Christmas films: the Radio Times daily guide

Your day-by-day companion to some of the best movies on the small screen this festive season




Film of the day: Tightrope (18) – 10:35pm-12:40am ITV1

Clint Eastwood stars as a detective on the trail of a serial killer, but what makes this film different is that his character is worried the two may share the same sexual tastes.

I, Robot (12) – 9:00-11:15pm Film4

Chicago, 2035: detective Will Smith is convinced a robot has killed its creator, even though it has been programmed never to harm humans. 

The Cruel Sea (PG) – 1:35-4:00pm Channel 4

Realistic, exciting, unsentimental but also deeply moving war movie following a group of men and women aboard the HMS Compass Rose.

Ratatouille (U) – 8:00-9:40pm BBC3

The director of The Incredibles brings you the story of a rat who dreams of becoming a chef in this Oscar-winning animation. Peter O’Toole is a hoot voicing an acerbic food critic.

The Dreamers (18) – 1:05-3:30am Film4

Paris, 1968: liberated French twins Eva Green and Louis Garrel invite American student Michael Pitt on an odyssey of physical and cultural exploration.


Film of the day: The Infidel (15) – 11:30pm-1:10am BBC1 [P]

An inspired and provocative concept from writer David Baddiel – a London Muslim discovers he was adopted and is in fact Jewish – gives British-Iranian comic Omid Djalili a rare leading role.

Rango (PG) – 6:00-8:00pm Sky Movies Premiere [P]

This is one weird western. Johnny Depp voices a self-questioning chameleon who winds up sheriff of a drought-stricken Wild West town in which owls play mariachi music and moles rob banks.

The Machurian Candidate (15) – 9:00-11:25pm More4

This update of the 1962 psychological thriller stars Denzel Washington as a US Army major who becomes the key to a complex political conspiracy.

Fifty Dead Men Walking (15) – 11:05pm-12:55am BBC2 [P]

Based on the autobiography of a police informant scaling the ranks of the IRA in the late 1980s, this thriller focuses on the effects The Troubles had on families.

Big Trouble in Little China (15) – 12:55-2:55am BBC2

John Carpenter’s cult favourite stars Kurt Russell as a truck driver drawn into a supernatural world beneath San Francisco’s Chinatown when he attempts to rescue his best friend’s fiancée from the clutches of an evil magician.



Film of the day: The Young Victoria (PG) – 9:00-10:40pm BBC2/BBC HD [P]

An elegant historical drama, in which Emily Blunt shines as the strong-willed princess caught in the middle of a right royal power struggle.

The Princess Dairies (U) – 1:45-4:00pm Channel 4/C4 HD

In another take on the Pygmalion story, clumsy schoolgirl Anne Hathaway finds out she’s next in line to the throne of a small European country.

Tomorrow Never Dies (12) – 10:35pm-12:45am ITV1/ITV1 HD

Pierce Brosnan has romantic and rough-house appeal, Teri Hatcher is a match for him, and the story has grip and plausibility. Sadly, the second half doesn’t quite sustain the momentum.

Blades of Glory (12) – 11:35pm-1:05am BBC1

Sports spoof starring Will Ferrell as a skating bad boy and Jon Heder as his nemesis, forced to enter the world championships as the sport’s first male/male pair.

No Country for Old Men (15) – 12 midnight-2:20am More4

Hitman Javier Bardem and sheriff Tommy Lee Jones go after James Brolin and some stolen drug money in this Oscar-winning Coen brothers thriller.


Film of the day: Die Hard 4.0 (12) – 9:00-11:30pm E4/E4 HD

John McClane (Bruce Willis) may be older, balder and crankier, but he’s
still the right man for the job when America is threatened by

The Nightmare before Christmas (PG) – 8:55-10:05pm BBC3

Burton co-wrote and produced this wonderfully weird animated vision of
the holiday season, packed with scary spooks, gags and dazzling decor.

