TV Times Christmas 2023 bumper issue cover and on-sale date revealed

TV Times Christmas cover 2023
(Image credit: Future)

Christmas is coming... which means it's almost time for the 2023 TV Times Christmas sparkling double issue to hit the shops! 

Below you can see our wonderful TV Times Christmas cover in full and read the story of how it was designed. Plus there's a special subscription deal from £1 per issue on now . That's a perfect gift that keeps unwrapping all year round!

This year's TV Times bumper issue will be on sale across the country from Tuesday, December 12, 2023 (even earlier in some places!), with lots of cracking features on all the season's biggest stars and shows, covering two weeks of festive TV. 

Christmas TV this year will include the Call the Midwife Christmas 2023 special, the Death in Paradise Christmas special 2023, and the first Beyond Paradise Christmas special. Plus the final ever episode of Ghosts as the spooks bow out with a festive episode. Other family highlights include Channel 4's Mog and Tabby McTat, the latest BBC One festive animation by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffer.

TV Times Christmas cover 2023

(Image credit: Future)

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Interview with TV Times Christmas cover illustrator Richard Johnson

Hi Richard Johnson! So, what was your reaction when you were asked to provide the illustration for the cover of this year’s TV Times Christmas double issue? 

Richard: "I was delighted to be asked to illustrate the TV Times Christmas front cover! I always love illustrating for Christmas-themed commissions, and this is a big one. It’s exciting to know that the magazine will be in the shops over Christmas, such a special time of year!"

What was your starting point? Was there anything you were keen to include in the design? 

"The initial brief asked for a Santa figure. After considering the design and playing around with some possibilities in my sketchbook, I decided that an ice-skating Santa might be fun and also it would be nice to see Santa enjoying the festive period, too, rather than working hard to deliver all those presents! So, we pursued that direction..."

Could you talk us through the process of how the cover came together from your initial ideas to the final image?

"I usually start with some very rough pencil quick thumbnails to get a sense of the composition. I then try to work my drawings around the titles and other graphic elements of the cover, just to see how all the objects might work together. After I have the characters and composition planned, I start to work up a more polished drawing, followed by a colour rough. All this preparation helps the client and I to know exactly what the finished artwork will look like."

How did you create the movement for Santa skating — it’s very unusual and looks very tricky to achieve? 

"I started to compose the figure by drawing a series of shapes. This approach helped me to simplify the form and capture a sense of movement through their arrangement. I then redrew this initial design several times, adding more detail on top of the shapes until the figure emerged. I also tried to overlap Santa in front of the title and copy, just so he looks like he’s coming out of the cover a little more!" 

The cover is packed with lots of wonderful little details. Is there anything you particularly love that readers should look out for?

"Yes, I wanted to bring in other elements to help decorate the scene. There’s a little Robin flying next to Santa, and dotted around the snowy hills in the background are some little snowboarders and skiers, too.

"I wanted to try to create a scene that is celebratory and that illustrates the fun of Christmas. Staging the scene at dusk, lit by all the colourful lights, hopefully helped bring the magic to life!"

TV Times’ Christmas covers always celebrate the magic of Christmas. What do you think makes Christmas magical? 

"I think dark nights, snow and cosy warm interiors lit by Christmas lights. The magic of people giving, families and friends coming together!"

Was being an illustrator something you always dreamed of? And could you tell us a bit about some of the clients you have worked with previously?  

"Yes, I always wanted to be an illustrator ever since I was a boy, so I eventually studied illustration at university. I've worked with lots of great clients over the years and have illustrated lots of different things, from children’s books to advertisements, magazines and newspapers. I love to tell stories through my illustrations, so I'm probably known for my children’s picture books. In the past, I’ve illustrated Christmas themes and packaging for Marks & Spencer and Harrods of London, too!"

Finally, TV Times’ Christmas issue will be taking pride of place in living rooms up and down the country this year. How does that make you feel? 

"Really great! It was a lovely commission to work on. I’m excited to see the work in print and have my own copy — they’ll hopefully be some time for a bit of TV over the Christmas period!"

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas, love from everyone at TV Times x

Don't forget to pick up a copy!

Also, we remember we have a TV Guide where you can see all the latest listings. 

David Hollingsworth

David is the What To Watch Editor and has over 20 years of experience in television journalism. He is currently writing about the latest television and film news for What To Watch.

Before working for What To Watch, David spent many years working for TV Times magazine, interviewing some of television's most famous stars including Hollywood actor Kiefer Sutherland, singer Lionel Richie and wildlife legend Sir David Attenborough. 

David started out as a writer for TV Times before becoming the title's deputy features editor and then features editor. During his time on TV Times, David also helped run the annual TV Times Awards. David is a huge Death in Paradise fan, although he's still failed to solve a case before the show's detective! He also loves James Bond and controversially thinks that Timothy Dalton was an excellent 007.

Other than watching and writing about telly, David loves playing cricket, going to the cinema, trying to improve his tennis and chasing about after his kids!