Christmas TV Guide: the best shows to watch this Christmas

Nurse Lucille Anderson (LEONI ELLIOTT), Nurse Trixie Franklin (HELEN GEORGE), Nurse Nancy Corrigan (MEGAN CUSACK) have a snowball fight in Call the Midwife Christmas 2022
Festive fun is coming to Poplar! (Image credit: BBC / Neal Street Productions)

Here's our Christmas TV guide, bringing you all the must-see shows so you don't miss a thing this festive season!

One of the best things about Christmas 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, because 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 festive chocolates.

We will update this article as more shows are announced and when we find out exactly when everything is on. Plus, here are the best Christmas films on TV for BBC One, BBC Two, ITV1, C4 and Channel 5.

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

BBC

Call the Midwife Christmas special

Sister Frances (ELLA BRUCCOLERI), Nancy Corrigan (MEGAN CUSACK) in Call the Midwife Christmas 2022

Sister Frances and Nancy Corrigan star in the Call the Midwife Christmas special.  (Image credit: BBC / Neal Street Productions)

Just like every other year, the Call the Midwife 2022 Christmas special promises to be a jewel in the BBC's Christmas TV crown, and this year it seems we might have a festive wedding to look forward to. 

While it is still early days so we are yet to get a full synopsis of what might happen in the Call the Midwife Christmas special, there have been hints that we might see Trixie Franklin and Matthew Aylward getting married after sneaky behind-the-scenes snaps saw the cast and crew filming a wedding. Helen George (Trixie) and Olly Rix (Matthew) were spotted leaving a church in a bridal dress and suit, with happy onlookers cheering behind them. Hurrah!

When does it air? 

The BBC is yet to confirm an air date for the Call the Midwife festive special, but last year's aired on Christmas Day at 8 pm on BBC One, and it is thought this year will be the same. We will update this page when an air date and time are confirmed.

Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special

Strictly Come Dancing judges

The Strictly judges are back for the Christmas special.  (Image credit: BBC)

Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special 2022 will see a new batch of celebrities take to the floor in a bid to be crowned Christmas Champions. Each of the couples will perform a festive-inspired routine with the hope of impressing the judges, Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse, Anton Du Beke and Shirley Ballas once again. 

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 some famous faces. We are still waiting for the names of the celebrities taking part to be announced, but as soon as we know we will update this guide. 

When does it air? 

We are still waiting for a confirmed air date, but the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special usually airs on Christmas Day on BBC One. We will update this page when an air date and time are confirmed.

Death in Paradise Christmas special

Commissioner Selwyn Patterson (Don Warrington) dressed as Santa on the beach for the Death in Paradise Christmas Special

Commissioner Selwyn Patterson is ready for the Death in Paradise Christmas Special.  (Image credit: BBC/ Red Planet / Denis Guyeon)

The Death in Paradise Christmas special 2022 is set to see Christmas in Saint Marie take a spooky turn when an old case of Selwyn’s comes back to haunt him following the murder of a true crime podcaster on the hunt for a missing child. Meanwhile, Marlon is forced to spend the night in a haunted house and Darlene takes a hard look at her life choices. And with Neville (Ralf Little) now officially out in the dating world after posting his profile in the final episode of the last series, could a chance encounter in an airport car park mean love is finally in the air?

When does it air?

There are no details on when the Death in Paradise Christmas special will air yet, but last year's aired on Boxing Day on BBC One so it is thought this year could be the same. We will update this page when an air date and time are confirmed. 

The Smeds and The Smoos 

The Smeds and the Smoos comes to BBC1 for Christmas 2022.

The Smeds and The Smoos is coming to BBC One for Christmas 2022. (Image credit: BBC/Magic Light)

The Smeds and The Smoos is this year's animation adaptation of the brilliant books written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler. After the success of animations such as Gruffalo, The Gruffalo’s Child, Stick Man, The Snail and the Whale and Room on the Broom, the latest of Julia Donaldson’s books to be brought to life focuses on a star-crossed romance that takes place between the children of two warring tribes. But while the plot might sound slightly familiar, fear not as it has definitely been given the Julia Donaldson touch and includes a gripping space adventure across the galaxy. And with Adjoa Andoh, Meera Syal and Bill Bailey lending their voices to the characters it looks set to be a sure-fire hit. 

When does it air?

The Smeds and The Smoos will premiere on BBC One over Christmas. We will update this page as soon as an air date is confirmed. 

