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Couple watching Christmas TV

What to watch on TV over the holidays

With everyone off from work and school, the week between Christmas and New Year is the perfect time to bring the family together to watch some telly. We're putting together our top picks for what to watch this year on TV.

Although you may be sick of Christmas adverts and reruns, there's no denying that watching Christmas telly brings the family together. With a host of options available across a multitude of services, we've narrowed down the top Christmas films and specials to watch on TV across free-to-air channels, plus information on Sky Cinema's Christmas channel this year. Elsewhere, we're rounding up our top picks for sports and streaming services over the holidays.

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BBC Christmas TV

The Beebs is the top pick for Christmas TV as the channel's offering a wealth of Chrimbo TV, including Christmas specials, miniseries, historical dramas and reality TV.

Doctor Who

It's Twelve's final outing in this Christmas special as Peter Capaldi officially passes the torch to Jodie Whittaker. The special, named Twice Upon a Time, airs on Christmas on BBC One.

Little Women

Little Women on BBC

Based on the classic coming-of-age novel by Louisa May Alcott, Little Women will be a three-part series following the March sisters during the American Civil War. It will air on BBC One starting on Boxing Day.

Call the Midwife

Call the Midwife is returning next year, but before the new series starts, the BBC will be airing a Christmas special. Set during the freezing cold winter of 1963, the Call the Midwife Christmas special will be shown on Christmas on BBC One.

Strictly Come Dancing

Strictly Come Dancing Christmas 2017

Strictly fans are in for a Christmas treat with two different programmes on. For those following the current series, the final is set to air on 16 December on BBC One.

Add some sparkle to your Christmas hols with the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special. Past favourites — including Kimberley Walsh and Judy Murray — are returning to try to win the Silver Star trophy on BBC One this Christmas day.

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ITV Christmas TV

ITV has a week of Christmas programming lined up, including films, miniseries and reality TV specials.

Victoria

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert are widely credited with creating a great deal of our Christmas traditions, so this episode should be suitably festive. The two-hour episode airs on ITV on Christmas.

Birds of a Feather

Birds of a Feather Christmas special on ITV

Ahead of a new series in 2018, Birds of a Feather is returning for a Christmas special on ITV with the main trio all reprising their roles. It airs on 18 December on ITV.

Maigret in Montmarte

Rowan Atkinson is back as 1950s French detective Jules Maigret, this time investigating the murder of a dancing girl. Watch it on Christmas Eve on ITV.

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Channel 4 Christmas TV

Channel 4 has loads of great programmes lined up for the hols, such as game shows, documentaries and variety programmes.

The Great Christmas Bake Off

Great Christmas Bake Off with Selasi on Channel 4

The Great British Bake Off is back with two Christmas specials this year. The first episode, The Great Christmas Bake Off, brings back fan favourites Selasi, Beca, Paul and Val, while The Great Festive Bake Off features Bejamina, Rav, Sandy and Rob. The first airs on Christmas on Channel 4, but you'll have to wait until New Year's Day to watch the second.

Big Fat Quiz of Everything 2018

Jimmy Carr Big Fat Quiz of Everything 2018

Jimmy Carr's back to celebrate the end of another year. He'll be joined by a panel of celebrity teams to go over everything that happened over the past year. The special airs Boxing Day on Channel 4.

Travel Man: 48 Hours in Hong Kong

Richard Ayoade in Travel Man 48 Hours in Hong Kong

Richard Ayoade's a likely panelist for Big Fat Quiz of Everything — but just in case he's not and you want to get your Ayoade fix, Channel 4 is airing a special Travel Man episode co-starring Jon Hamm with the pair off for a weekend in Hong Kong. It airs right before Big Fat Quiz of Everything on Boxing Day.

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Christmas TV guide

Avoid clashes with our handy guide of what's on when.

Date Time Programme Channel
16 December 18:30 Strictly Come Dancing Finals BBC One
18 December 21:00 Birds of a Feather Christmas Special ITV
24 December 20:30 Maigret in Montmarte ITV
25 December 17:30 Doctor Who Christmas Special BBC One
25 December 18:30 Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special BBC One
25 December 19:40 Call the Midwife Christmas Special BBC One
25 December 19:40 The Great Christmas Bake Off Channel 4
25 December 21:00 Victoria Chistmas Special ITV
26 December 20:00 Little Women (part one) BBC One
26 December 20:00 Travel Man: 48 Hours in Hong Kong Channel 4
26 December 21:00 Big Fat Quiz of Everything 2018 Channel 4
27 December 20:00 Little Women (part two) BBC One
28 December 20:00 Little Women (part three) BBC One
1 January 19:40 The Great Festive Bake Off Channel 4

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Sky Cinema Christmas 2017

Sky Cinema Christmas 2017

Sky Cinema's Christmas channel is an annual holiday highlight, and this year is filled with festive films, including classic Christmas movies, family-friendly fare and some irreverent holiday picks, too. Everyone's bound to find something to watch.

Films this year include:

  • Home Alone 2: Lost in New York
  • The Grinch
  • Fred Claus
  • Get Santa
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • Disney's A Christmas Carol
  • The Polar Express
  • It's a Wonderful Life
  • The Nativity Story
  • Scrooged
  • The Muppet Christmas Carol
  • Almost Christmas
  • Prancer
  • Trading Places
  • Love Actually
  • The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause
  • Bad Santa
  • I'll Be Home for Christmas
  • Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas
  • The Swan Princess Christmas
  • White Christmas
  • Snow Day
  • Home Alone 3
  • Christmas with the Kranks
  • One Magic Christmas
  • Pete's Christmas
  • This Christmas
  • The Magic Reindeer
  • Batman Returns
  • The Three Dogateers
  • Trapped in Paradise
  • A Christmas Carol
  • Santa's Little Helper
  • Turbulence

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When does Sky Christmas channel start in 2017?

Sky Cinema Christmas started early this year — 8 November. Sky Cinema is also launching Sky Cinema Classics on 18 December and Sky Cinema Musicals — an annual favourite — on 27 December.

How can I watch Sky Cinema?

Most providers offer long-term and short-term Sky Cinema add-ons to basic TV packages. Alternatively, you can pick up a NOW TV Sky Cinema pass for a month to get access to all the festive fare.

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