Defiance (15) – 9:00-11:05pm BBC2 [P]

Daniel Craig leads a Jewish resistance movement against the Nazis in this worthy true-story Second World War drama.

Black Swan (15) – 10:00-11:55pm Sky Premiere

Darren Aronofsky’s dark, hypnotic study of obsession set in the world of ballet stars Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis.

The Boat That Rocked (15) – 10:05-11:10pm, 11:25pm-12:50am ITV1/ITV1 HD [P]

Curtis’s affectionate comedy about an offshore pirate radio station in
the Swinging Sixties stars Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Nighy and Rhys


Film of the day: Brüno (18) – 10:00-11:35pm Channel 4/C4 HD [P]

ever fearless Sacha Baron Cohen co-writes and stars as the preening gay
Austrian fashion journalist who decamps to the US in a no-holds-barred
spoof in the vein of Borat.

The NeverEnding Story (U) 9:50-11:30am ITV1/ITV1 HD

Bastian is drawn by a magical book into a wondrous alternative world
that is threatened by evil forces in the modern children’s classic.

Wit8:00-10:00pm Sky Atlantic 

Nichols’s adaptation of Margaret Edson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play,
starring Emma Thompson as a literary scholar battling ovarian cancer.

Gremlins (15) – 8:00-10:15pm ITV2/ITV2 HD

Zach Galligan is given a cuddly pet mogwai for Christmas and
unwittingly unleashes a viciously murderous swarm of little monsters.

Carrie (18) – 11:35pm-1:25am Channel 4/C4 HD

De Palma’s take on Stephen King’s bestseller stars Sissy Spacek as the
telekinetic Cinderella who turns her school prom into a bloody massacre.


Film of the day: Step Brothers (15) – 9:00-11:00pm Channel 5 [P]

Comedy stars Will Ferrell and John C Reilly have a great time as two middle-aged men who never grew up, gained any sense or even moved out of the family home.

Dave (15) – 10:35pm-12:35am ITV1/ITV1 HD

This delightful satire features a lovely performance from Kevin Kline as a presidential impersonator drafted in when the real president falls ill.

Heathers (18) – 9:00-10:55pm Horror Channel

Christian Slater and Winona Ryder resort to murder to bring down a high-school clique in this satirical black comedy.

Walk Hard: the Dewey Cox Story (15) – 11:00pm-12:50am Channel 5 [P]

This spoof biopic telling the story of singer Dewey Cox (John C Reilly) is a hilarious pastiche of films such as Walk the Line and Ray.

Rosemary’s Baby (18) – 12:05-2:30am Channel 4/C4 HD

Mia Farrow is a young wife caught up in a satanic plot as Roman Polanski expertly winds up the paranoia with spooky atmospherics and morbid humour.


Film of the day: The Bourne Supremacy (12) 10:35pm-12:35am ITV1/ITV1 HD

operative Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is dragged back into the murky
world of international espionage in an action thriller sequel that never
lets up.

Herbie Rides Again (U) – 9:35-11:00am BBC2

furious and very funny sequel to Disney’s The Love Bug, about the VW
Beetle with a mind of its own, starring Helen Hayes and Stefanie Powers.

Swiss Family Robinson (U) – 11:40am-2:10pm Channel 4/C4 HD

John Mills and Dorothy McGuire head the shipwrecked family in this lavish 1960 Disney adaptation of Johann Wyss’s novel. 

The Christmas List – 1:25-3:10pm Channel 5

fantasy drama in which perfume saleswoman Mimi Rogers mails a letter to
Santa and finds her wishes answered, if not quite how she expected.

Inception (12) – 8:00-10:30pm Sky Crime/Thriller

talented thief (Leonardo DiCaprio) uses hi-tech devices to invade other
people’s dreams and steal their secrets in Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi


Film of the day: Bad Santa (15) – 9:00-11:00pm Channel 5

Bob Thornton’s soused, abusive, thieving department-store Santa wishes
everyone an utterly wretched Christmas in this gleefully black and
bitter seasonal comedy.

