‘Last Train To Christmas’: everything you need to know about the new festive feel-good movie

All aboard the 'Last Train To Christmas' with Michael Sheen, Nathalie Emmanuel., Katherine Kelly and and Cary Elwes.
All aboard the 'Last Train To Christmas' with Michael Sheen, Nathalie Emmanuel., Katherine Kelly and and Cary Elwes. (Image credit: Sky)

All aboard the Last Train To Christmas! The original new movie coming to Sky Cinema features time travel, plenty of 1980s nostalgia, some life-changing decisions, as well as Michael Sheen in a dodgy wig and Game of Thrones star Nathalie Emmanuel. It kicks off in the UK in 1985 as Tony Towers, a successful nightclub manager and local celebrity, boards the last train to Nottingham for a Christmas family reunion. Towers is at the top of his game, and has also recently become engaged to a much younger woman. But things go wrong when he moves to the buffet car only to suddenly find himself in 1995 — and things ten years on aren’t all they’re cracked up to be!

The movie looks at one man across many decades and is written and directed by Julian Kemp. It simultaneously celebrates the history of British cinema with each period shot cinematically as it would have been at that time.

So here’s everything you need to know about Sky Cinema's Christmas TV highlight Last Train To Christmas, including a chat with its star Michael Sheen...

‘Last Train To Christmas’ release date

Last Train To Christmas will premiere on Saturday 18 Dec. on Sky Cinema and the movie will also be available on the streaming service NOW. We also think it will launch in the US and worldwide on a streaming service, possibly Netflix or Amazon Prime Video. As soon as we find out, we'll update right here.

Is there a trailer for ‘Last Train To Christmas’?

Yes a trailer for the Last Train To Christmas has been released by Sky  which shows Michael Sheen with a classic 1980s-style long blond mullet. In fact there's a load of big hair on display! Plus we see Michael as his character in many different eras and fashions. 'Welcome aboard and merry Christmas!' the station announcer says at the start. Enjoy the fun! 

‘Last Train To Christmas’ plot

In Last Train To Christmas it’s 1985 and things are going great for Tony Towers (Michael Sheen) with his recent engagement to Sue Taylor (Nathalie Emmanuel) and a string of successful nightclubs. Yes he sounds and looks like Peter Stringfellow! But things become a little strange after he boards the 3:17 train to Nottingham for a Christmas family reunion. Moving up a carriage to the train’s buffet car, Tony finds himself mysteriously transported to 1995, where his nightclubs have shut and his personal life is in tatters. It soon becomes apparent that travelling up and down the carriages sends Tony forwards and backwards in time to various stages of his life, with his actions in one carriage directly affecting his life in the next. Michael Sheen appears as Tony Towers in many different years, hairstyles and fashions. You'll see him as a youth, in the 1970s in checked suit, plus getting old! The question is, can Tony change his life — and the lives of the people he loves — for the better, or will he just make things worse?

Different era! Tony Towers joins a train carriage in the 1970s!

A different era in 'Last Train To Christmas'! Tony Towers joins a train carriage in the 1970s! (Image credit: Sky)

Older Tony Towers taking the train.

Older Tony Towers is shocked to see himself as a pensioner in this particular train carriage. (Image credit: Sky)

‘Last Train To Christmas’ cast — Michael Sheen, Nathalie Emmanuel and Cary Elwes

Welsh actor Michael Sheen plays Tony, adding it to his list of notable movie roles, including Frost/Nixon, Tron: Legacy and The Twilight Saga series of films. The 52-year-old was nominated for a BAFTA and an Emmy for playing politician Tony Blair in The Deal (2003), The Queen (2006) and The Special Relationship (2010). He’s also appeared on TV in Masters of Sex, Good Omens and BBC1’s Staged.

