Christmas is here – and so is the age-old battle for the remote control in the living room. Except that these days, Britain has put the strictly scheduled past behind them. Now, we use catch-up services to keep up-to-date with what’s on the telly.
7 in 10 adults use free catch-up services to watch Christmas TV on-demand, says Ofcom, which means that more people can fit their festive TV viewing around opening presents and carving the turkey. Or, you know, just watching Love Actually on Netflix on repeat.
One thing is for sure: with BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, My5 and All 4, it’s never been easier to stream something you missed the following day for free. For those wanting to watch Sky without a contract, meanwhile, a NOW TV Sky Cinema Month Pass allows you see Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Beauty and the Beast and The LEGO Batman Movie for £9.99 a month and a NOW TV Entertainment Pass lets you catch up with Game of Thrones or watch David Walliams adaptation Ratburger for £7.99 a month. And with our lists of what Christmas movies are on Netflix UK and Amazon Prime Video, you won’t even miss Elf from the Christmas telly schedule.
So, before you work out when to sit down with your family this holiday – and when to hide in the bathroom and get out your iPad – read on for our highlights of the 2017 UK Christmas TV line-up – updated with links to each programme on VOD and how long you have left to watch it.
(For more on what’s coming soon to Netflix UK in December, including Black Mirror on 29th December, click here – or for more on what’s coming soon to Amazon Prime Video, click here.)
Maigret in Montmartre
Maigret investigates the random murders of a Countess and a Showgirl and discovers a dark secret that links their past lives at the Grand Hotel in Nice. Read our full review
Mary Berry, Mel & Sue are back together and joining forces to surprise a community centre in the Rhondda Valley in Wales, with a very special Christmas party and a whole bunch of fabulous surprises. Read our full review
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets ITV 12.55pm
Doctor Who: Twice Upon a Time
Peter Capaldi regenerating into Jodie Whittaker is the big highlight of this year’s Christmas special – or it would be, if it weren’t for the fact that we also get the thrill of seeing David Bradley playing William Hartnell’s Doctor in a snowbound existential crisis first. Two new Doctor-shaped treats in one? Twice Upon a Time, indeed. Watch the latest trailer here – or read our spoiler-free review.
Dragged up all the way from the ocean bed, national treasures Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders are back together this festive season with a special 30th anniversary clip show that’s bursting with brand new material, greatest hits, hilarious rarities, and even some never-before-seen footage. Read our full review
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban ITV 3.10pm
Dumbo Channel 4 4.30pm
Skyfall ITV 2 7.45pm
1686. 18 year old Nella Oortman knocks at the door of a grand house in the wealthiest quarter of Amsterdam. Full of hopes and dreams, she has come from the country to begin a new life as the wife of wealthy merchant, Johannes Brandt. But instead of Johannes she’s met by his cold sister Marin – and quickly realises that nothing is as it seems in the Brandt household. Anya Taylor Joy and Romola Garai star in this two-part adaptation of the hit novel.
Christmas, 1861. The March sisters – Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy – prepare for a Christmas without presents or their father, a Union army chaplain who is away at war. The first in a three-part adaptation of the literary classic, broadcast over consecutive nights.
If you’ve never seen Richard Ayoade’s hilarious travel programme, this is the perfect chance, with The Crystal Maze host teaming up with Mad Men’s Jon Hamm for a two-day stint in Hong Kong. Read our full review
Sandi Toksvig takes a break from the Bake Off tent for this Christmassy one-off of the knowledge show, with guests Jason Manford, Romesh Ranganathan, Holly Walsh and Alan Davies getting in the festive spirit.
It has been a quarter of a century since a little-known sports reporter was given his own radio chat show by the BBC. Two radio series, five TV series, four specials, two books and one movie later, Alan Partridge has an unrivalled place in the comedy pantheon.
To celebrate Alan’s return to his rightful home at the BBC in 2018, this retrospective documentary will look back at his journey from broadcaster caricature to the award-winning study of complexity and pathos that he has become. Read our full review
A year has passed and there are new additions to the March family – but there is worry all around as Beth’s health and spirits flag. The concluding part to the BBC’s lavish adaptation of the literary classic.
The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists! BBC One 9am
Kung Fu Panda BBC One 10.20am
How to Train Your Dragon 2 BBC One 4.10pm
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 ITV 2 6.20pm
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix ITV 8pm
About a Boy Channel 4 11.05pm
Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa Channel 4 11.30pm
Frankie Boyle’s 2017 New World Order
We may not have Charlie Brooker’s 2017 Wipe, but Frankie Boyle is just the bitter tonic we all need after 2017, as the comedian takes his nifty talk show format and dissects the events of the past 12 months with all the acerbic insight and caustic wit you could hope for. It’s the annual round-up we need – and the one we deserve. Read our full review
Taskmaster has see Bob Mortimer reminding the world this year that he hasn’t lost his brilliantly surreal edge, so what a treat to have him and Vic Reeves bringing back their daft stage show for a one-off special. Read our full review
The Olivier Award-winning Mischief Theatre Company return to the small screen with their take on Dickens’s famous festive fable.
Blacklisted by the BBC after ruining Peter Pan, the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society do not take their ban lying down and force themselves back on the BBC by hijacking the jewel of the Christmas schedule, a live production of A Christmas Carol, staged by a professional cast that includes none other than Derek Jacobi and Diana Rigg. Read our full review
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 ITV 8pm
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 1 Channel 4 9pm
Speed Channel 4 11.20pm
New Year’s Eve
Robot Wars International Special (BBC Two, 7pm)
Just when you think tensions between the UK and Europe can’t get any more heated, enter Robot Wars for an international contest to end all others, as the UK’s greatest robot fighters battle it out with the best teams from across the world in a bulletproof arena.
This episode features former Champions Apollo, Sabretooth, Terrorhurtz and Gabriel 2, taking on a true legend of Robots wars – the highly flammable Diotoir. Making up the Rest of the World team are TMWHK from the Netherlands, Cobra from Belgium and Rabid M8 from Portugal. Who will reign supreme in this global battle? Read our full review
Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron and Zendaya join Graham Norton to talk The Greatest Showman, although the sofa’s other guests aren’t any less impressive, with both Suranne Jones and Gary Oldman swinging by the sofa.
Val, Selasi, Benjamina and Rav are among the faces returning for this festive special of The Great British Bake Off. With Prue Leith, Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding firmly at home in the tent, after their successful move to Channel 4 this year, we’ve got a real appetite for a second serving of this two-course Christmas edition (part one airs on Christmas Day).
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