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Christmas TV Guide: the best shows to watch this Christmas

Christmas TV Guide - Shaun the Sheep Christmas special
Shaun the Sheep is just one of this years Christmas TV highlights. (Image credit: BBC / Ardman Animations)

Here's our Christmas TV guide so you don't miss a thing!

One of the best things about the festive season is spending time at home, unwinding in front of the television as you watch all the Christmas TV specials. But with so many shows on offer, it is hard to remember what is on, and when. 

But fear not our UK Christmas TV Guide has got all the information you need in one place, so you can stop panicking about missing your favourite shows, and focus on the more important things, like cracking open the Baileys and Quality Street... 

We will update this article as more shows are announced and when we find out exactly when everything is on!

Everything you need to know about your favourite Christmas shows is in our UK Christmas TV Guide...

BBC

'Call the Midwife' Christmas special

Trixie in the Call the Midwife Christmas Special

(Image credit: BBC / Nealstreet )

Just like every other year, the Call the Midwife 2021 Christmas special promises to be a jewel in the BBC Christmas TV crown. This festive offering, set in December 1966, promises to be a memorable one as Lucille (Leonie Elliott) and Cyril (Zephryn Taitte) prepare for their upcoming winter wedding. The Nonnatus team are faced with their busiest Christmas Day ever as the Maternity Home is filled with expectant mums to be, each with their own challenging case. And, to make the start of Call The Midwife season 11 even more special, the amazing Miriam Margolyes will also be reprising her role as Sister Mildred.

When does it air? 

We don't have a confirmed air date at the moment, but it is thought that the episode will air on Christmas Day, as it has in previous years.

'Strictly Come Dancing' Christmas special

Strictly Come Dancing judges

(Image credit: BBC)

Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special will see six celebrities take to the floor in a bid to be crowned Christmas Champions 2021. Each of the six couples will perform a Christmas inspired routine with the hope of impressing the judges, Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse, Anton Du Beke, Shirley Ballas, and the voting audience. 

Jay Blades from The Repair Shop was the first celebrity contestant confirmed for the show and will be paired with professional dancer, Luba Mushtuk. Fred Sirieix was the second celebrity contestant confirmed and will be paired with professional dancer, Dianne Buswell.

The Christmas special will of course be hosted by Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman, and, as well as dancing, there’s plenty of music, with special performances from Jamie Cullum and Gary Barlow and Sheridan Smith. 

When does it air? 

Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special will air on BBC1 on Christmas Day.

'Death in Paradise' Christmas special

Death in Paradise Christmas Special 2021

(Image credit: BBC)

This Death in Paradise Christmas special is extra special because it is the first-ever feature length festive offering of the hugely popular show. It’s Christmas time on Saint Marie and Neville is preparing to head to Manchester to spend the holiday with his family. But his plans are abruptly changed when a billionaire shipping magnate dies in mysterious circumstances.

Things only get stranger when a minicab driver in London receives a Christmas card with an ominous message inside that turns the entire case on its head. For Neville and the team, will this be a case they can crack together?

Concluding the tenth anniversary celebrations, this festive 90-minute special, which stretches from a grey damp drizzly London all the way to the warm sparkling beauty of idyllic Saint Marie, will also see the return of Danny John-Jules as charismatic Officer Dwayne Myers. 

When does it air?

The Death in Paradise Christmas special 2021 is likely to be screened on BBC1 on Christmas Day. It might follow on from the Call the Midwife Christmas special. However, we will update this page when schedules are officially confirmed.

'Around the World in 80 Days'

'Around The World In 80 Days' on the BBC and PBC Masterpiece with David Tennant, Ibrahim Koma and Leonie Benesch.

(Image credit: BBC)

Around the World in 80 Days is an eight-part drama that has been adapted  from Jules Verne’s novel of the same name. The series stars David Tennant as the intrepid explorer Phileas Fogg, Ibrahim Koma as the mercurial Passepartout and Leonie Benesch as young journalist Abigail ‘Fix’ Fortescue. Following an outrageous bet, Fogg and his valet, Passepartout, take on the legendary challenge of circumnavigating the globe in just 80 days, swiftly joined by aspiring journalist Abigail ‘Fix’ Fortescue, who seizes the chance to report on this extraordinary story.

When does it air? 

