Christmas TV guide and listings 2018: What’s on and when – Series, films and specials on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and beyond

It's time to get your favourite red pen out and to start circling your must-watch shows on TV this festive season.

We round up the best TV shows to watch over the holidays, including all the festive specials, big new dramas and classic films.

Pass us the Quality Street and pour us an Eggnogg, it’s almost time for Christmas and that means there’s even more fantastic TV to watch.

[Read more: The Netflix Christmas hotlist – All the best festive treats streaming now]

[Read more: What's new on Prime Video this Christmas]

Whether you want some new tasty new dramas to devour alongside your turkey sandwich or a festive family classic as an accompaniment to a plate of pigs in blankets, the only problem this Christmas will be figuring out how you can fit in all the great new shows.

Bookmark this page and we’ll keep you updated on the best shows to snuggle down with and update you with all the dates and times for the essential Christmas movies – we don’t want anybody missing their annual screening of Elf and Love Actually.

BBC Christmas highlights

Rob Brydon in the Would I Lie To You Christmas special

Christmas Eve

Zog

Christmas Day

The ABC Murders

Boxing Day

New Year's Day

New Year's Day

All Together Now Celebrities - 7.15pm

EastEnders - 8.30pm

Click and Collect - 9pm

Would I Lie You? At Christmas - 10pm

The Royle Family - 10.30pm

Zog - 4.50pm

Strictly Christmas Special - 5.30pm

Michael McIntyre's Big Christmas Show - 6.45pm

Call the Midwife - 7.45pm

EastEnders - 9.15pm

Mrs Brown’s Boys - 10.15pm

Trolls - 15.50

The BFG - 17.40

The Midnight Gang - 7.30pm

EastEnders - 8.30pm

The ABC Murders - 9pm

Match of the Day - 10.20pm

Inside Out - 5pm

Doctor Who - 7pm

EastEnders - 8pm

Luther - 9pm

Mrs Brown's Boys - 10pm

Watching on BT TV means you won't miss a thing this Christmas.

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If you know what you want to watch, just use the search button and it will find everything streaming on Freeview, BT TV, Netflix or Prime Video. Find out more >

Gripping must-see dramas

Luther

The BBC is pulling out the big guns over Christmas period with the return Idris Elba and his big coat for series 5 of Luther.
Grisly murders and dark criminal underworlds aren’t the most festive TV, but the return of John Luther in a complex and nightmarish new mystery is not to be missed.

Episode one premieres on New Year's Day at 9pm.

If you like your murder mysteries with a little less blood splatter and a helping of Belgian detectives, the latest lavish Agatha Christie adaptation should be on your festive list.

The ABC Murders

John Malkovich takes on the role of Hercule Poirot in The ABC Murders and is joined by an incredible cast including Rupert Grint, Andrew Buchan, Tara Fitzgerald and Shirley Henderson. Writer Sarah Phelps strikes a darker tone with her Agatha Christie stories, so don’t go expecting the cuddly warmth of the David Suchet series. The three-parter starts on Boxing Day at 9pm.

If you’re looking for something epic, look no further than Andrew Davies’ six-part adaptation of Les Misérables.

The classic Victor Hugo 19th century novel set during the French civil war has an all-star cast including Dominic West, David Oyelowo, Lily Collins, Olivia Colman and Adeel Akhtar. It starts on Sunday, December 30th.

Doctor Who fans won’t have their usual Christmas Day fix, but Jodie Whittaker has travelled in her Tardis to a new slot on New Year’s Day – the perfect way to kick off 2019.

A special Christmas gift from AMC - the drama channel exclusive to BT customers - will be airing all 62 episodes of Breaking Bad in the ultimate TV marathon.

Starting on Christmas Eve, every single episode will be shown back-to-back on the BT TV channel 332/381 HD.

Breaking Bad on AMC at Christmas

The (Walter) White Christmas extravaganza is the perfect present for TV fanatics while they wait for the turkey to finish roasting. Ho, ho, Heisenberg.

Big belly laugh comedy

Gavin & Stacey

After tucking into a large helping of mince pies and a family row over the annual game of charades, you’ll probably need a good laugh and there are plenty of comedies – new and vintage – to make this Christmas a merry one.

Christmas Gold – BT TV channel 310 – is the number one destination for classic Christmas specials with a winter wonderland of all your favourite festive sitcoms.

From December 1st to January 1st, the channel will be dedicated to seasonal specials of British comedy favourites from Gavin and Stacey and Porridge to Only Fools and Horses and My Family.

