What To Watch This Christmas

Well. It’s pretty much Christmas. Hopefully you’re more organised than me. In fairness, all that means is that you’ve bought at least one present for someone. I’ve done nothing and, as ever, I’m faced with a horrific dash around a city centre furious at empty shelves.

At least I’ve got the television set to rely on and, this year, the Christmas listings are completely owned by the BBC. In my Best of The Christmas Telly picks, every single show is shown on a BBC channel. Looks like the other broadcasters need to up their game, eh?

So with that, let me wish you a very happy Christmas and a great New Year. 2009 has been one of the weirdest years in modern history (that recession didn’t help did it?)… so here’s to 2010 being better for everyone… except those bankers who get massive bonuses. I hope they get hare-lips at the stroke of midnight.

Christmas Eve

Victoria Wood’s Midlife Christmas, BBC One, 9pm

Victoria Wood is criminally overlooked in the annals of comedy. She’s unfashionable and prefers to coax a belly laugh, rather than go for the jugular. Here, she gently makes fun of Lark Rise to Candleford in Lark Pies to Cranchesterford as well as taking off Sir Alan Sugar’s sidekick Margaret Mountford in an Apprentice send-up. She’ll also show us (again), Bo Beaumont (played by the ever brilliant Julie Walters), the pretentious actress who plays Mrs Overall in Acorn Antiques. Followed by Victoria Wood: What Larks! on 30 December, which is a Behind The Scenes of this Christmas Spesh.

Christmas Day

Doctor Who, The End of Time – Part One, BBC One, 6pm

It’s nearly time for the Doctor to die. Well, they don’t die, rather, regenerate. It’s the closest thing we get to seeing them die (and of course, ensures that we can have endless series of the show… which naturally, is a godsend for fans). Weird dreams fill heads and Wilfred (Bernard Cribbins) is having a particularly bad time of it. This is the first part of the two part demise of David Tennant’s stand as The Doctor. Expect a lot of introspection and musings on mortality. And the Master (John Simm) is back. The End of Time concludes on New Year’s Day.

EastEnders, BBC One, 8pm

It’s almost a by-law that we must all watch Eastenders on Christmas Day. The Queen Vic is generally the hub of gloom and drama (Dirty Den, divorce papers, etc) and this year is no different. Archie Mitchell’s got his feet up in the pub… but he’d better be careful… as half the former cast will tell you, someone tends to die on Christmas Day in The Square and chances are, this year, it’ll be you.

The Royle Family, BBC One, 9pm

In a special called The Golden Egg Cup, The Royles are back and Jim and Barbara are squabbling over what to do with a cash gift from their children. Barbara wants a holiday and Jim wants HD for the TV (I’m with Jim, for the record). Ralf Little is back as Antony (purging the dreadful stint in Two Pints). Expect farts and fun.

Boxing Day

Hamlet, BBC Two, 5:05pm

David Tennant plays the most mental royal to ever grace a stage (or screen) and brings his universally praised performance to our TV screens. Tennant’s Hamlet is “entirely believable” according to the Radio Times… which is great news for Shakespeare heads. Patrick Stewart is also on hand to provide fine support. Worth tuning in if you like a bit of heavy drama… if not, then…

Total Wipeout: Celebrity Special, BBC One, 6pm

People falling over. Famous people. Richard Hammond presents and Joe Swash, Fatima
Whitbread, Ola Jordan and some others get hit in the nuts, face and backside as they tear around a course. Winner gets £10,000 for the charity of their choice.

The Story of Slapstick, BBC Two, 10:15pm

People who don’t like slapstick are joyless idiots. This show is for those who like their brain-laughs mixed up with falling over and cymbals going BOOM TISH! Falling over is a language that is universal. Everything from Buster Keaton to Vic and Bob is included in this show. It might get tired after a while and will invariably end with Del Boy falling through the bar… but it’ll be sure to prompt a few laughs. You can always switch over when you’re bored.

  • BBC One
  • BBC Two
  • BBC Three
  • ITV1
  • ITV2
  • 4
  • E4
  • Film4
  • More4
  • Five
  • Fiver
  • Sky1