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The best Christmas TV to watch this year

Our guide to the best TV shows, Christmas specials and returning favourites on television over Christmas 2016

Ellie Walker-Arnott
Written by
Ellie Walker-Arnott
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Christmas is a time for presents, overindulgence and really good telly. This year we’ve got detective dramas like ‘Witness for the Prosecution’ and ‘Maigret’s Dead Man’, Christmas classics like ‘Doctor Who’ and ‘Call the Midwife’, and returning favourites with ‘Outnumbered’, ‘Charlie Brooker’s 2016 Wipe’ and ‘Inside No 9’. Not forgetting the start of ‘Sherlock’ series four on New Year’s Day. These TV treats are guaranteed to keep you glued to the box from Christmas Eve until 2017. 

RECOMMENDED: The best films on TV this Christmas

The best Christmas TV

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt
Channel 4

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt

Channel 4 is bringing Michael Rosen’s charming kids’ story 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.

Christmas Eve, 7.30pm, Channel 4.

Carols from King’s
BBC

Carols from King’s

Forget those stacks of unwrapped presents. Stick this warm ‘n’ fuzzy Christmas carol concert on for a moment of stillness and tranquillity on the evening before the big day.

Christmas Eve, 5.45pm, BBC2.
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Granchester
ITV

Granchester

The 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.

Christmas Eve, 9pm, ITV.
Gogglesproggs Christmas Special
Channel 4

Gogglesproggs Christmas Special

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.

Christmas Eve, 8pm, Channel 4.

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Top of the Pops Christmas
BBC

Top of the Pops Christmas

The old BBC classic is back for the festive season. Bop along to this year’s Christmas Number One with Fearne Cotton and Reggie Yates before your Christmas lunch.

Christmas Day, 1.50pm, BBC1.
The Great Christmas Bake Off
BBC

The Great Christmas Bake Off

Say a fond and final farewell to ‘Bake Off’ as we know and love it. Paul, Mary, Mel and Sue have all teamed up for the last time to welcome eight returning bakers to the tent. It’s set to be a bittersweet Christmas treat.

Christmas Day, 4.45pm and Boxing Day, 7pm, BBC1.
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Doctor Who
BBC

Doctor Who

After a year, the Doctor is back for more timey-wimey nonsense in the shape of a superhero-studded Christmas special. Peter Capaldi is joined by Charity Wakefield and Matt Lucas for a sci-fi special that will see New York come under threat from aliens once more.

Christmas Day, 5.45pm, BBC1.
The Last Dragonslayer
Sky

The Last Dragonslayer

Sky’s big Christmas drama is set in the Ununited Kingdom where 15-year-old orphan Jennifer Strange reluctantly discovers her destiny to become the last Dragonslayer. The tale is based on Jasper Fforde’s fantasy novels.

Christmas Day, 5.45pm, Sky1.
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Call the Midwife
BBC

Call the Midwife

The nuns and midwives of Nonnatus House get a change of scenery this Christmas, swapping London for South Africa. But don’t go thinking that means the Beeb’s period drama won’t have you sobbing into your turkey sandwich like usual.

Christmas Day, 8pm, BBC1.
Maigret’s Dead Man
ITV

Maigret’s Dead Man

Forget Mr Bean, Rowan Atkinson is the much more serious French detective Maigret this Christmas. He’s starring as the titular detective in this feature-length film based on Georges Simenon’s 1948 novel.

Christmas Day, 9pm, ITV.

Fancy a festive film instead?

The 50 best Christmas movies
  • Film

From psycho Santas and home-invading thieves to feelgood fireside frolics and cockle-warming cosiness, our cinematic sack is bulging with treats.

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