Around the World in 80 Days promises to be a highlight in the BBC Christmas schedule. We will update this guide when the air date has been confirmed. 

'Doctor Who' New Year's Day special

Doctor Who - The Doctor (JODIE WHITTAKER)

(Image credit: BBC Studios/James Pardon/Matt Burlem)

The Thirteenth Doctor and friends will kick-start 2022 with an action-packed episode. Along with Jodie Whittaker as The Doctor, this festive special will feature guest stars Aisling Bea (This Way Up, Living With Yourself, Quiz) as Sarah, Adjani Salmon (Dreaming Whilst Black, Enterprice) as Nick. 

Sarah owns and runs ELF storage, and Nick is a customer who visits his unit every year on New Year’s Eve. This year, however, their night turns out to be a little different than planned. The festive episode is the first of three Doctor Who Specials airing in 2022. The second special airs in Spring and Jodie’s final feature-length Special, when the Thirteenth Doctor will regenerate, will transmit in autumn 2022 as part of the BBC’s Centenary celebrations. 

When does it air?

This festive offering from Doctor Who will air on BBC1 on New Year's Day. We will update this guide when we have a confirmed time. 

'Shaun the Sheep: The Flight Before Christmas'

Shaun the Sheep

(Image credit: BBC / Ardman Animations)

Shaun the Sheep: The Flight Before Christmas is coming to BBC1 this Christmas for a new half-hour special featuring Shaun, Timmy and the Flock – as well as some new characters. The Flight Before Christmas sees Shaun's seasonal excitement turn to dismay when a farmhouse raid to get bigger stockings for the Flock inadvertently leads to Timmy going missing. Can Shaun get Timmy back before he becomes someone else’s present? Justin Fletcher returns as Shaun and Timmy, alongside Marcus Brigstocke as Farmer Ben, rival to The Farmer, first introduced in Shaun the Sheep series 6. 

When does it air?

Shaun the Sheep: The Flight Before Christmas will air on BBC1 over Christmas, we will update this page when the exact air date has been confirmed. 

'Mrs Brown's Boys' Christmas special

Mrs Brown's Boys 2021 Christmas Special

(Image credit: BBC / Alan Peebles)

Mrs Brown's Boys 2021 Christmas special is back for another year with news that there'll be not one but two special episodes to celebrate over the festive season.

Mammy's Mechanical Merriment

The Christmas episode, called Mammy's Mechanical Merriment, sees Agnes has been recruited to the church choir, but she’s under strict instructions from Father McBride that there’s to be no singing and certainly no dancing. That’s not the only thing off-limits, a Christmas tree shortage means Buster has to get even more creative than usual trying to impress Agnes by any means necessary. Meanwhile Dermot and Buster have organised this year’s festivities at Foleys and are holding a Murder Mystery night in aid of alcoholic greyhounds. What could possibly go wrong?

The New Year offering, called Mammy’s Micky, is all about reconciliation and fresh starts in the Brown household but not everyone seems to have got the message. Grandad’s brother, Micky, is fresh out of prison when he decides to stop by for a visit. Everyone except Grandad is suspicious when he shows up asking for five thousand euro to invest in a South African gold mine. Winnie, inspired by Cathy’s book, is on a daredevil mission to change the trajectory of her life while Mrs Brown’s boys are forced to have a heart to heart.

When does it air?

It is thought that these episodes will air on Christmas Day and New Year's Eve on BBC1, but we will update this page when air dates are confirmed. 

'Not Going Out' Christmas special

Not Going Out Christmas 2021

(Image credit: BBC)

Well as you can guess from the main picture there’s a panto theme. Lee isn’t impressed that Lucy has booked tickets to the panto given that her crush Jason Donovan is starring. Jason is very much Lucy’s Prince Charming, so will Lee’s jealously get him in trouble? 

Lee Mack and Sally Bretton return as Lee and Lucy. While Geoffrey Whitehead and Deborah Grant are back as Lucy’s parents. Hugh Dennis and Abigail Cruttenden play Toby and Anna.

When does it air? 

We suspect Christmas Eve or Christmas Day but that is still to be confirmed.

