The best shows and specials on TV this Christmas

Includes Doctor Who, Call The Midwife, Mary Berry’s Christmas Party and Torvill And Dean...

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We’d love to say Christmas is all about spending time with family, playing games around a fireplace and sharing stories.

But the reality is most of us spend December 25 a bit sozzled, so full we can’t move and in front of our favourite friend – the TV.

And we wouldn’t have it any other way!

Tess Daly, Claudia Winkleman - (C) BBC - Photographer: Leigh Keily
Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman will host a Strictly Christmas special (Credit: BBC)

Read more: Poundland shocks with X-rated elves advert for Christmas

Here’s our pick of the best festive TV shows on over Christmas and New Year, including old favourites such as the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special, Doctor Who and Call The Midwife, as well as some exciting new dramas.

Torvill And Dean, ITV

This one-off drama stars Poppy Lee Friar and Will Tudor as Olympic heroes Jayne Tovill and Christopher Dean.

From their first meeting as teenagers in Nottingham to winning Olympic Gold in 1984, this dramatises the true story of the nation’s most famous ice skating duo.

Stephen Tompkinson, Anita Dobson and Jaime Winstone also star.

Read more: When is the right time to tell kids the truth about Father Christmas?

Call The Midwife, BBC1

The hit show returns for its annual festive offering, this time with newcomer Sister Mildred – played by Harry Potter star Miriam Margolyes – who arrives unexpectedly at Nonnatus House with four Chinese orphans.

Meanwhile, the nuns travel to the Mother House to elect a new mother superior and Sister Julienne is the obvious replacement…

Trixie, played by Helen George, returns.

The ABC Murders, BBC1

This drama is based on the classic 1936 Agatha Christie novel and stars John Malkovich as Hercule Poirot for the first time.

Rupert Grint also stars as Inspector Crome, while Game Of Thrones’ Tara Fitzgerald is Lady Hermione.

The story is set in 1933, when a killer travels the length and breadth of Britain via the railway network.

John Malkovich is Hercule Poirot (Credit: BBC)

Mary Berry’s Christmas Party, BBC1

This festive season, Mary will open her kitchen to four celebrities, including BBC1’s news anchor Huw Edwards, Britain’s fastest-ever female athlete, Dina Asher-Smith, Poldark actress Eleanor Tomlinson and comedian Joe Lycett.

Our invite must have been lost in the post!

Watership Down, BBC1

This two-part TV adaptation of the famous 1972 novel written by Richard Adams boasts an all-star cast of voices, including James McAvoy, Nicholas Hoult, Gemma Arterton and Olivia Colman.

Sam Smith has recorded an original song for the animation.

Watership Down will introduce another generation to the furry tale (Credit: BBC)

Les Miserables, BBC

A six-part adaptation of Victor Hugo’s 19th century classic will tell the story of Jean Valjean and Javert’s cat-and-mouse relationship against the epic backdrop of France at a time of civil unrest.

The series sees Dominic West portray fugitive jailbird Jean, David Oyelowo as dogged policeman Javert and Lily Collins as Fanzine, with TV fave Olivia Colman also starring.

No songs in this one.

Dominic West stars in Les Miserables (Credit: BBC)

The Long Song, BBC1

This three-part series stars TV favourite Lenny Henry.

Set during the final days of slavery in 19th century Jamaica, the story follows the strong-willed, young slave July on a plantation owned by her hateful mistress Caroline Mortimer.

Luther, BBC1

The hugely anticipated 5th series of Luther starring Idris Elba will kick off over Christmas.

Luther series 5
Not exactly Christmassy but still very good… (Credit: BBC)

A teaser trailer put out by the BBC in early November showed the detective facing a gruesome interrogation at the hands of gangster George.

George’s son has been kidnapped and Luther becomes involved in the dangerous hunt to track him down.

Take That and Us, BBC1

Take That's Gary Barlow, Howard Donald and Mark Owen
Take That’s legacy explored (Credit: BBC)

To celebrate 30 years in the charts, Take That and Us will feature fans from all over the country and beyond sharing their stories of how the most successful boy band in UK chart history touched their lives – and in some cases, even changed their world completely.

Zog, BBC1

Another Julia Donaldson book is adapted after the success of The Gruffalo, Room On The Broom, Stick Man and The Highway Rat.

The one-off animated special is based on accident-prone Zog, a dragon struggling to graduate from dragon school – until he meets a reluctant princess.

Sir Lenny Henry narrates and Kit Harrington voices Sir Gadabout.

Zog: Definitely one for the kids (Credit: BBC)

Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special, BBC1

Six celebs return to dance it out for this festive edition of the hit show.

This year the leading ladies are Anita Rani, Ann Widdecombe and Caroline Flack, and the gentlemen returning to the ballroom are Aston Merrygold, Jake Wood and Michael Vaughan.

Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman return to host, as do judges Shirley Ballas, Darcey Bussell, Bruno Tonioli and Craig Revel Horwood.

Doctor Who, BBC1

Doctor Who fans won’t have their usual Christmas Day fix this year, instead the festive episode will be on New Year’s Day.

As the New Year begins, a terrifying evil is stirring, from across the centuries of Earth’s history.

The Doctor, Ryan, Graham and Yaz return home, but will they be able to overcome the threat to planet Earth?

Doctor Who Christmas New year special
Doctor Who will be aired on New Year’s Day (Credit: BBC)

Love Island: The Christmas Reunion, ITV

This Love Island reunion will see Caroline Flack reunite 19 of its most talked about islanders as they gather for the ultimate festive get together.

Bake Off Christmas Special, C4

Prue Leith and Paul Hollywood will be back for a festive edition of the show.

Mrs Brown’s Boys will also be back for two festive specials, as will Bad Move starring Jack Dee, Hold The Sunset and Not Going Out.

Meanwhile David Walliams’ The Midnight Gang has also been adapted for TV, and The Inbetweeners will be back for a 10th birthday party special.

Top Of The Pops will be back, hosted by Fearne Cotton and Clara Amfo, who will review 2018’s year in music.

Paul O’Grady: For The Love of Dogs Christmas Special will be airing sometime over the festive period on ITV.

It goes without saying that the soaps are also promising more blood, sweat and tears than an Anthony Joshua boxing match.

What festive TV show are you most looking forward to watching? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page @EntertainmentDailyFix and let us know what you think!

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