenny Henry, Dustin Hoffman, Russell Brand, Whoopi Goldberg, Aisling Bea and Sheridan Smith as they look back at his illustrious stand-up career.

He has filmed scenes from his home in the Florida Keys for the show, which will also feature his greatest stand-up moments and unseen performance footage.

Zog And The Flying Doctors

Christmas Day at 2.35pm on BBC One

BBC/Magic Light Pictures

Following the success of the BBC’s 2018 animation of the children’s book, Zog returns with a new adventure.

Zog, Pearl and Gadabout are now a flying doctor trio, caring for creatures including a mermaid, a unicorn and a sneezy lion. However, when bad weather forces them to land at the palace, Pearl is locked up by her uncle, the King. Zog and Gadabout try in vain to set her free.

Sir Lenny Henry leads the cast as the narrator, joined by Rob Brydon as the King and Hugh Skinner as Zog.

QI Christmas Special

Wednesday 23 December at 9.30pm on BBC Two

BBC/Fremantle Media/Talkback

Sandi Toksvig hosts the seasonal QI Christmas Quiz, where she is joined by Chris McCausland, Justin Moorhouse, Holly Walsh, and Alan Davies.

Find out how to get a reindeer into a submarine, what happened when the children of Dijon turned against Santa Claus, and why the Immaculate Conception isn’t what you think it is - and watch the panel set not one, not three, but two new Christmas-themed world records.

Top Of The Pops Christmas Special

Christmas Day at 11.55am on BBC One

BBC

With most live gigs and musical performances banned this year, watching Top Of The Pops on Christmas Day is going to feel extra special in 2020.

Clara Amfo and Fearne Cotton return to front the annual celebration of the year’s biggest pop songs, with performers including Celeste, Clean Bandit, Mabel, Aitch x AJ Tracey, and KSI ft Craig David.

First Dates At Christmas

Christmas Day at 11.10pm on Channel 4

Dave King

Fred and the gang are back to matchmake some singletons.

In a cosy hideaway inspired by the nation’s favourite yuletide rom-coms, singletons from across the UK can expect a Christmas dinner like no other as they search for the most perfect Christmas gift of all - love.

Alan Carr’s Epic Gameshow – The Price Is Right Christmas Special

Christmas Eve at 8.15pm on ITV

ITV

Get ready to “come on down” once again, as Alan Carr returns with his Epic Gameshow.

Lucky audience members will be in with the chance to guess if the price is indeed right on a host of hilarious Christmas prizes, before spinning the wheel and taking on the epic showcase, where they stand to win a mountain of incredible prizes.

Escape To The Chateau At Christmas

Christmas Day at 8.10pm on Channel 4

Channel 4

Join Dick, Angel, Dorothy and Arthur, as well as Angel’s parents Jenni and Steve, as they prepare to celebrate a family Christmas in France.

With an old 19th-century chateau ledger found in the attic and classic cookbooks to hand, the Strawbridges take inspiration from Christmases past, discovering what food, festivities, gifts and games would have been like in bygone eras.

Ghosts

Wednesday 23 December at 8.30pm on BBC One

BBC/Monumental Television/Guido Mandozzi

The hugely successful sitcom is bringing the spirit (literally) of Christmas this festive season, in a new adventure for the ghosts of Button House.

Alison and Mike are hosting his family for the first time, he is determined to make it perfect. However his plan to make his parents relax may be optimistic as Alison is also set on delivering the best Christmas ever for the living and the dead. And it turns out Christmas just isn’t that much fun when you’re deceased...

Ainsley’s Festive Food We Love

Christmas Day at 2pm on ITV

ITV

Everyone’s favourite TV chef Ainsley Harriott will be serving up a Christmas edition of his Saturday cooking show on Christmas Day afternoon.

He’ll have drinks expert Olly Smith on hand to mix up some jolly tipples, with guests including Christopher Biggins, Martine McCutcheon and Brian Turner.

Have I Got 30 Years For You

Christmas Eve at 10.15pm on BBC One

BBC/Hat Trick/Ray Burmiston

To celebrate 30 years of the BBC’s trademark topical panel show, there’s a special look back at three decades of battles, bust ups and guest hosts, along with contributions from the likes of Paul Merton, Ian Hislop, Germaine Greer, Gary Lineker, Victoria Coren Mitchell, Ken Livingstone and Alexander Armstrong.

