Amongst all the 2020 uncertainty and tier systems throwing a spanner in the works, one thing we can absolutely count on without any kind of covid-19 shaped caveat is festive-themed tv.
So, kick back, relax, fuel yourself with Quality Street and let the credits roll. From Netflix originals to Christmas specials, here’s a look at this year’s festive tv highlights.
Dash & Lily
A candy cane sweet rom-com based on Rachel Cohn and David Levithan’s YA series, Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares. When Dash (Austin Abrams) discovers the notebook Lily (Midori Frances) leaves in her favourite bookstore, they start trading dares, dreams and desires in its pages back and forth across New York during the holiday season. Lily loves Christmas whilst Dash is a total Grinch but opposites attract and the two strangers start falling in l-o-v-e. Extremely watchable 25-minute ish episodes of feel-good festive charm. If you loved You’ve Got Mail, you’ll love this.
Watch it on: Netflix.
The perfect winter drama for cosy nights on the sofa with the tree twinkling away in the background and a glass of mulled wine steaming up your glasses. With four seasons of love affairs, political rivalries, romances and all the events that shaped the second half of the 20th century, consider this your warm up to the Queen’s yuletide speech. Season 4 is a cracker!
Watch it on: Netflix
The Story of SM:TV Live
Ant McPartlin, Dec Donnelly and Cat Deeley reunite on our screens for a one-off SM:TV Live documentary, 17 years after they hosted the Saturday morning children’s tv show. From Wonkey Donkey and Dec Says, take a trip down memory lane as the presenters look back at some of the show’s funniest moments.
Watch it on: ITV, Boxing Day, 9.25am and again, on December 27, 8pm.
Mariah Carey’s Magical Christmas Special
Christmas is un-cancelled, the undisputed queen of Christmas Mariah has spoken. Starring Ariana Grande, Snoop Dogg and Jennifer Hudson, this star-studded one of a kind holiday spectacular is not to be missed. Que the sleigh bells, sequins and whistle notes.
Watch it on: Apple TV+ from December 4.
Call the Midwife Christmas special
Tune into the cosy community drama for the Christmas special. Expect 90-minutes of laughter, tears and newborn babies – it’s a season tradition.
Watch it on: BBC One, Christmas Day, 7.40pm
The Vicar of Dibley in Lockdown
Dawn French is back in the dog collar as she reprises her role as everyone’s favourite vicar in this three-part mini-series inspired by lockdown. This year, Geraldine Grainger delivers her virtual sermons to her parishioners via Zoom and it’s set to be the comedy hug we all need.
Watch it on: BBC1 Starts from December 7, 8.50pm but will air an a half-hour special layer in the month
The Great Bake Off Christmas Special
Four bakers return to the famous tent to compete for those Star Baker credentials. Taking part in the festive special will be 2019 contestants Rosie Brandreth and Jamie Finn, alongside 2018 finalist Ruby Bhogal and James Hillery from the 2017 series. PS ya girl Prue Leith is rocking ethereal blue hair for the occasion and now we want blue hair for Christmas.
We’re also getting a New Year special with Helena Garcia and Henry Bird from the 2019 series, as well as 2014 winner Nancy Birtwhistle and 2018 winner Rahul Mandal.
Watch it on: Channel 4, tbc
Dr Who: Revelation of the Daleks
This year’s festive special will see Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor and her TARDIS Team up against the deadly Daleks.
Watch it on: BBC One, New Year’s Day
Roald & Beatrix: The Tail of the Curious Mouse
A heart-warming comedy drama featuring a stellar cast, including Dawn French as Beatrix Potter, Jessica Hynes, Rob Brydon, Alison Steadman, Nina Sosanya, Bill Bailey and Nick Mohammed. This 90-minute festive film tells the real-life story of when a lonely six-year-old Roald met his literary hero, Beatrix Potter, before going on to write magical children’s books of his own.
Watch it on: Sky One, from Christmas Eve, 8.15pm
Birds of a Feather
The sitcom classic will return for a one-off Christmas special this year. Three years after we last saw them, Linda Robson and Lesley Joseph reprise their roles as Tracey Stubbs and Dorien Green for the episode, while Les Dennis will make an appearance as Dorien’s new flame, Graeme. Unfortunately, Pauline Quirke, who plays Sharon, won’t be joining her feathered friends as she’s focusing on her 200 nationwide performing arts academies. We’ll miss you, Shazza!
Watch it on: ITV – tbc
It’s been a quarter of a century since Bridget Jones first made her appearance in a newspaper column detailing her troubled relationships with men, booze, cigarettes and diet culture. Now, 25 years on, BBC Two celebrates the legacy of Helen Fielding’s character and one of the most defining figures of the 1990s.
Watch it on: BBC Two, tbc
First Dates at Christmas
Fred Sirieix and his team of merry matchmakers are back playing cupid again. With some of the nation’s favourite rom-coms for inspiration, hopeful singles are leaving London behind and making their way to a cosy pub in the countryside in search of a holidate.
Watch it on: Channel 4, December 23, 9pm
Jack and the Beanstalk: After Ever After
Starring David Walliams as the giant, Blake Harrison and Sheridan Smith, Sky One’s Christmas comedy special starts where the happy ever after fable ends. In this festive reimagining, the giant is very much alive, albeit a little concussed, and he forms an unlikely friendship with Jack.
Watch it on: Sky One and NOW TV, December 23, 8pm
One Night in…Hamleys
Take three comedians, one night in a world-famous toy store, no grown-ups or security guards to hamper the fun and you’ve got a recipe for tv gold. Narrated by Sarah Millican, this is A Night At The Museum meets Big, as Romesh Ranganathan, Rob Beckett and Tom Allen run amok in the Regent Street toy shop after hours, inventing games and sharing festive stories. The rules are sleeping is cheating, leave it how you found it and if they break it, they pay for it.
Watch it on: Channel 4, Christmas Eve, 9pm
Strictly: The Christmas Countdown
There won’t be a glitterball trophy dance floor battle this year due to coronavirus restrictions, but we will still get a festive dose of dancing as the Strictly special looks back on the most iconic performances of all time.
Watch it on: BBC One, Christmas Day
Based on Rumer Godden’s iconic 1930s novel about forbidden love and sexual repression, the three-part drama is set in the Himalayas and follows Sister Clodagh and the nuns of St Faiths as they travel to Nepal to set up a branch of their order in the remote location of Mopu.
Watch it on: BBC One, December 27, 9pm