Ah Christmas. Every year it brightens our hearts and every year comes with it some AWESOME TV specials. Some that are one-off depending on a show’s current popularity and some that we expect, nay, need without fail. Here I have picked two TV shows that are both guaranteed to be gracing the Radio Times pages every festive season (at least have done and probably will continue to for a good few years) and two that are slightly obscure that are dependant on how long the show will run for. Yeah, I could have chosen some other ones: Black Mirror White Christmas, Top Gear Christmas Special (which, let’s face it, was awesome) or Miranda, or one offs like Roald Dahl’s Esio Trot or The Boy in the Dress… But here are my chosen four!
UK air time: 6:15pm, Thurs 25th December, BBC One
Series preceding: 8
For many households, what is Christmas TV without Doctor Who? Even those who don’t watch it when it’s normally on TV make an effort to watch it on Christmas, even I liked watching the Christmas specials when I didn’t watch the series. In fact, I’ve only watched Doctor Who for like, 2 series anyway (I know, shock horror!) and I’m not sure how I feel about it yet, but there was no way I was going to miss the Christmas Special. At the end of last season, the audience was given a great little taster when Nick Frost introduced himself as Santa when he entered the TARDIS, and if that didn’t hook you, I don’t know what would.
I’ve found that the Who episodes of late have taken a more emotional route (not that they weren’t emotional already!) and have focused on memories, dreams, fears, and tackled them in the only way Doctor Who knows how: Aliens and other dimensions, of course. This episode was no different, and with introduction of Frost as Santa was pure genius, and played a crucial part in tackling another emotional topic to all of us, the existence of Father Christmas.
UK air time: 9pm, Thurs 25th December, ITV
Series preceding: 5
I know, it’s not exactly an original one, but I LOVE Downton Abbey. It’s supposed to be one of those shows that only Americans like because that’s what they think England is like right now (I’m fairly certain they don’t think that… Fairly certain…) but it’s great. The story lines, the scenery, production values, just everything. Period drama never looked so good. And in this Christmas Special, contrary to Christmas Specials gone before, was a very positive and happy affair.
The years are rolling passed, and as the great Bob Dylan once sang, the times they are a changing and some people are starting to realise that the Upper class/servant systems they’ve got in place won’t remain for long. I won’t give too much away if you haven’t already seen it, but we may finally have laid the ‘who killed Peter Green’ saga to rest and a very long awaited engagement! A very Merry Christmas indeed! (Lest we forget the sad Christmas Special of 2012…)
Call The Midwife
UK air time: 7:50pm, Thurs 25th December, BBC One
Series Preceding: 3
Call The Midwife Christmas Special is one that you just know is going to warm your heart. When a popular series begins, I think you can sometimes guess which ones will be offers to make a Christmas Special and which ones weren’t, and Call The Midwife checks every box. Period drama? Check. Likeable characters? Check. Believability? Check. A heart-warming premise and story lines that even Scrooge wouldn’t grumble at? Double check.
This show is set Post-war and at the time when the NHS was just coming into action. It follows the lives of Midwifes, both Nurses and Nuns, and the patients and people they meet along the way. There wasn’t much ‘Special’ about this Christmas Special, just a lot of love and more tragic stories along the way, but it’s nice to see that the series doesn’t fail from the departing of Jessica Raine who played Jennifer Worth, the main character that the TV show follows and who also narrated the series.
UK air time: 9pm, Mon 22nd December, Sky One
Series Preceding: 3
Strangely enough, I think this episode was my favourite out of all the Christmas Specials this year. Stella is a ridiculously cliché and cheesy show set in the fictional town in South Wales called Pontyberry which follows Stella, her unconventional family and the colourful lives of the Pontyberry locals. Honestly, I would be here all day going on about her ex husband, her kids and their kids, and when you throw in Aunty Brenda, and Di Davis… Goodness, I don’t know how the writers keep up.
In the last series, we saw Stella take control of her future and start training to be a Nurse. In a Christmas Special we get a dose of sadness as she works on a ward with a terminally ill little boy, and a lot of laughs when Aunty Brenda directs Cinderella featuring practically the whole town. Yes, it’s cheesy, but it’s traditionally Christmas and features the kind of Christmas spirit that I only got when I was ten and watched The Greatest Store in the World on Christmas Eve, and that’s what Christmas is all about.
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! Did you watch anything good on the big day?
I wrote about Girls season 4 when it came back on our screens, and the sequel to this post would beDecember’s top TV shows. If you like Game of Thrones I was lucky enough to visit the film locations in Northern Ireland in early 2016.