The Best TV To Watch Over The Christmas Break

Christmas TV rarely disappoints, and this year is no exception. From family-friendly shows on the BBC to bingeworthy series on Netflix, here’s what to watch over the break…
By Sherri Andrew /

FRIDAY 23RD DECEMBER

Motherland: Last Christmas, 9.30pm, BBC1

Julia (Anna Maxwell Martin) is facing a huge amount of stress dealing with the grandparents over Christmas. Taking pity on Kevin (Paul Ready) who’s facing a truly bleak Christmas, Julia has invited him along. As for Liz (Diane Morgan), her ex has cancelled, so she arrives as well. The motley crew come together to try and make it a Christmas to remember.

A Ghost Story For Christmas: Count Magnus, 10pm, BBC2

Sweden, 1863. A country not much visited by Englishmen. An exception is the inquisitive Mr Wraxhall, whose innocent rummaging through the archives of the noble de la Gardie family takes a sinister turn. Wraxhall becomes fascinated by the long-dead founder of the dynasty, the fearsome Count Magnus, a tyrannical ruler who dabbled in alchemy and who once made a strange journey to the Holy Land on unholy business. Despite the warnings of his hosts, Wraxhall is drawn ever deeper into the Count’s dark world and discovers that the dreaded aristocrat may not lie easy in his tomb...

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, Netflix

The sequel to Rian Johnson's Knives Out sees Daniel Craig return as Detective Benoit Blanc. This fresh adventure finds the intrepid detective at a lavish private estate on a Greek island, but how and why he comes to be there is only the first of many puzzles. Blanc soon meets a distinctly disparate group of friends gathering at the invitation of billionaire Miles Bron for their yearly reunion. When someone turns up dead, everyone is a suspect. Also stars Edward Norton, Janelle Monáe and Kate Hudson.


CHRISTMAS EVE

Mary Berry's Ultimate Christmas, 11.25, BBC1

Home cook Dame Mary Berry is joined by some famous friends for her ultimate Christmas feast, and she’s full of tips to plan ahead for the big day. She shares her definitive recipes, perfected over 50 years, including a deliciously simple stilton and sage mini scone canapé, followed by her traditional Christmas feast, including her lemon and herb roast turkey with all the trimmings.

The Boy, The Mole, The Fox & The Horse, 4.55pm, BBC1

Charlie Mackesy’s book The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse has been adapted for the small screen. Narrated by Idris Elba, the story follows four friends who share a deep, unshakable bond. Through a series of profound conversations, the unlikely group explore themes of kindness, compassion and building connections with those from all walks of life.

Carols From King’s, 6.55pm, BBC2

The traditional Christmas celebration is recorded in the candlelit chapel of King's College, Cambridge with the college's world-renowned choir. This year’s service will be introduced by the Dean, the Rev Dr Stephen Cherry, before members of the college read from the bible and poems by Denise Levertov and UA Fanthorpe.

Royal Carols: Together at Christmas, 7pm, ITV1

The Princess of Wales hosts a special Christmas carol service at Westminster Abbey. Attended by the King, this year’s service will pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth II. Combining traditional and modern elements to include people of all faiths and none, the service will see the Westminster Abbey choir perform some of the nation’s most beloved carols, including ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful’, which was selected through a public poll last week. Catherine Zeta-Jones narrates.

The Great Christmas Bake Off, 8.25pm, Channel 4

A new batch of famous bakers take to the tent in another festive edition of the baking show. Competing for the judges’ praise is former Big Breakfast presenter Gaby Roslin, Brookside’s Claire Sweeney, The Word host Terry Christian and actor and broadcaster Sir Tony Robinson.

Britain Get Singing, 8.05pm, ITV1

Roman Kemp hosts as groups of stars from TV's biggest shows go head-to-head in a spectacular sing-off. The famous singers are from Love Island, The Chase, Loose Women, Emmerdale and Coronation Street, with the likes of Michael Le Vell, Denise Welch, Lisa Riley, Linda Robson, Anne Hegerty, Jodie Prenger and Danica Taylor taking to the stage. Will.i.am, Alesha Dixon, Adam Lambert and Jason Manford will judge the competition.

Top Of The Pops: Review Of The Year 2022, 10.40pm, BBC2

Clara Amfo and Jack Saunders look back over the past 12 months, presenting performances by Harry Styles, Stormzy, Sam Fender, Raye and Sam Smith. Also joining the presenters is 2022 British breakthrough star Cat Burns, who performs her hit ‘Go’, and Sam Ryder, who chats about life after his successful run at the Eurovision Song Contest in May.


