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What to watch on TV on Christmas Eve

Ellie Walker-Arnott

'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house not a creature was stirring... because literally everyone was watching telly.

Whether you're after some last-minute Christmas spirit, a family-friendly film or a little light entertainment to keep you going while you prep your sprouts, here's the best films and TV on this Christmas Eve: 

Miracle on 34th Street

Richard Attenborough brings bags of twinkly charm to this remake of the classic story – you truly believe he might be the actual Father Christmas. 11am, Film4. 

Despicable Me

An animated treat for your inner child (or actual child) on Christmas Eve morning. Suburban supervillain Gru, voiced by Steve Carell, hatches a plan to steal the moon and adopts three adorable orphans to assist in his nefarious plan. But nothing has prepared him for the challenge of parenthood… 11.20am, ITV. 

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone 

On the first day of Christmas, ITV sent to me: ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’. Get ready for a nostalgia-fest. Over Christmas ITV is showing all seven Harry Potter films over seven days. It all starts here, with two and a half hours of Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint looking bright-eyed, bushy tailed and impossibly young. 1.30pm, ITV. 

The Snowman

The Snowman

It’s not Christmas without Aled Jones warbling ‘Walking in the Air’ while an innocent child is abducted by a large white guy with a carrot on his face. This adaptation of Raymond Briggs’s story has become a festive staple, and it’s easy to see why. 4.45pm, Channel 4.

Carols from King's

Take a break from carrot peeling and present wrapping. Stick this iconic Christmas carol concert on for a moment of stillness and tranquillity on the evening before the big day. 5.45pm, BBC2. 

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt

More animated delights. Channel 4 are bringing this charming kids book to the small screen this Christmas, with Olivia Colman and Pam Ferris lending their voices to the animation. Expect to feel fantastically festive. And five again. Watch the trailer here7.30pm, Channel 4.

The Lady in the Van

Gogglesproggs Christmas Special

The end of the year is nigh, so it's the ideal time to have a bunch of funny, small humans have their say on the weird and not-so-wonderful events of 2016. If we can’t get our adult heads around it, god knows what this little lot will think. 8pm, Channel 4.


Missing Christmas staple 'Downton Abbey'? Here's your festive period drama fix. James Norton's dishy priest is back for a festive caper this Christmas Eve. Snow is falling and children are dressing up as donkeys in the name of the village nativity, but naturally Sidney and Geordie soon have a grisly murder case to solve. 9pm, ITV.

The Lady in the Van 

It’s a pile-up of national treasures as Maggie Smith plays Miss Shepherd, the woman who lived for many years in a clapped-out van in playwright Alan Bennett’s driveway. Alex Jennings plays Bennett, and the filmmakers shot this lively, funny tale, written by Bennett himself, in the writer’s own former Camden Town home. It’s not massively deep but it’s very entertaining. 9pm, BBC2. 

More TV? Here's our pick of the best TV to watch this Christmas

Fancy a film? Here are the best movies on TV this Christmas, the best Christmassy movies on TV and the best Christmas movies of all time. Plus, the best movies on Netflix and the best family-friendly kids' movies on Netflix

Happy Christmas! 

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