Sherlock, Bake Off, Doctor Who and Agatha Christie head up BBC’s Christmas TV schedule

Mrs Brown's Boys, Last Tango in Halifax, Call the Midwife, Outnumbered and Sports Personality of the Year are also headed to screens this December

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It’s just over a month until Christmas and what promises to be a stellar season of television as the BBC reveals a festive line-up that includes Doctor Who, Sherlock, another dose of Agatha Christie and the final ever episodes of Bake Off on the BBC.

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Paul, Mary, Mel and Sue will reunite one last time for The Great Christmas Bake Off – two yuletide specials each welcoming back four vintage bakers from past series to go head-to-head once again before the show’s move to Channel 4. 


Discover Alison Graham’s 11 festive picks for Christmas in this week’s Radio Times

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The raft of programming announced today also includes two Mrs Brown’s Boys specials headed up by Brendan O’Carroll’s Mammy, and the long-awaited return of Last Tango in Halifax – starring Anne Reid and Derek Jacobi – which is back for a festive two-parter after a nearly two-year hiatus. The series’ creator, Sally Wainwright, is also the mastermind behind To Walk Invisible – a drama telling the story of the three Bronte sisters.

A previously announced Doctor Who special will also light up the Christmas schedule with Peter Capaldi joined by guest star Matt Lucas, with a new series of Sherlock – featuring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman – expected to kick off on New Year’s Day.

After the success of last year’s And Then There Were None, the BBC have another Agatha Christie adaptation – The Witness for the Prosecution – starring Kim Cattrall, Toby Jones and Andrea Riseborough to entertain fans. And for young viewers, an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes will no doubt delight, as will an animated version of Raymond Briggs’ Ethel and Ernest. 

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The residents of Poplar go on tour this December as Call the Midwife jets to South Africa for a Christmas special starring Sinead Cusack, and Alan Davies is back as Jonathan Creek for a fresh investigation. 

Three years since they were last on screens, the Outnumbered gang return for a 40-minute special as the Brockman family carry out a special mission for granddad, while David Walliams welcomes Hugh Bonneville onto his sketch show, and Citizen Khan and Still Open All Hours are both back for festive episodes. 

David Suchet narrates a TV version of Peter Pan Goes Wrong showing the chaotic attempts of an amateur dramatics group to put on an ambitious pantomime, plus Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith return for Inside No 9: The Devil at Christmas with Rula Lenska and Jessica Raine. 

Brian Cox and Eric Idle will collaborate with the creators of the Spamalot musical to tell the story of the birth of the universe in just one hour, while fans of slow TV can sit back and enjoy a view from the driver’s seat of the Flying Scotsman. 

A Strictly tribute will celebrate outgoing judge Len Goodman. His fellow panellists Darcey Bussell and Brunio Tonioli will also be on screens profiling Margot Fonteyn and West Side Story, respectively.

The Real Marigold cast will go on tour to Florida and Japan across two Christmas specials on BBC2 with the channel also welcoming back Robot Wars for a yuletide instalment. 

And – of course – Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without Strictly’s festive special and Sports Personality on hand to cap off a stellar sporting year for GB athletes.

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Don’t miss Alison Graham’s pick of the festive highlights – across all the channels – and an exclusive interview with Doctor Who star Peter Capaldi, only in this week’s Radio Times, on sale in shops and on the newsstand