Natalie Emmanuel, who plays Tony’s fiancée Sue, is best known as Missandei in the hit HBO fantasy series Game of Thrones. The British star began her acting career in the West End before joining Hollyoaks as Sasha Valentine in 2006. She’s also starred in the Maze Runner movies as well as the Fast & Furious films The Fate of the Furious and F9.

Also among the cast is English-American actor Cary Elwes, who plays Tony’s brother Roger. He’s best known for starring in The Princess Bride (1987), the Saw film series and as Robin Hood in Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993). On TV he’s appeared in Stranger Things, The X-Files and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

Cary Elwes as Tony's brother Roger.

Cary Elwes as Tony's brother Roger in 'Last Train To Christmas'. (Image credit: Sky)

Yet another era for Tony Towers!

Yet another era for Tony Towers! (Image credit: Sky)

'Last Train to Christmas' cast — who else is starring

Last Train to Christmas also features appearances from Katherine Kelly (Innocent, Criminal, Liar, Gentleman Jack and Coronation Street) as Roger's partner Paula, and Anna Lundberg (Staged) as passenger Astrid. Also look out for train passengers such as Tristan played by TV comedy legend Robin Askwith, plus iconic film star Hayley Mills and Cold Feet's John Thomson as Vic. Downton Abbey fans will be delighted to see Phyllis Logan as another passenger on the magical mystery train.

Katherine Kelly (on right) is on board with Nathalie Emmanuel.

Katherine Kelly (on right) as Paula on board with Nathalie Emmanuel as Sue Taylor. (Image credit: Sky)

The legendary Hollywood star Hayley Mills is travelling too!

The legendary Hollywood star Hayley Mills is travelling too!  (Image credit: Sky)

'Downton Abbey' star Phyllis Logan is an unimpressed passenger.

'Downton Abbey' star Phyllis Logan is an unimpressed passenger observing the mayhem.  (Image credit: Sky)

Interview: Michael Sheen reveals all about playing Tony in 'Last Train To Christmas'

What was the appeal of Last Train To Christmas?
Michael says: "Christmas, time travel and trains — it ticks all my boxes! All things I love and find intriguing. It’s such a simple idea — that you can time travel by changing train carriages. Why hasn’t it been done before?!"

Your larger-than-life character, Tony, certainly goes on quite a journey…
It’s in the tradition of A Christmas Carol or It’s a Wonderful Life, where Scrooge and George Bailey see an alternative version of themselves. And Tony has the power to change things – but should he? You think you’d go back in time and alter things if given the opportunity, but in this film I realised, as Tony does, that every decision you make has a knock-on effect on other people’s lives. And changes could make things worse for those you care about. So no, I’d leave things well alone if someone said I could go back in time! Nor would I want to see the future. One of the things I love about life is the idea of possibility, of waking up thinking anything could happen. It’s what makes life exciting."

Was it fun using fashion and hairstyles to follow Tony across the decades?
"One of the joys of this film was making me look so different. But it was also one of the challenges, making sure the wonderful details of the 1970s and 1980s – the outfits, Now That’s What I Call Music and Walkmans! - didn’t overwhelm the story, the personal journey that Tony was going on. Hopefully we get the balance right. You’d be surprised how few wigs I wear, given the amount of hairstyles. Only the 1980s mullet is a wig, the rest is my own lockdown hair! My two-year-old daughter, Lyra, would often come and see me on set and go, “Who’s that?”. Pretty soon she was like, “Oh, it’s just Daddy with silly hair!”.

Did you base Tony on anyone?
"Well, Julian Kemp, who wrote and directed the film, had read Peter Stringfellow’s autobiography, so he’s the starting point for the 1980s Tony we first meet. And I guess other roles I’ve played in my career were in versions of Tony, so there’s the ego of Brian Clough, a little bit of {David} Frost, Kenneth Williams maybe. He’s quite a character to play."

Any special moments from filming Last Train To Christmas?
The opening scene, boarding the train, when Nathalie walked up to me with her 1980s outfit and hair – that was memorable! I was a teenager growing up in Port Talbot in the ’80s and if I’d seen her then my life could’ve been very different!" 