Ghosts Christmas special

Ghosts Christmas special 2021

Ghosts is back with another Christmas special.  (Image credit: BBC)

Ghosts season 4 wrapped up in October, but fans will be thrilled to know there is a festive offering on the way as Ghosts Christmas special 2022 arrives over the festive period. Expect more hilarious ghostly capers and mishaps in this festive special as the residents of Button House brighten up our Christmas once again this year. All the usual faces will be back and we will update this guide with more plot information as soon as it is released. 

When does it air? 

The Ghosts Christmas special traditionally airs on December 23 on BBC One, but as soon as the BBC confirms an air date we will update this page.

Gangsta Granny Strikes Again

David Walliams attends the Harry's Bar Mayfair 40th Anniversary celebration wearing a blue suit and bow toe against a flowery background

David Walliams' book Gangsta Granny Strikes Again will be brought to life by the BBC this Christmas.  (Image credit: Getty)

Following the huge success of adaptations like Mr Stink, Gangsta Granny, The Boy In The Dress, Billionaire Boy, Grandpa’s Great Escape and The Midnight Gang, the latest David Walliams book to be commissioned by the BBC is Gangsta Granny Strikes Again

This is the sequel to Gangsta Granny, which aired on the BBC back in 2013, and we join Ben a year on as he is getting used to life without his beloved Gran. With the memory of their daring Crown Jewel heist still fresh in his mind, he is stunned to learn another spate of thefts are beginning to occur — with all the clues pointing to The Black Cat, better known to Ben as Granny! Surprising? Yes. Impossible? Maybe. Expect the unexpected as David returns as Dad, Mike while Sheridan Smith plays Mum, Linda.

When does it air?

It is thought that Gangsta Granny Strikes Again will air over the Christmas period. Once a confirmed date is released we will add it to this guide. 

ITV

Doc Martin Christmas special 

The Doc makes no bones about his dislike of Chicken the dog.

Doc Martin is back for one last episode this Christmas.  (Image credit: ITV)

The Doc Martin Christmas special 2022 is a milestone moment because it is also the very last episode of the show to ever be aired. The popular medical drama went out on a high in Doc Martin season 10 recently, and now the Doc, his wife Louisa and their kids are spending Christmas in Portwenn after a near-death experience lead to them scrapping their plans to relocate to London. But is the small Cornish town going to be full of festive fun, or will the grumpy medic lower their spirits with some sort of outrage?!

When does it air?

An air date for the Doc Martin Christmas special hasn't been confirmed yet, but we're expecting it to be shown on either Christmas Eve, Christmas Day or Boxing Day. We will update this guide as soon as we know more. 

Paul O’Grady: For the Love of Dogs — Royal Special

TV tonight Paul O'Grady with Daisy.

Paul is hoping to find homes for some lovely pups this Christmas.  (Image credit: ITV)

This festive episode of Paul O’Grady: For the Love of Dogs Royal Special will feature Her Majesty The Queen Consort, a long-term supporter of Battersea and self-confessed dog-lover hosting a celebratory event at Clarence House and later helping Paul care for some of the abandoned dogs searching for a new forever home.

In the hour-long episode, The Queen Consort hosts a garden party at Clarence House to celebrate Battersea’s anniversary before joining Paul at Battersea’s Brands Hatch site in Kent. Together they will meet some of the dogs struggling to be rehomed and assist with their treatment and care, in the hope of finding them a happy-ever-after home of their own in time for Christmas.

When does it air?

ITV is yet to announce an air date for Paul O’Grady: For the Love of Dogs — Royal Special but as soon as it has been revealed we will update this page. 

The Voice Kids Christmas special

Emma Willis is back hosting 'The Voice Kids'

Emma Willis is back hosting The Voice Kids. (Image credit: ITV)

The Voice Kids Christmas special 2022 sees Boyzone favourite Ronan Keating joining coaches Will.i.am, Pixie Lott and Danny Jones in the spinning red chairs, as he takes over from Melanie C who is unable to return to the show due to tour commitments. Emma Willis will be back to present the series which sees young singers between the ages of seven and 14 hoping to turn both heads and chairs in their bid to become The Voice Kids champion 2022.

When does it air?

The Voice Kids Christmas special will air over three episodes on ITV. We will update this page when the air dates are confirmed. 

Channel 4

The Great Christmas Bake Off 

It’s Bread Week and Paul and Prue are on a roll

Who will be impressing Paul and Prue in the Bake Off tent?  (Image credit: C4)

The Great Christmas Bake Off 2022 is back for another festive offering where we will see a new batch of nervous celebrities entering the white tent in a bid to impress judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith. But who will cook up a festive storm and who will be celebrating Christmas with a soggy bottom?! The celebrities taking part are yet to be revealed, but we will update this page with more information as soon as it is announced. 