Morecambe and Wise

Gold also a special Christmas gift with the brand new documentary Morecambe & Wise in America. Hosted by Jonathan Ross, the series will feature classic archive footage never seen before in the UK of Eric and Ernie’s trips to New York and appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show.

All the BBC's biggest comedy hits will be returning for specials with a sprinkling of snow and Christmas magic.
The long list includes Michael McIntyre’s annual Christmas Big Show, two new Mrs Brown’s Boys specials, Would I Like To You At Christmas?, QI, Mock the Week and Live at the Apollo.

Must-see comedies this Christmas include Lee Mack’s live special of Not Going Out and Stephen Merchant’s Click & Collect – a comedy drama about two mismatched neighbours racing across the country to pick up the must-have Christmas toy of the year, Sparklehoof the Unicorn Princess. Merchant co-stars in the series with Asim Chaudhry (People Just Do Nothing).

Click & Collect

BBC Two celebrates 20 years of Goodness Gracious Me and has a special tribute to the late Ken Dodd in How Tickled We Were.

Channel 4 gets into the festive mood with an Alan Carr's Christmas Cracker, an 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown Christmas special, the Last Leg Christmas special and the always popular Big Fat Quiz of the Year, hosted by Jimmy Carr.

Alan Carr's Christmas Cracker

Fun for all the family

Zog

If you want to avoid any rows over the remote, why not cuddle up together on the sofa for some TV that everyone can enjoy this Christmas.

Everyone from grandma to the grandkids will fall in love with the latest Julia Donaldson animation – Zog. Featuring the voices of Lenny Henry, Tracey Ullman and Hugh Skinner, the tale of clumsy young dragon Zog is a magical short film from the creators of The Gruffalo, The Highway Rat and Stick Man.

In another festive tradition, David Walliams is back on the BBC with an adaptation of his book The Midnight Gang, which he will star in alongside Alan Davies and Haydyn Gwynne.

Over on ITV, Olly Murs will be dishing out the party poppers and sherry in his own Happy Hour special, which will be packed full of music, banter and some special guests.

Christmas LEGO Masters

Meanwhile, Channel 4 has a festive special of The Crystal Maze and some Christmas present inspiration with a celebrity edition of LEGO Masters – think Bake Off with bricks.

The must-watch family event of the Christmas is the BBC’s higly-anticipated new featue-length Watership Down, bringing the Richard Adams novel to a new generation.

Watership Down

Telling the story of a band of rabbits led by Hazel and Fiver are an incredible A-list cast including James McAvoy, Nicholas Hoult, John Boyega, Olivia Colman, Sir Ben Kingsley, Peter Capaldi and Gemma Arterton, Mackenzie Crook, Anne-Marie Duff, Taron Egerton, Freddie Fox, Daniel Kaluuya, Rory Kinnear, Craig Parkinson, Rosamund Pike, Jason Watkins, and Gemma Chan.

Get the whole family singing along with a special celebrity edition of the BBC’s surprise entertainment hit All Together Now, which will feature household names taking to the stage with Rob Beckett and Geri Halliwell and showing off their karaoke skills. Will any of the celebs manage to get ‘The 100’ on their feet?

A Classic Christmas

Sports Personality of the Year

There are some TV traditions that are as big a part of Christmas as turkey and roast potatoes.

Christmas TV kicks off as it always does with the BBC Sports Personality of the Year, looking back at eventful year of sport live in Birmingham.

The 65th SPOTY will host 12,000 in the arena, including 1,000 sporting greats, who celebrate the Coach, Unsung Hero, Team, Sporting Moment and Personality of the Year.

It wouldn’t Christmas time on the BBC without some Morecambe & Wise and this year BBC Two has a special treat with the original broadcasts from 1968 airing for the first time in 50 years. The black and white episodes were recently found in a derelict cinema in Sierra Leone and have now been transferred into colour.

Call the Midwife

The BBC will dish up a Christmas Day platter of Top of the Pops, Strictly Come Dancing and emotional drama with Call the Midwife.
The festive visit to Nonnatus House includes an appearance from Miriam Margolyes as Sister Mildred, who unexpectedly arrives with four Chinese orphans. Meanwhile, Trixie returns to Poplar refreshed and Valerie is in charge of a baby ballet Christmas performance.

It was last year's most watched show on Christmas Day and it will air this year in the prime spot of 7.45pm.