Since we’re talking about time travel, Doctor Who fans are keen to see you in the TARDIS when Jodie Whittaker bows out of the role next year…
"It’s incredibly flattering but I’d be very surprised if the Doctor transforms into me because I’ve not heard from anyone!"

Anything you can tell us about Good Omens season 2?
"I’d be murdered if I told you what to expect! We’re filming now and I can guarantee they’ll be an angel that looks very much in love with a demon…"

Finally, what are your Christmas plans, Michael?
I’ll be home in Wales with family, focusing on giving Lyra a lovely Christmas. She’s two and all her traditions and memories will start this year, so myself and partner, Anna {actress Anna Lundberg}, want to make it as special as possible. Merry Christmas everyone!"

'The Last Train To Christmas' stars Michael Sheen and Nathalie Emmanuel.

'Last Train To Christmas' starts off in 1985, here with Michael Sheen as mullet man Tony and Nathalie Emmanuel as Sue. (Image credit: Sky )

What happened in 1985 when 'Last Train To Christmas' starts?

In the UK Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister and about to defeat the miners under their leader Arthur Scargill. James Bond film A View to A Kill was released, Madonna’s Like A Virgin topped the charts and the very first mobile phone calls were made in the UK. We also got to enjoy Live Aid, Boris Becker becoming the youngest winner to become men’s champion at Wimbledon and the first episode of EastEnders. Around the world, Ronald Reagan was sworn in for a second term as US President and Mikhail Gorbachev became Soviet leader.

In 1985 when 'Last Train To Christmas' begins, Margaret Thatcher is British Prime Minister.

In 1985 when 'Last Train To Christmas' begins, Margaret Thatcher is British Prime Minister. (Image credit: Getty)

What happened in 1995 when 'Last Train To Christmas' first jumps in time?

By 1995 the Conservative Party were still in power in Britain but now with John Major as Prime Minister,  although young Labour leader Tony Blair was giving him plenty of trouble as Leader of The Opposition. In November that year Princess Diana gave her infamous interview with Martin Bashir. Bond film GoldenEye was released and the year saw also hits from Oasis (Wonderwall), Take That (Back for Good) and Robson & Jerome (Unchained Melody).

Elsewhere, Bill Clinton was US president, Forrest Gump won Best Picture at the Oscars, and the world was gripped by the trial of OJ Simpson.

'The Last Train To Christmas' has a time jump to 1995 when Take That ruled the pop charts around the world.

'Last Train To Christmas' has a time jump to 1995 when Take That ruled the pop charts around the world. (Image credit: Getty)

'The Last Train To Christmas' — what else we know

Last Train To Christmas is written and directed by BAFTA and EMMY-award winner Julian Kemp. It explores the decisions we make, how they affect our lives and how in turn, these decisions change who we become. 

 Julia Stuart, Director of Original Film at Sky, says: “At Sky Cinema we are rounding off our Christmas slate for 2021 with a film starring top British talent including Michael Sheen and Nathalie Emmanuel. This project joins other Sky Original films for the season including A Boy Called Christmas and A Christmas Number One [see links below].” 

Last Train To Christmas is produced by Matt Williams for Future Artists Entertainment and Matt Wilkinson for Stigma Films. 

Nicholas Cannon
TV Content Director on TV Times, What's On TV and TV & Satellite Week

I'm a huge fan of television so I really have found the perfect job, as I've been writing about TV shows, films and interviewing major television, film and sports stars for over 25 years. I'm currently TV Content Director on What's On TV, TV Times, TV and Satellite Week magazines plus Whattowatch.com. I previously worked on Woman and Woman's Own in the 1990s. Outside of work I swim every morning, support Charlton Athletic football club and get nostalgic about TV shows Cagney & Lacey, I Claudius, Dallas and Tenko. I'm totally on top of everything good coming up too.