Freaky Friday (U) – 11:30am-1:25pm Channel 4

An effervescent performance from child star Jodie Foster, who swaps bodies with her mother, Barbara Harris, for a day.

Groundhog Day (PG) – 4:55-7:00pm 5*

Murray gives one of the performances of his career as a cynical
weatherman doomed to repeat the same day for ever unless he can find
some answers.

Nanny McPhee & the Big Bang (U) – 8:00-10:00pm Sky Family

wart-faced Nanny Emma Thompson puts her magical powers to use helping a
mother (Maggie Gyllenhaal) whose husband is off fighting in the war.

Ghost Busters (PG) – 9:00-11:00pm Watch

Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Sigourney Weaver and Rick Moranis
are all excellent in the sharply-scripted supernatural comedy.

[P] – Premiere


Film of the day: Tamara Drewe (15) – 10:30pm-12:15am BBC2, BBC HD [P]

One-time Bond girl Gemma Arterton is the object of desire in this playful comedy drama, returning to the sleepy Dorset village of her birth after undergoing a transformation.

Nativity! (U) – 6:20-8:00pm BBC2, BBC HD [P]

Martin Freeman’s primary-school teacher becomes embroiled in rumours that a Hollywood movie company is coming to film his nativity play.

Miss Congeniality (12) – 6:45-9:00pm Watch

Sandra Bullock is determinedly unfeminine FBI agent Gracie Hart, drafted in as a beauty contestant after warnings of a bomb attack on a Miss United States competition.

Megamind (PG) – 8:00-9:45pm Sky Premiere [P]

Energetic and funny animated adventure in which supervillain Megamind has no superhero to battle. What a bore! So he creates one, which is a big mistake.

Le Donk & Scor-Zay-Zee (15) – 2:50-4:30am More4 [P]

Low-budget spoof documentary from Shane Meadows, starring Paddy Considine as a thick but likeable roadie and Dean Palinczuk as a white rapper.


Film of the day: Hairspray (PG) – 7:15-9:20pm Channel 4/C4 HD

Vibrant satirical musical comedy (based on the Broadway version of John Waters’s non-musical original). A rare chance to see John Travolta playing an overweight housewife.

The Muppet Christmas Carol (U) – 12 noon-1:40pm Channel 4/C4 HD

With Michael Caine as Scrooge, Kermit and Miss Piggy as the Cratchits and Gonzo as Charles Dickens, this is corking Christmas entertainment.

ET the Extra-Terrestrial (U) – 3:35-5:45pm ITV1/ITV1 HD

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, your heart will soar, and then you’ll cry all over again. This tale of a boy and his alien is magical film-making from Steven Spielberg.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

(PG) – 5:50-8:00pm BBC1/BBC1 HD

This ambitious adaptation of the best-known book in the Narnia series is an old-fashioned fantasy adventure that retains much of the allure of the original.

Son of Rambow (12) – 9:20-10:50pm BBC3 [P]

A nostalgia trip with a slightly surreal twist, and an ode to friendship, as schoolboys Bill Milner and Will Poulter make an action film inspired by Rambo.


Film of the day: Ratatouille (U) – 4:50-6:30pm BBC1/BBC1 HD [P]

The director of The Incredibles brings you the story of a rat who dreams of becoming a chef in this Oscar-winning animation. Peter O’Toole is a hoot voicing an acerbic food critic.

March of the Penguins (U) – 9:25-11:00am ITV1/ITV1 HD

Disarmingly simple nature documentary following a flock of emperor penguins as they make the arduous journey to their annual breeding ground.

Lawrence of Arabia (PG) – 2:45-7:00pm 5*

David Lean’s epic is majestic movie-making of a kind rarely seen any more, and there’s a star-making central performance from Peter O’Toole to boot.

Singin’ in the Rain (U) – 3:05-5:10pm More4

Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor star in one of the most exuberant, enjoyable and clever musicals ever, packed with great numbers.