Channel 4 will have everyone weeping all over again with a return of their smash hit Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds with a Christmas twist.

Old People's Home for Four Year Olds at Christmas

And for everyone who likes celebrating the true meaning of Christmas, the BBC will have Christmas at St Paul’s, Carol’s from King’s, Midnight Mass from Buckfast Abbey and seasonal Songs of Praise.

Christmas Dinner inspiration – move over, Brussels sprouts

Jamie Oliver's Quick and Easy Christmas

If you're festive dinners can’t even be saved by a gallon of gravy, take some inspiration from the mouthwatering platter of food shows on this Christmas.

Bake Off fans suffering from withdrawal symptoms at their lack of eggs, flour and Rahul, will be pleased to discover that there are two seasonal specials this year with Prue, Paul, Sandi and Noel all getting into the festive spirit and sporting their best Christmas jumpers.

Four merry bakers from Bake Off past join Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding as they do battle in festive-themed challenges.

Great British Bake Off

Good Food (BT TV channel number 313/388 HD) turns into Christmas Food from December 1st and specials this year include classic Bake Off Christmas episodes, Donal's Christmas Special, Victoria Wood's Nice Cup of Tea and Jimmy's Grow Your Own Christmas Dinner.

Nadiya Party Feasts

Jamie Oliver will be delivering a Quick and Easy Christmas on Channel 4, Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain has some Party Feasts on BBC Two and there’s a special serving of Festive Bake Off for those who like a tasty desert trolley with their Christmas dinner.

Meanwhile, the BBC are giving us a double helping of Mary Berry for the holidays with her Christmas Party and County House at Christmas offering some inspiration for anyone bored of the same old overcooked sprouts and carrots.

Christmas movie magic - when are your favourite films on TV?

Elf

Will Ferrell’s Elf is the first Christmas classic confirmed in the schedules – it will air on ITV on Sunday, December 16th at 6pm.

The surprisingly festive 1984 classic Gremlins will also air on ITV - Christmas Eve, 9.30pm.

We'll keep you updated on when the other Christmas classics are airing over the holidays as the listings are confirmed.

And if you want these films to buy and own, so you can watch them whenever you want, they’re all available to buy or rent now in the BT TV Store.

Meanwhile, the BBC has released a trailer for the films they're airing ove the holidays, which includes The Good Dinosaur, Ant-Man, Inside Out, Absolutely Fabulous, Trolls, Kung Fu Panda 3 and Mary Poppins.

ITV's film highlights include Monsters Inc (Christmas Day, 4.10pm), Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (December 30, 8pm) and a quadruple hit of Bond with all four of Daniel Craig's 007 films - Casino Royale (December 23, 9pm), Quantum of Solace (December 26, 8pm), Skyfall (December 27, 8pm) and Spectre (December 31, 8pm).

Something a little different

Inside the Ambulance

It doesn't have to be all ding dong merrily on high and tinsel-tastic celebrations this Christmas. There is plenty to watch that will transport you away from the clichés of snow and Santa.

W channel (BT TV 311) has Christmas specials of Inside the Ambulance, offering an inspirational look at the work of the West Midlands Ambulance Service, including Christmas Day call-outs.

Airing weekdays from Monday, December 10th, the series will capture the heart-stopping and heartwarming work done by the ambulance service at the busiest and most challenging time of the year.

BBC Four will be the home for alternative festive viewing as Mark Gatiss brings back the Christmas ghost story in The Dead Room, a 30-minute chiller starring Simon Callow.

On the same channel, Bros: After the Screaming Stops will look back at the meteoric rise and fall of the 1980s boyband. Featuring powerful and raw footage of Matt and Luke Goss, the doc will look back at their stadium tours and number one album Push all the way through to the O2 London reunion gigs 28 years on.

The Inbetweeners

Channel 4 will have the biggest party of the season with The Inbetweeners 10th anniversary celebrations, looking back at a decade of crude and embarrassing teenage comedy from Will, Simon, Jay and Neil.

Featuring exclusive behind the scenes footage and the original cast reunited in the studio, make sure you don’t miss a night with 'fweeeinds'.

Striking a different tone is George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces Snow Special, where the presenter is taking us to incredible homes in the Swss and Italian Alps that will take your breath away. From breath-taking mountaintop hotels to secret ski lodges – you won’t want to miss this.

Photo Credits: BBC, Channel 4, Magic Light, ITV, Rex Features, Shutterstock, UKTV.

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