Christmas is here – and, put aside the presents, the turkey and the board games, and we all know it’s really about what’s on the telly. Fortunately, the age-old battle for the remote control in the living room is over, as we use catch-up services to keep up-to-date with dramas, festive specials and more.
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. 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 2018 UK Christmas TV line-up. Bookmark this page: it will be updated with new highlights and films on TV as they’re confirmed, and links will be added to each programme on VOD, so it’s easy to stay up-to-date without having to take off your pyjamas. Nothing on the schedule you like? Click here for Christmas movies on streaming services and other festive recommendations.
If you remember being traumatised by Watership Down as a child, good news: BBC One and Netflix are teaming up to bring us an all-new animated version of Richard Adams’ bestselling novel, which follows a band of rabbits on their flight from the intrusion of man and the certain destruction of their home. Led by a stout-hearted pair of brothers, they journey forth from their native Sandleford Warren through the harrowing trials posed by predators and adversaries, towards a promised land and a more perfect society. James McAvoy, Nicholas Hoult, John Boyega, Gemma Arterton, Daniel Kaluuya and Olivia Colman lead an impressive voice cast. Read our review
Channel 5 gets its seasonal mystery groove on with this playful feature-length drama about the 11 days when the famous author disappeared in 1926 – and, according to this telling of events, spent that time deciding to solve a real life murder, namely that of the god-daughter of Florence Nightingale. Ruth Bradley stars as Agatha Christie, with support from Tim McInnerny, Pippa Heywood and more. (Read our review)
Mark Gatiss brings the Christmas ghost story tradition back to life with The Dead Room, a chilling new tale for BBC Four. Written and directed by Gatiss, the 30-minute film tells the tale of a long-running radio horror series of the same name. Simon Callow (Victoria & Abdul, Shakespeare In Love, Four Weddings And A Funeral) plays Aubrey Judd, the radio series’ veteran presenter and national treasure, who finds that he must adapt to changing times and tastes…
But whatever happened to the classic ghost stories? The good old days? Aubrey soon discovers that all is not quiet in the eerie radio studio – and that elements of his own past are not as dead and buried as he perhaps hoped… (Read our full review)
Turfed out of Buckingham Palace, the Queen (Samantha Bond) and her family wind up living in a run-down cul-de-sac when sneaky prime minister Jack Barker (David Walliams) abolishes the monarchy. Without money, heating or the reverence they’re used to, they must quickly adapt to their new lives. But are they really that different from everyone else? Amanda Abbington, Johnny Vegas, Julia McKenzie, Frances Barber and Oliver Chris star in this brilliantly funny Sky original production, an adaptation of Sue Townsend’s novel.
The tent opens once again for a special round of festive baking, with former GBBO contestants returning for two seasonal episodes – one on Christmas Day, one on New Year’s Day. Among those back for more spoon-beating and Hollywood Handshakes are Liam Charles, Flo Atkins, Jane Beedle, Andrew Smyth. (Read our review)
Picture the scene, the post-Christmas Day kitchen carnage, rubbish everywhere, everyone fighting to be heard and nowhere to sit down and relax. Enter Danny Dyer. Sipping tea out of a Prince Harry & Meghan Markle Royal Wedding mug, Danny reflects on a “pretty full on” year. He goes on to give his view candidly about the lack of leadership in this country.
It wouldn’t be Christmas without an animation based on a book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. Zog is the latest and tells the story of a keen but accident-prone dragon who gets himself into mischief whilst learning how to fly, roar, breathe fire and fight knights in his first four years at Dragon School. With a star-studded cast led by Sir Lenny Henry, Game of Thrones’ Kit Harington and Hugh Skinner, and with Magic Light Pictures doing the animation once again, expect this to be as charming as last year’s The Highway Rat. (Read our review.)
Bem Elton’s sitcom, starring David Mitchell as Shakespeare, returns for a festive outing, which sees a mysterious guest arrive at the playwright’s household – played by none other than Kenneth Branagh.
Will Tudor (Humans, Shadowhunters, Mr Selfridge) and Poppy Lee Friar (Ackley Bridge, Eve, In the Club) get their skates on for ITV’s one-off drama, which follows ice dancing royalty Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean, charts their early years and the creative impetus that drove them to become legends. Written by William Ivory (Made in Dagenham), Torvill & Dean tells the story of Jayne and Chris’s iconic partnership from both a personal and artistic perspective. (Read our review)
And Then There Were None’s Sarah Phelps gives Agatha Christie another shot of modern darkness with this take on her popular novel. We join Poirot in the 1930s, a time when the nation is dangerously divided and suspicion and hatred are on the rise. In the midst of this, Hercule faces a serial killer known only as A.B.C. First the killer strikes in Andover, then Bexhill. As the murder count rises, the only clue is the copy of The ABC Railway Guide at each crime scene. John Malkovich will play the iconic detective, joined by Rupert Grint (Harry Potter, Sick Note) as Inspector Crome, Andrew Buchan (Broadchurch, The Honourable Woman) as Franklin Clarke and Tara Fitzgerald (Game Of Thrones, Requiem) as Lady Hermione Clarke. (Read our full review.)
