Christmas can be a stressful time of year. Buying the presents, getting the dinner ready on time and avoiding a family row over Brexit can be tricky.
However, one part of the festive season that should be stress-free is the telly.
The TV listings are already getting packed. Snuggle down with a thrilling drama. Raise a glass of eggnog to some merry comedies. Or keep the whole family happy with a classic movie.
How can you possibly squeeze it all in? We’re here to help. Keep reading for our up to date guide to the very best Christmas crackers and TV listings in 2019.
A Christmas Carol – BBC One
The first in a series of new Dickens adaptations on the BBC, this new take in the iconic ghost story has been written by Peaky Blinders and Taboo creator Steven Knight.
A haunting, hallucinatory, spine-tingling immersion into Scrooge’s dark night of the soul, this three-episode series has a star-studded cast including Guy Pearce as Ebenezer Scrooge, Joe Alwyn (The Favourite) as Bob Cratchit, Andy Serkis and Jason Flemyng as the ghosts of Christmas past and future, and Stephen Graham as Jacob Marley,
The Trial of Christine Keeler – BBC One
Fans of The Crown should make a date with this highly-anticipated series about the scandalous Profumo Affair in 1963.
Sex, politics, and the swinging sixties, this drama will go behind the headlines to tell the human story beneath the very public scandal. Sophie Cookson, James Norton, Emilia Fox and Ben Miles are all in the impressive cast.
Call the Midwife – BBC One – Christmas Day
It wouldn’t be Christmas without a visit from the ladies of Nonnatus House and this year the festive special sees the gang heading to the Outer Hebrides.
Writer Heidi Thomas has promised another “magical Christmas experience” with “wild seas, stormy skies and some very disobedient sheep”. Plus, Miriam Margolyes will be back again as Mother Mildred.
New Agatha Christie – BBC One
The BBC hasn’t revealed which Agatha Christie title will air this Christmas, but two new projects are currently in the pipeline.
The Pale Horse, starring Rufus Sewell and Kaya Scodelario, has finished filming. It is the latest Christie adapated by Sarah Phelps, who brought us The ABC Murders and Ordeal by Innocence in recent years.
However, the BBC is also working on another adaptation with Gwyneth Hughes – Death Comes as the End – which could also slot into the Christmas schedules.
Traces – Alibi, BT TV channel 312
Described as Happy Valley meets Silent Witness, Martin Compston, Molly Windsor and Laura Fraser lead the cast of this forensic science drama, set in Dundee.
Traces follows three female forensic professionals - Emma Hedges, Sarah Gordon and Kathy Torrance - as they uncover the truth of a murder case and bring a killer to justice.
Gavin and Stacey Christmas Special – BBC One - Christmas Day
GAV-A-LAH! SMITHY! OOH – NESSA! Yes, it really is back. The much-loved and much-missed sitcom is returning for a one-off Christmas special.
It’s been nine years since we last caught up with the Shipmans and Wests – how will things have changed over the last decade?
Will Gavin and Stacey be struggling with parenthood? Are Smithy and Nessa still a couple? And will Uncle Bryn have discovered Tik Tok and Snapchat yet? We can’t wait to find out.
Dial M for Middlesbrough – Gold, BT TV channel 310
Gold’s murder mystery spoofs are quickly become a merry Christmas tradition. Bringing together an all-star comedy cast alongside Draper Tours regulars Johnny Vegas and Sian Gibson, the latest outing seems them head to a creepy caravan park in the North-East.
Sally Lindsay, Joanna Page, Annette Crosbie, Phil Davis and, best of all, Jason Donovan, are all involved in the jolly romp.
Mrs Brown’s Boys – BBC One – Christmas Day
Mammy might divide public opinion, but the Mrs Brown’s Boys Christmas special is a guaranteed ratings hit for the BBC every year.
Brendan O’Carroll’s family sitcom will deliver its usual mix of bawdy gags and raucous farce – and with no sign of a full new series coming soon, the Christmas specials are a rare chance for fans to watch all-new episodes.
World Cup of Decade – Channel 4
Richard Osman has revealed on Twitter that he’s preparing a series of his famous ‘World Cup’ battles for Channel 4 to celebrate the very best music, TV shows and ‘new things’ of the last decade.
Will your favourites make the final countdown?