Monsters vs Aliens (PG) – 3:10-4:35pm BBC1/BBC1 HD [P]

There’s plenty for film fans of all ages in this awesome animated comedy adventure about a group of mutants and freaks who step up to save the world.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (12) – 5:15-8:00pm Sky Movies Premiere [P]

The first half of the series’s epic final volume follows Harry, Ron and Hermione on an extended road trip punctuated by some stunning set pieces.


Film of the day: Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (PG) – 6:10-7:30pm BBC1/BBC1 HD [P]

The zoo animals voiced by the likes of Ben Stiller and Chris Rock get even more out of their depth here than in the first film, when they crash-land in Africa.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (PG) – 3:30-6:20pm ITV1/ITV1 HD

The second instalment in JK Rowling’s saga of the boy wizard is darker in mood and scarier than the first, featuring giant spiders, screaming plants and even a kiss. 

The Wizard of Oz (U) – 5:10-7:05pm Channel 5

A trip down the yellow brick road with Judy Garland and friends is always a treat in the magical musical fantasy that’s as fresh as ever.

The King’s Speech (12) – 10:30pm-12:30am Sky Movies Premiere

Colin Firth won the best actor Oscar for his moving performance as King George VI, who reluctantly engages the services of a speech therapist to cure his stammer.

Gladiator (15) – 11:15pm-2:05am ITV1/ITV1 HD

Russell Crowe won a best actor Oscar for his portrayal of Maximus Decimus Meridius, the Roman general cast out and seeking revenge in Ridley Scott’s masterpiece.


Film of the day: Tropic Thunder (15) 10:45pm-12:25am BBC1/BBC1 HD [P]

Robert Downey Jr steals the show in Ben Stiller’s very funny war-movie spoof, as a deluded film star who takes method acting way too far. And watch out for a jaw-dropping cameo by Tom Cruise.

Hotel for Dogs (U) – 11:00am-12:35pm BBC1/BBC1 HD

Frolicking canines and a hint of pathos combine to good effect in this family fare starring Kevin Dillon and Lisa Kudrow.

Bedtime Stories (PG) – 3:50-5:20pm BBC1/BBC1 HD [P]

Adam Sandler is surprisingly appealing in this agreeable fantasy comedy, playing a handyman whose wild stories begin to come true in strange ways.

How to Train Your Dragon (PG) – 6:20-8:00pm Sky Family

In this exciting and spectacular adaptation of Cressida Cowell’s children’s book, Viking teenager Hiccup befriends a wounded dragon named Toothless. 

King Kong (12) – 10:30-11:30pm, 11:45pm-2:10am ITV1/ITV1HD

Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson’s remake of the 1933 classic is funny, action-packed and ultimately touching. Jack Black, Naomi Watts and Adrien Brody star.


Film of the day: The Man Who Would Be King (PG) – 1:25-3:30pm BBC2

Former soldiers Sean Connery and Michael Caine try to hoodwink Afghan tribesmen: bad idea, marvellous adventure yarn.

Star Trek: First Contact (12) – 1:50-4:00pm Channel 4/C4 HD

In this first-rate adventure, the Borg travel back in time to sabotage that pivotal moment when Earth first made contact with an alien race.

Bedknobs and Broomsticks (U) – 4:05-6:00pm BBC1/BBC1 HD

Wartime witchcraft, fabulous musical numbers, hilarious animated sequences, scary special effects and wonderful turns from Angela Lansbury and David Tomlinson.

Green Zone (15) – 7:00-9:00pm Sky Crime/Thriller

The search for weapons of mass destruction following the 2003 Iraq invasion leaves US Army officer Matt Damon questioning his own side in this action thriller.

The Leopard Man (U) – 1:30-2:35am BBC2

Stylised, atmospheric black-and-white thriller. Death stalks the streets of a New Mexico town – but is it the escaped leopard or a human killer?


Film of the day: Dorian Gray (15) – 9:00-11:10pm Channel 4/C4 HD [P]

Ben Barnes stars in an elegant adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s novel about a young man seemingly unmarked by his dissolute life. But what’s that hiding in the attic?