'Superworm' 

Superworm

(Image credit: BBC/Magic Light Pictures)

Superworm is this year's animation adaptation from the brilliant books written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler. Superworm is a comic hero with a difference... he's super-long, super-strong and big-hearted, and he and his best friend Butterfly are always helping all the other garden creatures, whether he's saving baby toad from a major road, rescuing beetle from down a well, or even becoming a skipping rope to entertain some bored bees. But, when the wicked Wizard Lizard hears about Superworm's special skills and kidnaps him can Butterfly come to the rescue? 

The first-rate voice cast will see Olivia Colman as Narrator, Matt Smith as the hero, Superworm, Patricia Allison as Butterfly, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith as Wizard Lizard and Rob Brydon as the Crow. 

When does it air? 

Superworm will air on BBC1 over Christmas, we will update this page when the exact air date has been confirmed. 

'Ghosts' Christmas special

Ghosts Christmas special 2021

(Image credit: BBC/Monumental Television/Guido Mandozzi)

Not only is there a Ghosts Christmas 2021 special for fans to enjoy, but it’s excitingly been revealed that Jennifer Saunders will be part of the cast! All the main cast will be back including Alison (Charlotte Ritchie) and Mike (Kiell Smith-Bynoe) who both return as the owners of Button House. We will also see Martha Howe-Douglas as Lady Fanny Button and Jennifer Saunders will be playing Lady Button’s mother. 

In the run up to the festive season, Kitty becomes convinced that Santa has made an early stop at Button House when Mike and Alison discover a man living in a tent on their grounds. The ghosts' advice on how to deal with him leaves much to be desired, but eventually Mike and Alison learn that they have more to offer this Christmas than they realised.

When does it air? 

The Ghosts Christmas special 2021 is likely to air either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day although this is yet to be confirmed by the BBC. We will update this article once we know more!

'A Very British Scandal'

A Very British Scandal - Ian Campbell (PAUL BETTANY), Margaret (CLAIRE FOY)

(Image credit: BBC)

A Very British Scandal focuses on the divorce of the Duke (Paul Bettany) and Duchess of Argyll (Claire Foy), one of the most notorious, extraordinary and brutal legal cases of the 20th Century. Famed for her charisma, beauty and style, Margaret, Duchess of Argyll, dominated the front pages as a divorce featuring accusations of forgery, theft, violence, drug-taking, secret recording, bribery and an explicit polaroid picture - all played out in the white-hot glare of the 1960s media.

When does it air?  

A Very British Scandal will air on BBC1 over Christmas, we will update this page when the exact air date has been confirmed. 

'Worzel Gummidge' Christmas specials

Worzel Gummidge with John and Susan

(Image credit: BBC)

The Worzel Gummidge Christmas 2021 special will see not one, but two, festive offerings starring Mackenzie Crook as the loveable scarecrow. The two new one-hour films directed, created and starring Mackenzie Crook are called Twitchers and Calliope Jane.

Twitchers will see a flock of rare choughs turn up at Scatterbrook Farm, and keen to seize the opportunity of scaring such a rarely sighted bird, Worzel enlists the help of Susan and John. But their plans are soon scuppered once word of the choughs gets around and a group of avid twitchers move in before he’s even had his chance. With the twitchers refusing to leave, can the children come up with a plan to help scare the choughs and save Worzel and Mr B from embarrassment?

The second episode, called Calliope Jane, sees Susan and John getting excited when they learn that F R Peregrine’s Travelling Fair is coming to Scatterbrook for one night only. But as much as he’d love to join his friends, Worzel can’t be seen wandering around by humans. He recalls the legend of a fairground with an enchanted organ. It’s believed that, with the right music, the organ has the power to send humans to sleep so that scarecrows can enjoy the rides without the fear of being seen. As the scarecrows descend the risk of being seen intensifies, but will the legend of the enchanted organ turn out to be true?  

When does it air? 

The Worzel Gummidge Christmas specials will air over Christmas on BBC1. We will update this guide when the air dates have been confirmed. 

'The Mezzotint' 

The Mezzotint

(Image credit: BBC)

The Mezzotint is a chilling ghost story set in the heart of an old English college in 1922 and promises to keep you on the edge of your seat this Christmas. Edward Williams, a curator at a university art museum, receives an old engraving of an unknown country house that at first seems to be nothing more than an image of an imposing facade and a sweeping lawn. But soon there are strange goings-on when things seem to move in the picture when no one is looking, and it becomes clear there is more to the image than first meets the eye. Could it be that the sinister picture is somehow trying to tell Mr Williams something?