CHRISTMAS DAY

Matthew Bourne's Nutcracker!, 1.30pm, BBC2

Matthew Bourne's contemporary take on the classic Christmas ballet features Tchaikovsky's much-loved score. The story follows Clara's bittersweet journey from a darkly comic Christmas Eve at Dr Dross's Orphanage, through an ice-skating winter wonderland to the candy kingdom of Sweetieland, all influenced by the lavish Hollywood musicals of the 1930s.

King Charles III Christmas Speech, 3pm, BBC1

King Charles III will address the nation for the first time as head of state following Queen Elizabeth II’s death. His Majesty is expected to address some of the biggest issues facing the country today, from the ongoing cost-of-living crisis to climate change.

Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special, 5.10pm BBC1

Once this year’s Strictly winner has been crowned, Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman will return with another festive special. A new line-up of stars will take to the dancefloor in the hopes of receiving a ten from the judges. The winner will follow in the footsteps of singer Anne-Marie who claimed the Christmas title last year with her partner Graziano Di Prima.


Call the Midwife Christmas Special, 7.55pm, BBC1

The midwives of Nonnatus House return for another Christmas special of Call the Midwife. The 90-minute episode will see the return of Rhoda Mullucks, whose baby was born with birth defects after Dr Turner prescribed her medication – a series six plot that tackled the Thalidomide scandal.

EastEnders, 9.25pm, BBC1

Shirley and Linda are surprised when Janine invites them for Christmas dinner, leading to a vicious row as Shirley tries to expose her son's fiancé. But the arrival of another unexpected guest only adds to the tension – and leaves Mick wondering about the woman he is marrying. Meanwhile, Alfie has a plan to create a magic Christmas for Kat and the kids by dressing as Santa and abseiling from the roof of the Mitchell house.


BOXING DAY

The Greatest Snowman, 7.30pm, Channel 4

Sue Perkins presents The Greatest Snowman – Channel 4's snow building competition. In this festive special, celebrities will travel to a snowy mountaintop to build snow creations that will be judged by Swedish sculpting sisters Sara and Emilie Steele, and British artist Taslim Martin.

The Big Fat Quiz Of The Year 2022, 9pm, Channel 4

Jimmy Carr hosts this annual end-of-year quiz. Stephen Merchant, Katherine Ryan, Richard Ayoade, Maisie Adam, Jonathan Ross and Rose Matafeo are quizzed on the strange events of 2022. As ever, Charles Dance, Jon Snow and the children of Mitchell Brook Primary School are on hand to help Jimmy ask his questions.

Made In Chelsea: Bonjour Baby, 9pm, E4

Maeva and James are days away from their due date and tensions couldn’t be running higher. Not only could the baby come at any moment, but they have also got the chaos of moving to a new house to deal with. With the help of Digby, James rushes to finish the nursery, and Robbie and Joel help to take Maeva's mind off things by arranging a bump cast in celebration of Maeva's prenatal body.

Treason, Netflix

Trained and groomed by MI6, Adam Lawrence’s career seems set. But when the past catches up with him in the form of Kara, a Russian spy with whom he shares a complicated past, he is forced to question everything and everyone in his life. A triangular relationship forms between Kara, Adam and his wife Maddy – three people who are trying to expose each other’s secrets, navigate political and diplomatic relationships, all while hanging onto their personal lives, and those they love most.


WEDNESDAY 28TH DECEMBER

Dogs In The Wild: Meet The Family, 8pm, BBC1

Chris Packham narrates a documentary following the lives of wild dog packs across the world. Featuring astonishing cinematography combined with emotional and immersive storytelling, the programme follows the packs from the rugged peaks of the Himalayas to the blistering Sahara desert, revealing fresh perspectives on their diversity and unusual behaviours.

Mayflies, 9pm, BBC1

In the summer of 1986, Jimmy (Martin Compston) and Tully (Tony Curran) start a brilliant friendship based on music, films and the rebel spirit. With school over and the locked world of their fathers before them, they rush towards the climax of their youth – a magical weekend in Manchester, the epicentre of everything that inspires them in working-class Britain. There, against the greatest soundtrack ever recorded, a vow is made: to go at life differently. Thirty years on, half a life away, the phone rings. Tully has the worst kind of news, and a request that will test their friendship, love, and loyalty to the limit…

Without Sin, ITVX

ITV’s new streaming service will air this new psychological series. It’s produced by and stars Vicky McClure (Line of Duty) who plays Stella, a woman trying to cope with the loss of her 14-year-old daughter Maisy who’s found dead at the family home with a man called Charles standing over her. Three years later, Charles is behind bars and Stella agrees to visit him alongside a justice mediator.


