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Christmas crackers: this year’s best festive TV with something for everyone

Posted at 7:00 pm, December 18, 2013 in Arts & Entertainment


Time In_shutterstock_349532

Seasonal standards

2013: Moments in Time
A review of the year with a difference, looking back over a year of unforgettable photography, from celebrity selfies to Typhoon Haiyan.
BBC2. Fri Dec 20, 9-10pm.

Timeshift: the Ladybird Books Story
A sumptuous slice of nostalgia, on the children’s book series that gave us the first and last word on Lord Nelson, car maintenance and nuclear family icons Peter and Jane.
BBC4. Sun Dec 22, 9-10pm.

Doctor Who
The excellent Matt Smith takes his leave by saving another planet in jeopardy. What price Peter Capaldi’s first word being a four-letter one?
BBC1. Christmas Day, 7.30-8.30pm.

Doctor Who © BBC/Adrian Rogers

Call the Midwife
Unexploded bombs, polio and ugly babies? That’s Christmas in 1950s Poplar, as laced with sentimentality and silliness as ever.
BBC1. Christmas Day, 6.15-7.30.

Downton Abbey
Swap death and rape for guest star Paul Giamatti and transatlantic culture clash and you have a ‘Downton’ special that comes guaranteed not to cause indigestion.
ITV. Christmas Day, 8.30-10.30pm.

Classics reimagined

The Fir Tree
The Danish BBC4 love-in continues with this affecting Hans Christian Andersen tale told by the tree itself.
BBC4.Sun Dec 22, 8.30-10.30pm.

The Tractate Middoth
Mark Gatiss revives the MR James ghost story with a chilling yarn of sinster goings-on in a library.
BBC2. Christmas Day, 9.30-10.05pm.

The Tractate Middoth © BBC/Can Do Productions

Death Comes to Pemberley
The BBC does PD James doing Jane Austen. Smartly filleted, well appointed and cannily cast, with Anna Maxwell Martin and Matthew Rhys as Lizzie and Darcy.
BBC1. Starts Boxing Day, 8.15-9.20pm.

Death Comes to Pemberley© BBC/Origin Pictures

Ray Winstone and Aneurin Barnard growl and quail through this period romp of piratical booty smuggling.
Sky1. Starts Sat Dec 28, 8-9pm.

Time In_FRI27DECMoonfleet © Company Pictures

The Thirteenth Tale
Diane Setterfield’s gothic novel is gifted Olivia Colman and Vanessa Redgrave as troubled biographer and haunted quarry. It doesn’t disappoint.
BBC2. Mon Dec 30, 9.30-11pm.

Christmas comedy

Him & Her: The Wedding
This superb sitcom comes to a recrimination-fuelled halt. But is there a happy ending for Becky and Steve?
BBC3. Thu Dec 19, 10-10.30pm.

Raised By Wolves
Caitlin Moran’s been making wry comedy out of her childhood for years; here she turns it into a ‘Shameless’- inspired sitcom with uproarious results.
C4. Mon Dec 23, 10.50- 11.25pm.

Raised by Wolves

The IT Crowd Manual
An amiable documentary which finds a simple formula at the heart of this modern classic: put characters in sealed environment; add warmth.
C4. Christmas Eve, 10-11.05pm.

Gangsta Granny
The splendidly named Reece Buttery stars in David Walliams’s raucous, big-hearted tale of a dull old dear (Julia McKenzie) with a secret.
BBC1. Boxing Day, 6.05-7.15pm.

Still Open All Hours
Can this classic cornershop sitcom survive without Ronnie Barker? David Jason hopes so, as Granville slips on his uncle’s brown coat.
BBC1. Boxing Day, 7.45-8.15pm

Alternative Christmas

The Great Train Robbery
Enjoy Phil Collins in ‘Buster’? Then this stylish, pacy, well-cast cops-androbbers tale pitting Jim Broadbent vs Luke Evans probably isn’t for you.
BBC1. Starts Wed Dec 18, 8pm-9.30pm.

Racism is alive and thriving in modern Australia, reckons veteran journalist John Pilger in this typically strident and shocking investigation.
ITV. Thu Dec 19, 10.35pm-12.35am.

Never Mind the Baubles
It being panto season, here’s Johnny Rotten and co playing for striking firefighters and their kids on Christmas Day, 1977. Transgressive in the best possible way.
BBC4. Boxing Day, 10-11pm.

Queer as Pop
From Little Richard to Frank Ocean in one hour: this entertaining doc is hectic, combative, insightful and camp as you know what.
C4. Fri Dec 27, 10.55-11.55pm.

I'm Coming out: Gay Icons of Pop

Doggy Styling
‘Picasso used a blank piece of paper. I use a white dog.’ Canine primping at its most compelling and extreme – and that’s saying something.
C4. Mon Dec 30, 9-10pm.

Sandy Hartness? 2004 design, ?Snail? © Pro Co

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