Best of the Rest
You can expect festive editions of all your favourite sitcoms and panel shows on the BBC across December, including QI, Still Open All Hours, Lee Mack’s Not Going Out and Would I Lie To You?
Worzel Gummidge – BBC One
Barbara Euphan Todd’s classic scarecrow stories are being brought back to TV this Christmas with Mackenzie Crook (The Office, The Detercorists) playing the straw-stuffed lead.
Previously turned into a TV series with Jon Petwee and Una Stubbs, the new series will hopefully capture the magic of the original.
Michael Palin, Zoe Wanamaker, Vicki Pepperdine and Steve Pemberton join Crook in the farmland adventures.
The Snail and the Whale – BBC One – Christmas Day
Parents across the nation, rejoice. Julia Donaldson’s latest animated short film is here to save Christmas and keep the country’s children happy for at least 30 minutes on Christmas Day.
Following the phenomenal success of adaptations including Zog, The Gruffalo, Room on the Broom and Stick Man, Rob Brydon leads the voice cast for a latest heart-warming adventure that proves size doesn’t matter when it comes to being a hero.
It's Not The Robbie Williams Christmas Show - ITV
Ahead of the festive season, one of the most decorated music stars in the world, Robbie Williams, will be taking to the stage for a brand new ITV entertainment special.
Filmed this month at the newly restored Alexandra Palace Theatre, the audience and viewers will be treated to a dazzling night of music and entertainment as Robbie will perform a selection of his huge hits, plus some Christmas classics and originals. He'll also be joined by a glittering array of celebrity guests for this very special and intimate one-off show.
Robbie said: "I'm so excited to be working with ITV on this very special programme. I'll be bringing new songs from my Christmas album 'The Christmas Present' as well as the classic hits, to this beautiful and iconic venue."
The Tiger Who Came To Tea - Channel 4
Following in a great tradition of animated Christmas specials on Channel 4 - The Snowman and the Snowdog, We're Going On A Bear Hunt - comes the highly-anticpated adaptation of Judith Kerr's classic children's story.
The story of the tea-guzzling tiger, who turns up unannounced and eats and drinks Sophie and mummy out of house, home and bathwater before disappearing into the night, has been delighting generations of children and parents in the much-loved picture book.
Benedict Cumberbatch, David Oyelowo, David Walliams, Paul Whitehouse and Tamsin Greig are all lending their voices to the festive special, playing Daddy, Tiger, Narrator, Milkman and Mummy respectively.
Robbie Williams sings the original track Hey Tiger! and 7-year-old newcomer Clara Ross will be the voice of Sophie.
Ball & Boe: A Very Merry Christmas
Michael Ball and Alfie Boe, have joined forces once again for a one-off TV special
Taking to the stage, the iconic duo will exhibit both their unique blend of extraordinary talent and infectious humour, as they perform exciting new material alongside some Christmas favourites. Joining Michael and Alfie in this ITV entertainment special will be an array of talented celebrity guests.
"It feels like Christmas has come early! Back together for our third TV special, this time celebrating the season of good will with some amazing guests and the best music. All with a sprinkling of tinsel and fairy dust. It’s the recipe for a perfect pre-Christmas snuggle...and that’s just me and Alfie!" said Michael Ball.
Take Off with Bradley and Holly – BBC One
Bradley Walsh and Holly Willoughby will be sprinkling some festive magic this Christmas in this new family entertainment show that offers the studio audience a chance to win the trip of a lifetime to Lapland.
It’s the usual mixture of studio fun and games with Christmas twist. It might be a bit cheesy, but Bradley Walsh will hopefully bring enough cheekiness to stop it from turning into a 2019 version of Noel’s Christmas Presents.
Blockbusters Christmas Special - Comedy Central, BT TV channel 307/370 HD on December 5th
Scarlett Moffatt, Jordan Banjo and James Acaster are set to star in this year's Blockbusters Christmas Special - a perfect slice of retro festive fun.
Everyone's favourite 80s quiz gameshow still has all the classic rounds and the iconic Gold Run - and if you can't be nostalgic at Christmas, when can you be?
Kylie's Secret Night - Channel 4
Fresh from her Glastonbury legends slot triumph and a raft of sold our tour dates throughout the world, the quintessential pop princess Kylie Minogue will cap off a Golden 2019 as the subject of a very special secret night.