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (PG) – 1:50-3:35pm BBC2

Steve Martin and Michael Caine are masterful in this frothy comedy about a pair of conmen in pursuit of rich women on the French Riviera.

Superman Returns (12) – 3:35-6:00pm BBC1

Bryan Singer resurrects the Man of Steel for a new millennium, with lead Brandon Routh carrying the preposterous plot with Reeves-like charm and Kevin Spacey adeptly sinister as Lex Luthor.

Confessions of a Shopaholic (PG) – 6:20-8:00pm BBC2 [P]

Isla Fisher gives a winning performance as an aspiring journalist and spendthrift in this fresh, if occasionally unconvincing, romantic comedy.

I Love You, Man (15) – 10:50pm-12:30am BBC1/BBC1 HD [P]

Paul Rudd tickles funny bones and tugs heartstrings in this occasionally coarse but surprisingly charming comedy about a groom in search of a best man.


Film of the day: Transsiberian (15) – 10:45pm-12:25am BBC2/BBC HD [P]

Ben Kingsley’s Russian detective investigates a killing, while US couple Woody Harrelson and Emily Mortimer embark on a train journey across Siberia in this Hitchcockian thriller. 

Clueless (12) – 11:40am-1:40pm Channel 4/C4 HD

Alicia Silverstone is a delight as Jane Austen’s Emma meets Beverly Hills 90210 in this smartly satirical yet warm-hearted romantic comedy.

Gulliver’s Travels (PG) – 6:30-8:00pm Sky Movies Premiere [P]

Jack Black stars as a modern-day Gulliver in this comedy fantasy that sorely lacks Swiftian satire but is otherwise good-natured fun.

Sky High (PG) – 10:20-11:55am BBC1/BBC1 HD

The son of superheroes Kurt Russell and Kelly Preston is sent to a secret academy to hone his powers – except they haven’t emerged yet, so he’s downgraded to “sidekick” status.

Borat (15) – 10:35pm-12:15am E4/E4 HD

Sacha Baron Cohen’s Kazakhstani journalist travels America learning about its culture in this hilarious, edgy mockumentary.


Film of the day: The Queen (12) – 4:05-6:05pm ITV1

Helen Mirren gives an Oscar-winning performance as the monarch, as Prime Minister Tony Blair (Michael Sheen) attempts to persuade her to attend the public funeral of Princess Diana.

Rear Window (PG) – 10:00am-12:15pm More4

Confined to his apartment with a broken leg, James Stewart’s photojournalist passes the time spying on his neighbours across the way – and becomes convinced one of them has murdered his wife.

Pride & Prejudice (U) – 1:45-4:05pm ITV1

Keira Knightley makes for a memorable leading lady as Jane Austen’s heroine Elizabeth Bennet, running rings around Matthew Macfadyen’s Mr Darcy.

The Lavender Hill Mob (U) – 3:10-4:50pm Film4

Ealing’s superb crime spoof stars Alec Guinness as the unassuming bank agent who decides to steal a million in gold bullion.

21 (12) – 4:35-6:55pm Channel 5 [P]

In what must be the ultimate “revenge of the nerds” story, six maths students from MIT crunch numbers at the gambling tables of Las Vegas – and nearly break the bank.


Film of the day: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (12) – 7:00-9:45pm ITV1

The mood darkens noticeably in this sixth episode of the franchise as the true nature of the perils facing Harry, Ron and Hermione becomes ever clearer.

Dean Spanley (U) – 12:40-2:15pm BBC2 [P]

Based on Lord Dunsany’s novel, this shaggy dog story effortlessly puts forward the notion that dapper clergyman Dean Spanley (Sam Neill) is the reincarnation of the beloved childhood pet of testy patriarch Horatio Fisk (Peter O’Toole).

