Guide to Christmas TV 2017
- Henry Northmore
- 1 November 2017
The Great British Bake Off
Highlights include League of Gentlemen, Great British Bake Off, Victoria, Ratburger, Mrs Brown's Boys and Little Women
Christmas is the one holiday when you don't feel guilty spending the day on the sofa in your pyjamas while ploughing through a family sized box of Celebrations. And thankfully TV channels rise to the occasion with tons of festive treats and Yuletide specials to keep you glued to the google box.
Perhaps the most exciting news is the return of The League of Gentlemen (BBC Two, Mon 18-Wed 20 Dec) for three half hour specials as the full team (Reece Shearsmith, Steve Pemberton, Mark Gatiss and Jeremy Dyson) head to Royston Vasey for more pitch black character comedy. 'We've been dying to do it for ages. This is a really good year because it's been 20 years since we did our Radio 4 series,' Pemberton recently told the Adam Buxton podcast. 'We wanted to do a one hour special essentially but as we started writing the material was just coming out of us.'
Also back is smash hit sitcom Mrs Brown's Boys (BBC One) while Ben Elton's Shakespeare comedy Upstart Crow (BBC Two) scores its first Christmas special. In panel show land Would I Lie To You? (BBC One, Mon 18 Dec), Insert Name Here (BBC Two, Thu 21 Dec), Mock The Week (BBC Two, Wed 20 Dec) and QI (BBC Two) have special episodes. Is Taskmaster (Dave, Wed 13 & 20 Dec) a panel show? As the winners of the last five series return to compete in a champion of champions double bill. Charlie Brooker is also on hand to sum up another tumultuous year in his razor sharp 2017 Wipe (BBC Two – sadly Brooker recently announced on twitter that 2017 Wipe will not be happening). There's a double helping of Jennifer Saunders in 300 Years of French and Saunders (BBC One) and Joanna & Jennifer: Absolutely Champers (BBC Two). Expect some Pub Landlord action in Al Murray's Make Christmas Great Again (ITV) while Alan Partridge: Why, When, Where, How and Whom? (BBC Two, Wed 27 Dec) is a history of Steve Coogan's most famous creation.
The big draw has to be Peter Capaldi's final appearance as Doctor Who (BBC One, Christmas Day) in Twice Upon a Time (also starring David Bradley as the First Doctor) before Jodie Whittaker becomes the first ever female Doctor. The Victorians invented many of our favourite Christmas traditions so Jenna Coleman and Tom Hughes return as Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in a festive edition of Victoria (ITV) feels like the perfect fit.
Ordeal by Innocence (BBC One) was supposed to fill the annual Agatha Christie slot in the December schedules but has been postponed following the investigation into actor Ed Westwick. So we'll have to make do with Crooked House (Channel 5, Sun 17 Dec); Rowan Atkinson's return as French detective Maigret in Montmartre (ITV); a new version of Louisa May Alcott's classic Little Women (BBC One); a three part adaptation of Jessie Burton's The Miniaturist (BBC One); Eric, Ernie & Me (BBC Four) is a one off drama about comedy scriptwriter Eddie Braben and his work with perennial festive favourites Morecambe and Wise. There's also specials from Call the Midwife (BBC One) and Father Brown (BBC One, Mon 14 Dec) if you like that kinda thing.
Everyone was so cynical about The Great British Bake Off moving to Channel 4 but it worked out a treat. And Prue, Paul, Noel and Sandi return for two Christmassy specials featuring favourite contestants from through the years. Popular family favourites Strictly Come Dancing (BBC One, Christmas Day), Cannonball (ITV), Michael McIntyre's Big Show (BBC One), The Crystal Maze (Channel 4, Thu 14 Dec), Top of the Pops (BBC One, Christmas Day and New Year's Eve) and Blind Date (Channel 5) all return with special tinsel drenched episodes.
To see you through New Year there's Jools' Annual Hootenanny 2017 (BBC Two, New Year's Eve), a live performance from Nile Rodgers & CHIC (BBC One, New Year's Eve) and Alan Carr's NYE Spectacular (Channel 4, New Year's Eve) to choose from. And Channel 4 are making Mr Carr work for his mince pies as he also hosts a Chatty Man Christmas Special and a reboot of The Price is Right.
David Walliams children's books have become a publishing phenomenon and both BBC One and Sky 1 have tapped into his brand of kid's comedy with Grandpa's Great Escape (New Year's Day) and Ratburger (Sun 24 Dec) respectively. Another modern Xmas tradition is a brand new adaptation of a Julia Donaldson short story, this year The Highway Rat (BBC One) gets the animated treatment featuring the vocal talents of Rob Brydon and David Tennant. While the kids battle it out with the adults on the Child Genius vs Celebrities Christmas Special (Channel 4). Not forgetting Blue Peter: It's Chriiiiistmaaaaas! (CBBC, Thu 14 Dec) and the Danger Mouse Christmas Special (CBBC, Fri 15 Dec).
BBC One have a host of big films making their terrestrial premiere including Cinderella (Christmas Day), Shaun the Sheep Movie (Boxing Day), Big Hero 6 (Wed 27 Dec), Avengers: Age of Ultron (Sat 30 Dec) and Maleficent (Mon 1 Jan). ITV's big movie is Jurassic World (Boxing Day) and the latest James Bond Spectre (Mon 1 Jan). Channel 4 are screening a selection of classics old and new (including the Back to the Future trilogy Tue 26-Thu 28 Dec and Paddington, Tue 26 Dec) plus premieres of Chevalier (Wed 27 Dec) and Slow West (Thu 28 Dec).