When does it air? 

The Mezzotint will air on BBC2 over Christmas, we will update this page when the exact air date has been confirmed. 

ITV

'The Larkins' Christmas special

The Larkins Christmas special 2021

(Image credit: ITV)

The Larkins Christmas special promises to be a highlight of ITVs Christmas schedulling. The Larkins comes thirty years after The Darling Buds of May was screened, and now it’s getting its own Christmas special. Star Bradley Walsh announced that there was going to be a Christmas episode on The One Show. He revealed that he was currently filming the episode in Kent and promised the episode will be filled with snow!

When does it air?

The Larkins Christmas special is likely to be shown on Christmas Day, however, ITV is yet to confirm this.

'All Star Musicals at Christmas'

All Star Musicals at Christmas logo

(Image credit: ITV)

All Star Musicals at Christmas will see celebrities “embark on the ultimate musical theatre masterclass” for a night of festive entertainment, as they hope to steal the show and dazzle the judges with help from some of the biggest names in the West End. If they succeed, they will be voted All Star Musicals champion.

The celebrities will be putting on a spectacular performance, and taking the stage are TV presenter Fern Britton, actor Ben Miller, broadcaster Gyles Brandreth, TV presenter Anita Rani, Coronation Street actress Catherine Tyldesley, and sports presenter Radzi Chinyanganya.

When does it air?

We don't have a confirmed air date at the moment, but we will update this page as soon as schedules are released. 

'The Voice Kids' Christmas special

The Voice Kids - Christmas special judges

(Image credit: ITV)

The Voice Kids Christmas special will see an exciting new addition to the superstar coaching panel as pop icon Melanie C joins as a brand-new coach alongside familiar faces Danny Jones, will.i.am and Pixie Lott. Emma Willis is back hosting the new series where young singers, aged from seven to 14, take to the stage in a bid to impress the star coaching panel and get those big red chairs turning. This promises to be a very Christmassy series with Santa and snow, sleigh rides, and presents galore.

When does it air?

We don't have a confirmed air date at the moment, but we will update this page as soon as schedules are released.

'Strictly the Real Full Monty'

Ashley Banjo on the red carpet

(Image credit: Getty)

Strictly the Real Full Monty will see celebrity contestants baring all to raise awareness of life-saving cancer checks, whilst bringing old-school glitz, glamour, and ballroom elements to the festive series. Presenter, choreographer, and mentor Ashley Banjo is presenting the show, while 10 celebrities including EastEnders star Laila Morse, former Strictly Come Dancing stars James and Ola Jordan, former Hollyoaks actor Duncan James, Christine McGuinness, and Homes Under The Hammer star Martin Roberts, to name but a few, perform a striptease in Blackpool in front of a live audience.

When does it air?

A confirmed release date hasn't been announced, but we do know that it'll be part of the Christmas schedule. 

Channel 4

'The Abominable Snow Baby'

Julie Walters voices Terry Pratchett's The Abominable Snow Baby

(Image credit: Karwai Tang/WireImage)

Terry Pratchett’s The Abominable Snow Baby is C4's traditional animated Christmas offering, and it's set to be another heartwarming tale perfect for the festive season. 

The Abominable Snow Baby tells the story of a small, English town that is turned upside down by the arrival of a strange creature made out of snow. After huge snowfall, a 14-foot tall Abominable Snow Baby arrives on the scene. 

The creature is shunned and feared by the public, but the Snow Baby is rescued by an indomitable Granny and her grandson, Albert. They welcome the giant being into their home and shower it with love and affection. In turn, their kindness changes the town’s perception of the creature. Comedy icon Julie Walters (Paddington, Mamma Mia, Harry Potter) stars as the voice of the fearless Granny, with Hugh Dancy (Downton Abbey 2, Homeland, Hannibal) taking on the role of her courageous grandson, Albert.

When does it air?

C4 hasn’t revealed the official air date, but traditionally these animated specials are part of their Christmas Day line-up. Last year Quentin Blake’s Clown aired at 7:40pm on Christmas Day, it’s likely The Abominable Snow Baby will be on C4 at a similar time.