A must see spectacular, Kylie’s Secret Night, will allow viewers to celebrate with Kylie like never before. The 90-minute programme, filmed in front of an audience of passionate – and unsuspecting – fans will see a specially invited audience arrive for what they believe is a Kylie themed fan extravaganza hosted by Alan Carr. Little do they know they’re going to be spending a secret evening with the lady herself.
An alternative Christmas
Ski A+E – W, BT TV channel 311
W channel have found a brilliant niche in delivering hard-hitting documentary series packed full of heart and drama.
Following the success of series such as Inside the Ambulance and Emma Willis Delivering Babies comes Ski A&E, which has been following the teams working in the French Alps, battling snowstorms and avalanches to save lives.
Covering every aspect of life in a ski resort, the specialised film crews get you closer to the action in Val Thorens than ever before.
Top Gear Christmas Special - BBC Two
Freddie Flintoff, Paddy McGuinness and Chris Harris breathed fresh life into Top Gear in 2019 and the BBC have rewarded them with a Christmas special before the end of the year.
How festive the episode will be remains to be seen as all they’ve revealed so far is that it will be a “epic and gruelling” adventure for the lads.
Don't Tell The Bride at Christmas - E4
In this Christmas special, laid back Liam is planning to wow his bride with a wintry white wedding, but nearly 2000 miles away in Portugal, bride-to-be Georgia is dreaming of sun, sand and sangrias for her big day. Will Liam get everyone in the Christmas spirit or will feisty Georgia put him on the top of the naughty list?
Best of 2019 in the BT TV Store
Nothing solves a family argument over the remote at Christmas like a fantastic film and we’ll have a collection of 2019’s biggest and best films to buy and rent in the BT TV Store.
From Avengers: Endgame and Toy Story 4 to Captain Marvel and Hobbs & Shaw, we’ll have something for everyone this Christmas.
The holiday season on Amazon Prime Video
The festive highlight on Prime Video lands the day after Thanksgiving. Narrated by Dan Levy (Schitt’s Creek), The Kacey Musgraves Christmas Show invites fans in as Musgraves prepares for a most joyful Christmas gathering with a whimsical set and dazzling wardrobe influenced by the artist’s fresh aesthetic. Equal parts heart-warming and cleverly absurd, Musgraves pays tribute to holiday specials of the past whilst also reinventing just what a Christmas special can be, with a magically modern twist.
Musgraves is joined by an all-star cast of friends for performances of both classic and original holiday songs in this festive variety special, including Fred Armisen on Silent Night, Leon Bridges on Present Without A Bow, Camila Cabello on Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree, James Corden on Let It Snow, Zooey Deschanel on Mele Kalikimaka, Lana Del Rey on I’ll Be Home For Christmas, and Troye Sivan on the world-debut of Glittery.
"I can say without a doubt that this project is unlike anything I've ever done before," said Musgraves. "What started as the small seed of an idea one night over a year ago has turned into something I'm so proud of. Some truly brilliant comedic and musical guests are featured in the show - as well as my own Grandma. My vision was to bring my old Christmas album to life visually and create a modern and fashionable, fresh take on a classic format. It’s a nostalgic, Wes Anderson-inspired reimagining of the holidays. It’s heartfelt, funny, and most of all, real. I can’t wait to finally share."
Prime Video will also be stuffed with treats for all the family, available to stream for members over the festive season. Kids will love The Gruffalo, Room on the Broom, Stick Man, Paddington and Nativity, while parents can enjoy Love Actually, The Holiday and New Year's Eve.
And if you need a new binge-watch over the holidays? The Marvelous Mrs Maisel season 3 drops just in time for a cosy couple of days on the sofa.
Netflix and chilly
Netflix go all in when it comes to Christmas and they’ll have a whole stack of new festive films and series for you to binge through from early November.
This year’s seasonal selection box includes the latest Christmas Prince sequel, The Royal Baby, Dennis Quaid’s holiday season sitcom Merry Happy Whatever and Vanessa Hudgens and Josh Whitehouse’s rom-com The Knight Before Christmas.
However, the one to look out for is the highly anticipated film Klaus, about a young postman and a reclusive toymaker. It looks like it will a joyous winter gem.
With BT TV, you can watch BT Sport, BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, UKTV Play, Amazon Prime Video and Netflix, and buy or rent box sets from the BT TV Store.