The Big Fat Quiz Of The Year

Boxing Day at 9.05pm on Channel 4

Channel 4

Question master Jimmy Carr hosts, as celebrity quizzers James Acaster, Stacey Solomon, David Mitchell, Maya Jama, Richard Ayoade and Joe Lycett compete to see who can remember the most about the last 12 months.

The Chase Celebrity Christmas Specials

Christmas Day at 5pm and Boxing Day at 6pm on ITV

ITV

Among the stars taking part in this year’s festive editions of the enduringly popular quiz show include Colin Jackson, Anne Diamond, Josie Long, Nicky Campbell, Tim Lovejoy, Kay Burley, Eni Aluko and Richard Herring.

Will any of them have what it takes to beat the Chasers?

One Night In Hamleys

Christmas Eve at 9pm on Channel 4

Channel 4

It’s A Night In The Museum meets Big as Romesh Ranganathan, Rob Beckett and Tom Allen are locked overnight in world-famous toy shop Hamleys on London’s Regent Street.

With no security guards or grown-ups there to hamper the fun, the three comics run amok, raid the shelves, chat about Christmas, invent daft games to play, and reminisce with funny festive stories, as they hang out after hours and unsupervised in the fun emporium.

Not Going Out Christmas Special

Wednesday 30 December at 9pm on BBC One

BBC/Avalon/Mark Johnson

We join Lee and Lucy hosting a New Year’s Eve gathering for their relatives for a one-off special of the sitcom, and it’s not looking like 2021 is about to get off to the best start.

When parlour games are suspended in favour of a no-holds-barred round of Resolutions, the New Year fireworks might just end up being in the house...

Back To The... 80s / 90s / 00s / 10s

Sunday 27 and Monday 28 December at 9pm, Tuesday 29 and Wednesday 30 December at 10pm on Channel 4

Channel 4

To celebrate four decades of Channel 4, the station is going back in time with a nostalgic look-back at each of the decades it has been on air.

Sir Lenny Henry will steer us through the eighties, Vic Reeves will revisit the heady days of the nineties, Davina McCall will relive the glory days of Big Brother in the 00s edition, while Jimmy Carr will round things off with a look at the 10s.

Stephen Fry’s 21st Century Firsts

Wednesday 30 December at 8.30pm on ITV

ITV

As this century approaches its 21st birthday, Stephen Fry takes a look at the fascinating and groundbreaking things that have happened for the first time, since the year 2000.

There’s interviews with experts and well-known faces, as well as ordinary people involved in some of the breakthroughs, including social media, the first iPhone, the flat white coffee and the legalisation of same-sex marriage.

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? Celebrity

Boxing Day at 9.30pm on ITV

Stellify Media

Jeremy Clarkson will be joined by some famous faces for a celebrity edition of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? as they put their knowledge to the test in an attempt to become the first ever star to win the £1,000,000 prize for charity.

The Big New Year’s In

New Year’s Eve from 9pm on BBC One

kamisoka via Getty Images

With the annual London fireworks cancelled this year due to the pandemic and the majority of us confined to our houses as Big Ben chimes in 2021, the BBC is planning a different sort of celebration to air on New Year’s Eve.

A live entertainment show will run throughout the evening packed with famous faces, before Alicia Keys provides 2020’s New Year’s Eve concert.

Victoria Wood: My Secret List

Christmas Day at 9.10pm on BBC Two

BBC/Phil McIntyre TV/Estate of Victoria Wood

This two-part programme counts down the late comedian’s personal favourite moments from her illustrious TV career.

The 20 sketches - chosen by Victoria herself - were discovered on a list in one of her personal notebooks after her untimely death in 2016.

The countdown will be accompanied by contributions from a number of well-known faces who will discuss her broad catalogue of award-winning comedy.

The Hit List Christmas Special

New Year’s Eve at 5.50pm on BBC One

BBC/Tuesday's Child/Alan Peebles

In this special celebrity edition of the music quiz in which contestants try to recognise as many hit songs and artists as possible, hosts Marvin and Rochelle Humes welcome three temas made up of Paralympians Hannah Cockcroft and Nathan Maguire, actor and musician Martin Kemp with his son and radio host Roman, and singer Fleur East and her make-up blogger sister Keshia.

Who will hit the right note and get the chance to win £10,000 for their chosen charity?

The Last Leg Of The Year

New Year’s Eve at 9pm on Channel 4

Photographer Ian Derry

Adam Hills, Josh Widdicombe and Alex Brooker say an un-fond farewell to 2020, as they look back at the last 12 months and take a punt at what 2021 could have in store for us all.