Plan your Christmas Day TV viewing
PUBLISHED: 13:26 22 December 2017 | UPDATED: 15:49 22 December 2017
Reserve your place on the sofa - here are 10 of the biggest shows on Christmas Day, from the big three soaps to Strictly, Doctor Who to Victoria, Call the Midwife to the Highway Rat and a little bit of baking for good measure.
1) Victoria, ITV, Christmas Day, 9pm: It’s the first ever special for the series and seeing as Prince Albert practically invented Christmas (kind of) it should be a cracker. Albert brought the tradition of the tree from Germany and he liked to skate on frozen lakes (and once caught a sleigh to Slough, which I can’t believe hasn’t become a lyric to a carol). Expect snow, candlelight, feasting and Prince Ernest laying off syphilis chat when he spends the festive season with love interest Harriet, Duchess of Sutherland. That’s one gift she won’t thank him for.
2) The Great Christmas Bake Off, Channel 4, Christmas Day, 7.45pm: There are two seasonal offerings from C4 this year: the aforementioned and The Great Festive Bake Off – clearly inspiration had run dry when it came to programme naming. Bakers will be returning from previous series to take on challenges in a tent – in other words, it’s the same as usual, but with added rum essence and icing sugar. What on earth will (the First) Noel wear? In my day, goths didn’t ‘do’ Christmas because it was illegal to be happy.
3) Doctor Who, BBC1, 5.30pm: They had me at ‘enchanted glass people steal their victims from frozen time’, but I’d have also tuned in to see the space/time continuum rocked by the regeneration of Peter Capaldi’s Doctor into the thirteenth Doctor, played by Jodie Whittaker, who is A LADY AND NOT A MAN. Man Doctor teams up with David Bradley’s First Doctor and then reunite with companion Bill (Pearl Mackie) before regenerating into Woman Doctor – keep up there at the back. Mark Gatiss also appears as a Captain plucked from death in a World War One trench to play his part in the Doctor’s story. Let’s hope it’s a fitting swan song for the fabulous Capaldi.
4) EastEnders, BBC1, Christmas Day, 9pm: Christmas Day wouldn’t be complete for me without a visit to Walford – last year we were lulled into a false sense of security by a festive visit to Walford last year that, for once, didn’t involve death, divorce or disaster. The most distressing thing that happened in the festive episode that included a power cut that invoked the Blitz spirit, the rescue of Dot from a lonely dinner for one and a good old sing-song round the Old Joanna with Kathy leading a ‘Bring Me Sunshine’ knees-up was the return of Michelle Fowler Mk II. This year, EastEnders boss John Yorke has promised a return to form: “The really big story on Christmas Day, and one of the biggest stories we have ever told on EastEnders, will revolve around Max and how his past actions all come back to haunt him in the most powerful and appalling way.” Hooray! Christmas has been restored!
5) Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special, 6.30pm, BBC1: Judy Murray loosens up in the Charleston, Jeremy Vine flies in for a performance (quite literally) and the judges actually make it on to the dance floor to trip the light fantastic. Other celebs taking to the floor include Robbie Savage, Katie Derham, Kimberley Walsh and Colin Jackson. There are two group routines featuring all the couples, a trip to Buckingham Palace for a tea dance hosted by the Duchess of Cornwall and music by the Kaiser Chiefs.
6) Call the Midwife, 7.40pm, BBC1: It’s pantomime time in Poplar and the nuns are preparing for Jack and the Beanstalk (isn’t that what causes all those babies?). Trixie and Christopher aren’t in the panto spirit, however, because they’re off skiing in Switzerland. But then it snows. And snows. And Snows. And the babies don’t stop coming, even if the trains do. There’s laughter, joy, tragedy and wimples. Everything you need for Christmas.
7) The Highway Rat, 4.45pm, BBC1: The sugar-obsessed Highway Rat demands pastries, puddings, chocolate and cake from every creature he meets in this fabulous adaptation based on Julia Donaldson’s book. This rapacious rodent swashbuckles his way through the animal kingdom until he meets a wily duck, who gives him the bird.
8) Emmerdale, ITV, 5.50pm: Emmerdale has bravely decided to give the ‘novelty episode’ a spin and this bizarre outing to the Dales involves Robert being trapped in his very own nightmare which series producer Iain MacLeod described thus: “think Groundhog Day, and A Christms Carol with a little nod to the film Don’t Look Now and that’s been our approach to the Christmas Day episode”. In addition to Robert continually waking on Christmas morning to a different reality – as you do – there’s also a dose of the Dingles. That’ll clear up if you use a special ointment, apparently. Should we be watching out for a dwarf in a red coat?
9) The Upstart Crow, BBC2, 8.25pm: There’s a slightly extended, ooer, version of the Tudor chucklefest this evening as David Mitchell’s Will Shakespeare gets ready to perform Eighth Night in front of Queen Elizabeth I, who happens to be Emma Thompson. Back in Stratford, the Shakespeares are planning to enjoy a quiet Christmas, but find themselves inundated with uninvited guest, including Will’s arch enemy Robert Greene, who claims to have changed his wicked ways.
10) Coronation Street, ITV, 8pm: In comparison to a never-ending Christmas Day (imagine THAT in Walford), the Coronation Street festive special involves little more than Peter Barlow bundling a vicar into the boot of a car and threatening to kill him. We’ve all felt that way by 8pm on December 25, admit it.