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.
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
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.
Hit the YouView button on your remote and go to Players and Apps, where you can catch up with iPlayer, ITV Hub and All 4. You can also stream exclusive originals on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video - subscriptions required.
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 >
BT TV Christmas favourites
Christmas comedy classics.
BT TV channel 310.
Only Fools and Horses and Gavin & Stacey.
Blackadder and Mrs Brown's Boys.
The Royle Family, My Family and more.
Festive food every day.
BT TV channel 313.
Nigella and the Bake Off.
Jimmy and Jamie.
Victoria Wood's Nice Cup of Tea.
Tips and hint and delicous recipes.
Christmas films back to back.
BT TV Channel 513.
The original channel dedicated to Christmas movies.
Tatyana Ali stars in Chrisrmas Everlasting.
Airs Boxing Day at 9pm.
Have A Walter White Christmas.
BT TV Channel 332.
Starts on Christmas Eve.
Every Breaking Bad episode back-to-back.
Concludes on New Year's Eve.
Gripping must-see dramas
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.
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.
The (Walter) White Christmas extravaganza is the perfect present for TV fanatics while they wait for the turkey to finish roasting. Ho, ho, Heisenberg.
Over on ITV, they're warming up for the return of Dancing on Ice in the New Year with a biopic for legendary Olympic skating duo Torvill and Dean.
Starring Will Tudor (Game Of Thrones, Humans) and Poppy Lee Friar (Ackley Bridge, In The Club) as the iconic leads, ITV's one-off feature-length film explores Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean’s early years and the creative impetus that finally drove them to become ice dancing royalty.
Written by acclaimed film, television and theatre writer, William Ivory (Made in Dagenham, Burton and Taylor), the inspirational drama also stars acting royalty, Anita Dobson (The Rebel, Call the Midwife) as Miss Perry, Jayne’s first coach at the Nottingham Ice Stadium, whilst Stephen Tompkinson (The Split, DCI Banks) plays Jayne’s father George and Jo Hartley (Bliss, This Is England ’90) plays her mum Betty.
Speaking about the drama series, Poppy Lee Friar said: "It is a very emotional script. The story charts the lives of Torvill and Dean from when they are young.
"They meet for the first time as teenagers and there’s a lot of passion and love involved. They develop such a strong bond with each other.
"A lot of the dialogue between them is very intense. Their arguments and disagreements about the craft and how to approach it. It is moving. The drama takes viewers right up until their Olympic performance at Sarajevo where they work to achieve their moment of glory. It is a truly remarkable story."
The one-off drama airs on Christmas Day at 9.15pm on ITV.
Big belly laugh comedy
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.
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).
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.
Fun for all the family
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.
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.
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.
With a hop, skip and a jump a new adaptation of the classic #WatershipDown comes to BBC One this Christmas starring James McAvoy, Olivia Colman, @JohnBoyega, Ben Kingsley, @NicholasHoult, Gemma Arterton and Daniel Kaluuya. pic.twitter.com/A1Wwnw6vDd— BBC One (@BBCOne) November 30, 2018
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?
ITV will be bringing the whole family together for the 2018 Royal Variety Performance on December 11th, hosted this year by Taskmaster star Greg Davies. Joining him at the comedy, music and entertainment extravaganza are Take That, the stars of Hamilton, George Ezra, Clean Bandit, Lost Voice Guy and Rhod Gilbert.
Joanna Lumley is hosting ITV's one-hour tribute to The Black Eyed Peas on December 22nd - a look back at the lives, influences and impact of the pop group on the music industry,
Also on ITV, Alexander Armstrong presents Best Christmas Ever on December 16th, a show which attempts to find out what really is definitively the best Christmas food, song and movie.
A Classic Christmas
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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?
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.
Tag your friends and family, spread the word, these are this Christmas films on BBC One this festive period 🎄 pic.twitter.com/j8pnmMZ8k2— BBC One (@BBCOne) December 2, 2018
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).
Family favourites on over the holidays:
The Wizard of Oz - ITV3, 1pm
The Muppets - BBC Two, 10am
Up - BBC One, 3.25pm
Mary Poppins - BBC One, 5pm
Zootropolis - BBC One, 2.55pm
The Lego Movie - ITV2, 7.05pm
Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit - BBC One, 11am
Mr Popper's Penguins - E4, 1.05pm.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - Channel 5, 3.10pm
The Muppet Christmas Carol - Channel 4, 4pm
The Good Dinosaur- BBC One, 1.30pm
Trolls - BBC One, 3.50pm
The BFG - BBC One, 5.40pm
Something a little different
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.
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'.
The special reunion will air on Channel 4 on New Year's Day.
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.
BT TV Box Sets
We've always got brand new box sets for you to devour on the BT Player and in December, we've got a feast of treats.
From Syfy's thrilling mermaid drama Siren to AMC's chilling documentary series, Eli Roth's History of Horror, you won't be short of choice.
We've also got the first two seasons of AMC's gangster drama Snatch, starring Rupert Grint and Luke Pasqualino, and gripping documentary The Jail: 60 Days In.
Photo Credits: BBC, Channel 4, Magic Light, ITV, Rex Features, Shutterstock, UKTV.