THURSDAY 29TH DECEMBER

Prince Andrew The Musical, 9pm, Channel 4

Kieran Hodgson (How Europe Stole My Mum, Two Doors Down) leads a cast of comics in a satirical send-up of the life and times of Prince Andrew. The storyline of the musical centres on the key events, relationships and controversies of Andrew’s life, including a reimagining of the former-HRH’s bombshell interview with Emily Maitlis.

Marie Antoinette, 9pm, BBC2

This eight-part period drama starts tonight. Based on the life of the young French queen, Marie Antoinette (Emilia Schüle) is drawn into a dark, manipulative court of Versailles. Her duty is to bear an heir, but her fate will set a country on fire.


FRIDAY 30TH DECEMBER

Celebrity MasterChef Festive Extravaganza, 9pm, BBC1

Another group of celebs will enter the MasterChef kitchen for a series of culinary challenges, this time in a bid to win the Christmas title. Judges John Torode and Greg Wallace will welcome contestants including Happy Mondays legend Bez, athlete Iwan Thomas, popstar Josh Cuthbert, and opera singer Lesley Garrett.

White Noise, Netflix

Based on the novel by Don DeLillo, White Noise stars Oscar nominees Adam Driver, Greta Gerwig and Don Cheadle. A Noah Baumbach film, it will land on Netflix on 30th December. At once hilarious and horrifying, White Noise dramatises a contemporary American family's attempts to deal with the mundane conflicts of everyday life while grappling with the universal mysteries of love, death and the possibility of happiness in an uncertain world.

Wildcat, Amazon Prime

Wildcat follows the emotional and inspiring story of a young veteran on his journey into the Amazon. There, he meets a young woman running a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation centre, and his life finds new meaning as he is entrusted with the life of an orphaned baby ocelot. What was meant to be an attempt to escape from life, turns out to be an unexpected journey of love, discovery and healing.


NEW YEAR’S EVE

The Graham Norton Show New Year’s Eve Special, 10.25pm, BBC1

Graham Norton hosts a special episode of his award-winning chat show for New Year’s Eve. Oscar winner Olivia Colman joins him on the sofa to promote her new movie Empire of Light. She’s joined by her co-star Micheal Ward, Hugh Laurie, Romesh Ranganathan and Lioness footballer Leah Williamson.

Jools’s Annual Hootenanny, 11.30pm, BBC2

Jools Holland will be on hand for another year of music and festivities to ring in 2023. Expect performances from a mix of music royalty and recent breakout acts including George Ezra, Self Esteem, Cat Burns, Andy Fairweather, Gabrielle and more.

Sam Ryder Rocks New Year’s Eve, 11.30pm, BBC1

After coming second in Eurovision and releasing his debut album, Sam Ryder returns to the stage to host New Year’s Eve concert. He’ll be joined by Melanie C, Sigrid and Justin Hawkins.


NEW YEAR’S DAY

Happy Valley, 9pm, BBC1

The third and final season of Happy Valley will start the New Year on BBC1. Police officer Catherine (Sarah Lancashire) investigates a gangland murder that leads all the way to the evil Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton). Her 16-year-old grandson Ryan is getting older and keen to know more about his father despite Catherine's attempts to keep them apart.


MONDAY 2ND JANUARY

Frozen Planet II: Worlds of Wonder, 8pm, BBC1

This special episode brings together highlights of a journey from the Arctic to the Antarctic. It begins on the frozen Arctic Ocean. It’s the end of winter, and as the sun returns, two polar bears meet on the ice. Meanwhile on the coast of Greenland, the Arctic pack ice serves a very important purpose – as a nursery for baby harp seals. The journey finishes in the coldest, darkest winter on Earth, when emperor penguin chicks face one of the toughest upbringings on the planet.

Stonehouse, 9pm, ITV1

The three-part series will tell the life and times of disgraced Labour minister John Stonehouse (Matthew Macfadyen). In the early 70s Stonehouse became embroiled with Czech intelligence and had a scandalous affair with his secretary. To cover it all up, he hatched a far-fetched plan to leave behind his loving wife Barbara (Keeley Hawes) and their three young children to disappear.


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