The latest adaptation of a David Walliams book stars David himself and tells the story of a young boy called Tom who finds himself in hospital after being hit on the head by a cricket ball. On the children’s ward, he discovers the Midnight Gang, a secret group of children who go on midnight adventures in the hospital making dreams come true. Walliams’ headmaster is joined by Alan Davies as the scary porter, Haydn Gwynne as the kid-hating matron and Amit Shah as the slightly nervous Dr Luppers, while Tom is played by Oliver Zetterstrom.
Professor Alice Roberts meets our ancient ancestral family, from armadillos to sharks, and discovers our true place in the tree of life. With 4D scanning, giant origami and a ukulele, they will explore evolution like never before.
Frankie Boyle returns to BBC Two with his New World Order and, with the help of his guests, dissects the bewildering year that was 2018. The show features Frankie at his satirical best with stand-up, review and discussion – all in an attempt to make sense of the last 12 months. (Read our review)
Hendy and Stokes are back on the case in this Christmas special for the hilariously dark Australian comedy. It’s Christmas Eve and guess who drew the short straw and finds themselves stuck together in a car on yet another stakeout? (Read our review)
The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists! BBC One, 9.25am
Romancing the Stone More4, 11.35am
The Wizard of Oz ITV 3, 12.30pm
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom BBC One, 1.30pm
Kung Fu Panda 3 BBC One, 4.20pm
The Golden Compass ITV 2, 6.40pm
Delicious: Season 3
Enjoyed the twists and turns of Season 2? Well you’re in for a treat because there’s a third helping of the Sky original production on this year’s Christmas menu. Gina (Dawn French) and Sam (Emilia Fox) seemed to finally have found a way to work together. But the arrival of a rich and handsome restaurateur (Vincent Regan) is really about to cook their goose. Meanwhile, Teresa (Tanya Reynolds) arrives back from travelling with a big secret and Mimi (Sheila Hancock) is keeping something from the family, too…
Andrew Davies goes back to Victor Hugo’s 19th century classic for a retelling of the story without music. The dark, gritty drama will delve into the many layers of Hugo’s story, revelling in Jean Valjean and Javert’s cat-and-mouse relationship, against the backdrop of France at a time of civil unrest. A stellar ensemble cast includes Dominic West (Jean Valjean), David Oyelowo (Javert) and Lily Collins (Fantine), as well as Olivia Colman (Madame Thénardier), Adeel Akhtar (Monsieur Thénardier), Josh O’Connor (Marius) and Ellie Bamber (Cosette). (Read our review)
Ben Wheatley serves up a slice of deliciously awkward family drama, as his dark comedy sees Colin Burstead (Neil Maskell) hire a lavish country manor for his extended family to celebrate New Year. Unfortunately, for Colin, his position of power in the family is under serious threat from the arrival of his estranged brother, David. Wheatley regulars Richard Glover, Peter Ferdinando, Neil Maskell, Mark Monero and Sam Riley bring laughs to the spiky script, with funny support from Asim Chaudhry, Joe Cole, Charles Dance, Alexandra Maria Lara, Doon Mackichan, Sinead Matthews, Bill Paterson and Hayley Squires. (Read our review)
“This is the DNA of the most dangerous creature in the universe…” That’s the sound of Doctor Who returning for a New Year’s Day special, as Jodie Whittaker’s Time Lord takes on what looks to be her biggest enemy yet.
Written by Chris Chibnall and directed by Wayne Yip, the episode will see Tosin Cole’s Ryan, Bradley Walsh’s Graham and Mandip Gill’s Yaz join the Doctor for a one-off outing, following Season 11’s finale. As the New Year begins, a terrifying evil is stirring from across the centuries of Earth’s history. With the Doctor, Ryan, Graham and Yaz returning home, will they be able to overcome the threat to planet Earth? (Read our review)
Images on VODzilla.co are authorised and subject to restrictions. Permission is required for any further use beyond viewing on this site. Remote control icon created by Bjoin Andersson from Noun Project.
VODzilla.co is partly funded through affiliate marketing, which means that clicking some links on this page may generate income for the site. However, this is an independent publication: we take care not to let commercial relationships dictate the editorial stance of content or the writing staff.
We are using cookies to give you the best experience on our website.
You can find out more about which cookies we are using or switch them off in settings.
You can adjust all of your cookie settings by navigating the tabs on the left hand side.
Strictly Necessary Cookies
Strictly Necessary Cookie should be enabled at all times so that we can save your preferences for cookie settings.
If you disable this cookie, we will not be able to save your preferences. This means that every time you visit this website you will need to enable or disable cookies again.
3rd Party Cookies
This website uses Google Analytics to collect anonymous information such as the number of visitors to the site, and the most popular pages.
Keeping this cookie enabled helps us to improve our website.
Please enable Strictly Necessary Cookies first so that we can save your preferences!