Bolt (PG) – 5:30-7:00pm BBC1 [P]

Action-packed computer animation about the eponymous dog – voiced by John Travolta – born into showbiz, playing a canine superhero on a hit TV show he believes to be real.

WALL-E (U) – 7:00-8:30pm BBC3

A lonely robot left to compress rubbish long after the human race has abandoned the Earth gets some relief from his solitary existence with the arrival of EVE, a probe-droid looking for signs of life.

Broken Flowers (15) – 11:45pm-1:25am BBC2 

Bill Murray stars in Jim Jarmusch’s tale of a middle-aged, committed bachelor who goes on a road trip to visit his various ex-girlfriends after discovering he may have a son by one of them.


Film of the day: Revolutionary Road (15) – 10:00-11:50pm BBC2, BBC HD [P]

This portrayal of suburban US life during the postwar boom becomes a darkly unsettling period piece, as cracks start to appear in the marriage of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.

Race to Witch Mountain (PG) – 1:10-2:45pm BBC1 [P]

Disney retools one of its 1970s live-action pictures, with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s brawny cabbie coming to the aid of two interplanetary fugitives.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (12) – 6:05-8:00pm BBC1 

It’s 1957 and the veteran swashbuckling archaeologist is after a fabled artefact also being pursued by the Soviets, led by Cate Blanchett.

The Golden Compass (PG) – 6:50-9:00pm Film4

The first instalment of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy introduces us to young heroin Lyra who lives in a magical, neo-Victorian Oxford in a parallel universe where people wear their souls on the outside.

Point Break (18) – 11:30pm-1:25am BBC1

Director Kathryn Bigelow shows that action-adventure is not just he preserve of the lads in this hugely enjoyable blow-out starring Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze.


Film of the day: Casablanca (U) – 1:55-4:00pm Channel 4

reason this classic still endures is that it’s a timeless love story
wrapped inside a gripping wartime thriller. Humphrey Bogart gives a
career-best performance opposite Ingrid Bergman.

Dreamer (U) – 11:55am-1:55pm Channel 4

A foolhardy mission to save an injured racehorse heals long-standing family rifts in this feel-good drama starring Kurt Russell.

The Lady Eve (U) – 5:20-7:00pm Sky Classics

witty masterpiece from the inimitable Preston Sturges, starring Henry
Fonda as a wealthy young man caught up in a con artist’s scheme and
Barbara Stanwyck as the grifter’s daughter.

American Pie Presents Band Camp (15) – 10:35pm-12:15am ITV1

offering from the teen franchise with only Eugene Levy and a grown up
“Shermanator” around to give it any semblance of credibility.

Kung Fu Hustle (15) – 12:20-2:00am Channel 4

CGI-enhanced stunt-fuelled martial arts comedy. As the notorious Axe
Gang threatens a neighbourhood in 1940s Shanghai, unlikely heroes step
up to take them on.


Film of the day: Mamma Mia! (PG) – 8:00-10:10pm ITV1

big-screen version of the stage musical based on the hits of Abba, and
starring Meryl Streep, Julie Walters and Pierce Brosnan, was the
highest-grossing UK film of all time until Avatar. 

The Love Bug (U) – 11:40am-1:50pm Channel 4

original outing for Herbie, the VW Beetle with a mind of its own. Dean
Jones as his racing driver owner, and David Tomlinson as Jones’s
ruthless rival, work wonders to stop the car stealing the show. 

Beowulf (12) – 9:00-11:15pm Channel 5 

Jolie, Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins and Brendan Gleeson are brought to
the screen via “performance capture” technology in this spectacular
animated reworking of the English language’s oldest surviving poem. 

Practical Magic (12) – 10:45pm-12:35am ITV1

sisters Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman are descended from witches and
determined to dispel the curse that sees the men they fall in love with
meet an untimely demise.

Tombstone (15) – 11:45pm-1:45am BBC1


take on the Wyatt Earp legend never shifts out of top gear as Kurt
Russell and Val Kilmer contribute to a viscerally thrilling and generous
tribute to the western.