Sky has stuffed its streaming stockings full of festive treats this December, and not just with its usual blend of seasonal specials and superhero crossovers. They’re all present and correct, but so is Season 5 of Elementary, new drama Quarry, several innovative animal documentaries, Billy Elliott: The Musical, and – on Christmas Day – its family fantasy epic, The Last Dragonslayer. For non-Sky customers, that’s all available for £6.99 a month to NOW TV Entertainment Pass subscribers.
Sky Cinema subscribers (£9.99 a month on NOW TV), meanwhile, can expect a veritable feast of some of the year’s biggest and best, from Kung Fu Panda 3 and The Jungle Book to Zootropolis and Captain America: Civil War. It’s not just family-friendly flicks, though, as adults can look forward to the hilarious Hail, Caesar!, the enjoyably rude Deadpool, the moving Like Father, Like Son and the sensational Midnight Special.
Here’s what’s coming soon to Sky and NOW TV in December 2016:
The Animal Symphony (Sky Arts, 9pm) – 6th December
In partnership with Arts Council England, Sky Arts presents a remarkable and engaging exploration into the effect music has on animals. Hosted by naturalist Chris Packham, the programme follows award-winning musician Nitin Sawhney as he composes a unique symphony to be performed by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra to an audience of humans and animals alike.
Supergirl/The Flash/Arrow/DC’s Legends of Tomorrow Crossover (Sky 1, 8pm) – 12th December
An early Christmas present for comic book fans, this four-way crossover event sees The CW’s DC shows Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow all collide, as heroes from each unite to fight a deadly adversary known as The Dominators. (From Monday 12th to Thursday 15th December, respectively.)
Elementary: Season 5 (Sky Living, 9pm) – 13th December
Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu return to Sky Living as Holmes and Watson in season five of the thoroughly modern take on Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic detective. The series will be celebrating its 100th episode this season, and stars Lucy Liu and Aidan Quinn are both set to step into the director’s chair during the run. One of Holmes’ most seductive and dangerous opponents may well make a return.
Frank Sinatra: The Voice of America (Sky Arts, 8pm) – 17th December
This illuminating documentary goes behind the scenes and unearths the fascinating story of Frank Sinatra’s voice, revealing what he was really like as a person and the key moments that set him on the path to success.
Bowie, Prince & Music Legends We Lost in 2016 (Sky Arts, 10pm) – 17th December
This special programme shines a light on the remarkable artistry of the music superstars we have lost over the past 12 months.
André Rieu (Sky Arts, 8pm) – 19th December
Sky Arts welcomes a season of new performances from Dutch violin sensation André Rieu. He founded the Johann Strauss Orchestra in 1987 with just 12 people but now performs with more than 50 and has gone on to revitalise the classical genre by combining timeless waltz music with upbeat contemporary classics.
Trollied Christmas Special (Sky 1, 9pm) – 19th December
Join the Valco gang on Christmas Eve in this festive-flavoured finale to Season 6. With their relationship back on track, Gavin has an important proposal for Cheryl. But when a bid to throw her off the scent spectacularly backfires, Gavin is left desperate to make amends. Meanwhile, Brian returns to the store and is clearly unimpressed with humble new pharmacist Alan. Elsewhere, Colin and Lisa witness something horrifying and with romance in the air at the Valco Christmas party, the spark between Katie and Daniel becomes clearer than ever.
Billy Elliot: The Musical (Sky Arts, 9pm) – 20th December
Sky Arts brings one of the hottest tickets in town to viewers’ homes as it presents the multi-award-winning musical Billy Elliot. Based on the Academy Award-nominated film, the musical follows a young boy’s struggle against the odds to make his dancing dream come true.
Quarry: Season 1 (Sky Atlantic, 9pm) – 21st December
Logan Marshall-Green stars as Mac ‘Quarry’ Conway (Logan Marshall-Green), a Marine who returns home to Memphis from Vietnam in 1972 and finds himself shunned by those he loves and demonised by the public. As he struggles to cope with his experiences at war, Quarry is drawn into an underworld of killing and corruption when he reluctantly accepts work as a hit man for a mysterious boss called the Broker (Peter Mullan). The whole box set is available on-demand at the same time as the first episode on Wednesday 21st December.
Yonderland Christmas Special (Sky 1, 6pm) – Christmas Eve
‘Tis the season to be jolly in the fantastical world of Yonderland.
Stella Christmas Special (Sky 1, 9pm) – Christmas Eve
Ruth Jones gets in the festive spirit in Stella.
A League of Their Own (Sky 1, 10pm) – Christmas Day
James Corden, Jack Whitehall, Freddie Flintoff and Jamie Redknapp serve up some Yuletide hi-jinks in Sky 1’s comedy sports quiz.
The Last Dragonslayer: Season 1 (Sky 1, 6pm) – Christmas Day
Sky’s festive extravaganza this year is an epic adventure, based on the first of Jasper Fforde’s series of novels. It follows the exploits of orphan Jennifer Strange (Ellise Chappell), who discovers her destiny is to become the last dragonslayer. A magical blend of past and present, modern and medieval, it co-stars John Bradley (Game of Thrones) and Ricky Tomlinson (The Royle Family).
Monkeys: An Amazing Animal Family (Sky 1, 8pm) – Boxing Day
In this new three-part series, biologist Patrick Aryee takes viewers on a journey through time, to retrace the primate family’s astonishing rise to power through the twists and turns of its family tree.
Modern Family: Season 8 (Sky 1, 8.30pm) – 30th December
The Golden Globe and Emmy award-winning comedy returns for Season 8, as Mitch, Cam and Lily return from their summer stay in Kansas City, and Claire and Jay enter into a power struggle in the office. Meanwhile, Phil enjoys more of his often-bizarre hobbies and Gloria’s hot sauce business starts to take off.