'The Great Christmas Bake Off' 

The Great Christmas Bake Off bakers 2021

(Image credit: Channel 4)

The Great Christmas Bake Off is back for another Christmas offering, and this year the series is reuniting the It's A Sin cast to take part in some seasonally-themed baking challenges. There will also be a second Christmas special called The Great Festive Bake Off. In this special, we'll see four former bakers returning to the tent, series nine bakers Kim-Joy and Jon, and series 11's Hermine and Rowan, who will all go head-to-head in three seasonal challenges in a bid to be Star Baker. 

When does it air?

So far, we don't have a confirmed transmission date for The Great Christmas Bake Off, or The Great Festive Bake Off but we will update this guide when the schedules are confirmed. 

Channel 5

'All Creatures Great and Small' Christmas special

All Creatures Great and Small Christmas 2021 special

(Image credit: Channel 5)

The All Creatures Great and Small Christmas 2021 special promises to be a festive highlight for Channel 5, and (SPOILER ALERT) it looks like romance could be in the winter air after James finally plucked up the courage to ask Helen to marry him at the end of the last series. Could their wedding take centre stage in the festive episode? James will no doubt be rather nervous given Helen’s runaway bride track record! She abandoned her wedding to Hugh at the last minute, might history repeat itself? Let’s hope not! 

When does it air? 

We don’t have a release date yet, although Christmas Eve looks like a possible date for it to be shown on Channel 5 in the UK.

Sky

'The Amazing Mr Blunden' 

Tamsin Greig looks terrifying as she plays evil Mrs Wickens in 'The Amazing Mr Blunden'.

(Image credit: Sky)

The Amazing Mr Blunden has all the ingredients for the perfect gothic tale to give viewers a chill this Christmas. From a mysterious Victorian old gentleman appearing from nowhere at Christmas, a creepy stately home with ghostly children wandering around it, plus a pair of horrible villains and a dark tragedy, this hot movie from 1972 has been remade by Sky Originals and stars Simon Callow, Tamsin Greig and Mark Gatiss. 

When does it air?

Sky has announced the 90-minute film will be coming this Christmas on Sky Max (formerly Sky One). It will also be available through the NOW service - the exact release date is yet to be confirmed. 

'Hansel and Gretel: After Ever After' 

Hansel and Gretel: After Ever After stars Sheridan Smith as the witch and David Walliams as a troll.

(Image credit: Sky)

Hansel and Gretel: After Ever After has been given a Christmas twist by David Walliams and promises to be a festive highlight following the previous success of other After Ever After movies on Sky including Cinderella and Jack & The Beanstalk. David Walliams and Sheridan Smith star in the classic Brothers Grimm fairytale which sees Hansel and Gretel (Bill Bekele and Lily Aspell) escape from the witch’s house in the woods. However, when they return to their village they learn that the villagers are being enticed by a mysterious stranger with sweets. Determined to make things right the pair must face their fears and return to the witch’s house for a final showdown.

When does it air? 

Hansel and Gretel: After Ever After is expected to air on Sky Max around Christmas time or slightly before, although an exact release date has yet to be announced for the UK, US or worldwide.

Netflix

'Robin Robin'

Robin Robin is coming to Netflix this Christmas.

(Image credit: Aardman/Netflix)

Charming stop-motion animation Robin Robin is the latest offering from Aardman’s famous animation studios. It tells the story of a bird who goes on a journey of self-discovery and boasts a voice cast including Gillian Anderson, Richard E Grant and BAFTA winner Adeel Akhtar. The musical adventure follows Robin (voiced by Bronte Carmichael), a bird raised by mice, who begins to question where she belongs. 

Robin Robin is released worldwide by Netflix on Wednesday Nov. 24

Apple TV+

'Mariah's Christmas: The Magic Continues' 

Mariah's Christmas: The Magic Continues first-look image

(Image credit: Apple TV+)

Mariah's Christmas: The Magic Continues is a new holiday special from the Queen of Christmas herself, Mariah Carey! We will see Mariah perform her brand-new Christmas single as well as her Christmas classic, All I Want For Christmas Is You, alongside a new rendition of Christmas (Baby Please Come Home). And, as if that wasn't enough, we'll also be treated to an exclusive interview featuring Mariah and her ten-year-old twins as they share their favorite holiday moments.

When does it air? 

Mariah's Christmas: The Magic Continues will air globally on Friday, Dec. 3.