When does it air?

The Great Christmas Bake Off traditionally airs on Christmas Day on Channel 4, but as soon as an air date for this year is confirmed we will add it to this guide. 

Channel 5

All Creatures Great and Small Christmas special

Nicholas Ralph and Rachel Shenton in the All Creatures Great and Small Christmas Special

It's Christmas in wartime in the All Creatures Great and Small Christmas Special.  (Image credit: Channel 5)

The All Creatures Great and Small Christmas special 2022 promises to be a festive highlight for Channel 5, and while this will be the third Christmas special for the hugely popular drama, it will be the first to be overshadowed by World War Two.

In the final moments of All Creatures Great and Small season 3 James and Tristan were queuing up to join the armed forces. James has been torn over whether to join up, wracked with guilt seeing other men heading off to war, while Tristan wants to show Siegfried that he is a grown man and can literally fight his own battles. Mrs Hall will no doubt be on hand to lay on the best possible festive feast, but with her own son away at war, will she get bad news about him? It’s certainly going to be an anxious Christmas but hopefully with some festive cheer thrown in.

When does it air? 

As in previous years, Channel 5 is likely to broadcast the All Creatures Great and Small Christmas special a few days before Christmas Day itself. When we have an official release date we will update this article.

Sky

Christmas Carole

Christmas Carole on Sky Max sees Suranne Jones's mean character taught a lesson by the ghosts of Morecambe & Wise.

Christmas Carole stars Suranne Jones. (Image credit: Sky)

Christmas Carole sees Suranne Jones put an unusual spin on Charles Dickens' classic novel A Christmas Carol for this new festive movie on Sky Max. Suranne plays Carole Mackay, the darling of the British business world who's made a fortune selling festive gifts online. Nicknamed 'Christmas Carole' by everyone, she's never discovered the true meaning of Christmas, but that's all about to change one Christmas Eve when Carole is visited by spirits of Christmas past, present and future. The spirits are represented by major personalities from British television, who hope to show her the true spirit of the season. Look out for Morecambe and Wise, Jo Brand and Nish Kumar!

When does it air?

Christmas Carole will be available on Sky Atlantic and streaming service NOW with an Entertainment Membership (opens in new tab) for just £9.99. There is no confirmed air date yet, but as soon as one is announced we will update this page. 

After Ever After: Little Red Riding Hood 

'Hansel and Gretel: After Ever After'.

Last year's After Ever After special focused on the story of Hansel and Gretel.  (Image credit: Sky)

David Walliams returns for another installment in the After Ever After series, this time bringing the world of Little Red Riding Hood to life, 50 years after the events of the classic fairy tale we all know and love. 

In modern-day, a grown-up Red Riding Hood has established a fearsome reputation within the village of Wolferton as a deadly Wolf Buster, hunting down wolves with her Wolf Blaster and ridding them from the forest forever. Red’s eager and intelligent granddaughter Red Riding Boots wants desperately to become a Wolf Buster herself, having listened to her grandmother tell the famous story many times, but when two wealthy German tourists Helga and Otto arrive demanding to see a real-life wolf, things suddenly take a very dark turn...

When does it air? 

We are still waiting for an air date for After Ever After: Little Red Riding Hood, but it is thought the one-off special will air this December on Sky Max. 

Claire Crick
Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch

Claire is Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch and has been a journalist for over 15 years, writing about everything from soaps and TV to beauty, entertainment, and even the Royal Family. After starting her career at a soap magazine, she ended up staying for 13 years, and over that time she’s pulled pints in the Rovers Return, sung karaoke in the Emmerdale village hall, taken a stroll around Albert Square, and visited Summer Bay Surf Club in sunny Australia. 


After learning some tricks of the trade at websites Digital Spy, Entertainment Daily, and Woman & Home, Claire landed a role at What’s On TV and whattowatch.com writing about all things TV and film, with a particular love for Aussie soaps, Strictly Come Dancing and Bake Off


She’s interviewed everyone from June Brown — AKA Dot Cotton — to Michelle Keegan, swapped cooking tips with baking legend Mary Berry backstage at the NTAs, and danced the night away with soap stars at countless awards bashes. There’s not a lot she doesn’t know about soaps and TV and can be very handy when a soapy question comes up in a pub quiz! 


As well as all things soap-related, Claire also loves running, spa breaks, days out with her kids, and getting lost in a good book.