Delicious: Season 1 (Sky 1, 9pm) – 30th December
Set in the Cornish countryside, this four-part series from Dan Sefton (Mr Selfridge) stars Dawn French as passionate cook Gina, who is forced to evaluate her closest relationships when her ex-husband’s secrets begin to unravel. Co-starring Emilia Fox (The Tunnel: Sabotage), Iain Glen (Game of Thrones) and Sheila Hancock (The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas).
Amy Schumer (Sky Box Sets) – 1st December
Uncompromising comedian Amy Schumer takes centre stage on Sky Box Sets and NOW TV with Season 1 to 4 of her Emmy award-winning sketch show Inside Amy Schumer and her first HBO stand-up special Amy Schumer: Live at the Apollo, which was directed by Chris Rock.
Olive Kitteridge (Sky Box Sets) – 8th December
Oscar winner Frances McDormand stars as the titular character in this critically acclaimed HBO mini-series. Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Elizabeth Strout, it tells the story of a seemingly placid New England town wrought with illicit affairs, crime and tragedy.
Band of Brothers / The Pacific (Sky Box Sets) – 12th December
Sky Box Sets presents Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg’s award-winning war dramas Band of Brothers and The Pacific. Starring Damian Lewis (Billions), James McAvoy (X-Men: Apocalypse) and Simon Pegg (Star Trek Beyond), Band of Brothers traces the fate of Easy Company across Europe during World War II. In a similar vein, The Pacific follows three marines as they are thrown into the chaos of the Pacific War during the same conflict.
Vinyl: Season 1 (Sky Box Sets) – 19th December
Every episode of the Emmy-nominated drama created by Mick Jagger, Martin Scorsese, Rich Cohen and Terence Winter arrives on Sky Box Sets. Set in 1970s New York, Vinyl takes viewers on a ride through the sex and drug-addled music business at the dawn of punk, disco and hip-hop, as seen through the eyes of record label president Richie Finestra (Bobby Cannavale).
Confirmation (Sky Box Sets) – 28th December
Starring Kerry Washington (Scandal), Wendell Pierce (Ray Donovan) and Greg Kinnear (As Good As It Gets), this taut political thriller takes a look behind the curtain of Washington politics, depicting the real-life controversy that unfolded in 1991 when lawyer Anita Hill alleged she was sexually harassed by her boss, the Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas.
God’s Pocket – 6th December
One of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s final performances helps to elevate John Slattery’s directorial drama, a drama about the closed community of God’s Pocket, where murder, secrets and family tensions all bubble under the surface.
Midnight Special – 9th December
Jeff Nichols confirms himself as one of the most exciting, recognisable US indie directors around with this quietly dazzling sci-fi, which sees the government and a mysterious cult pursue a young boy with special powers and his kidnappers across the country. Steeped in Spielbergian sentiment and sincerity, it’s a film that channels the nostalgic wonder of the 80s into an engrossing study of fatherhood and faith. If you liked Stranger Things, try this.
Hail, Caesar! – 11th December
The Coen bros kick back and relax with this Hollywood-based comedy about a fixer in period LA (Josh Brolin), who finds himself having to deal with kidnappings, reshoots and idiotic actors. The result isn’t one of the directors’ best, but it’s charmingly hilarious, with a scene-stealing turn from Channing Tatum.
Like Father, Like Son – 14th December
Hirokazu Koreeda’s drama about two children swapping their adoptive families for their biological ones is a tender exploration of nature vs nurture. A subtle, moving masterpiece.
Zoolander 2 – 16th December
Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson reunite for more being really, really, ridiculously good-looking.
The Lesson – 19th December
Fin and Joel are two teenage wasters running wild. But they get a taste of their own medicine when a teacher at the end of his tether decides to teach both schoolboys a lesson they will never forget.
Ma Ma – 21st December
Penelope Cruz delivers an award-worthy performance in this drama about a woman, diagnosed with breast cancer, who forms a bond with a man (Luis Tosar) who lost his wife and daughter in a car accident.
Zootropolis – 24th December
Disney’s comedy takes place in a world where talking animals have put aside their natural differences in the circle of life to coexist peacefully. A positive political message in a family animation? It’s done so wittily, subtly and amusingly that this is one of the best animations of the year.
The Jungle Book – Christmas Day
A live-action remake sounds like a terrible idea, until you actually see what Jon Favreau has made: a thrilling, adorable flick that combines old songs with a renewed sense of peril. Ideal Christmas family viewing.
Deadpool – Boxing Day
Nothing says Boxing Day like a self-aware superhero swearing, having sex and popping pop-culture references directly to camera.
Kung Fu Panda 3 – 27th December
Jack Black’s punching-kicking panda, Po, comes full circle in this enlightened and enlightening sequel.
Long Way North – 28th December
A young Russian girl goes to find her grandfather at the North Pole in this debut from director Rémi Chayé, one of the animators on the stunning The Secret of Kells.
Captain America: Civil War – 30th December
Almost all of the superheroes in the MCU so far, plus some new faces, collide in this epic sequel – and, to Marvel’s credit, the result never fails to entertain, as Captain America and Bucky find their loyalty driving apart The Avengers. The laugh-out-loud Ant-Man and Spider-Man steal the show.
Other new films arriving on Sky Cinema and NOW TV in December 2016:
Arthur & Merlin
Secret in Their Eyes
Journey to the Shore
The Great Gilly Hopkins
Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip
The Young Messiah
Rock the Kasbah
How to Be Single