Christmas films can mean many things to many people.


For some, it’s shorthand for a Christmas classic, of which there will be no shortage on television this year, with the guarantee of It’s a Wonderful Life and Love Actually appearing somewhere in the schedules. For others, it means the opportunity to head to the cinema.

The release, after a 13-year wait, of the sequel to Avatar falls into the latter category.

Millions saw the original when it was first released in 2009 and it has made a barely believable $2.9 billion at the box office. But a lot has changed since then. As director James Cameron tells us in the latest Radio Times magazine, his sequel represents something of a gamble.

Avatar: the Way of Water Radio Times cover

He could be right, not just because the first film is a distant memory, but also because our cinema-going habits are no longer the same. In 2009, Netflix was still just sending out DVDs in the post; now it and other streaming services like Disney Plus have changed for ever the way we watch film and television.

In 2022, research showed that only 63% of all television viewed in the UK was shown on traditional TV. The rest came via streaming and video services, which routinely include films among their offerings.

Indeed, of the eight new films released for Christmas that we feature in this issue of Radio Times magazine, six are available on Netflix, Disney Plus or Apple TV+, or they will be soon. And the two that aren’t – Avatar: The Way of Water and the Whitney Houston biopic I Wanna Dance with Somebody – will surely make it to a streaming service at some point.

What this means for television is that the line between film and TV is increasingly blurred. And as our habits continue to change, the difference between the two will disappear.

So whatever your definition of a Christmas film, soon they will all end up being on television. Whether or not you think that is a good thing, the reality is that TV viewers will be the winners.

Also in this week’s Radio Times:

  • Simply fabulous Christmas recipes from Jamie Oliver, Michel Roux and Tom Kerridge.
  • Tom Burke and Holliday Grainger on returning to BBC One's Strike in a new case for Cormoran Strike and his sidekick Robin Ellacott.
  • Mark Bonnar and David Tennant discuss their new drama Litvinenko about the lethal poisoning of the Russian defector.
  • Speaking to Radio TimesView From My Sofa podcast, Jamie Oliver chats about his Christmas viewing habits and his 25-year TV career.

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To read more news, interviews and features, visit our Drama hub, or find something to watch now with our TV Guide.


For more from the biggest stars in TV, listen to the Radio Times View From My Sofa podcast.