Christmas 2013: best TV on today, Christmas Day

Watch Strictly Come Dancing, Call the Midwife, Doctor Who, Downton Abbey, The Tractate Middoth, Mrs Brown's Boys, Man Down and For the Love of Dogs on Wednesday 25 December

The Snowman and the Snowdog – 2:10pm, Channel 4


This repeat of last year’s update on Raymond Briggs’s classic snowy tale sees a new family move into the original house. Young Billy discovers the Snowman’s hat and scarf and builds his own version, plus a Snowdog with odd socks as cute ears. 

The Queen – 3:00pm, BBC1

For some it’s tradition, for others it’s not, but the Queen’s annual Christmas Day address is a firm fixture of the television schedules. Last year she spoke to the nation and the Commonwealth about the importance of family and finding hope in adversity, but what will this year have in store?  

Strictly Come Dancing – 5:00pm, BBC1

Now the main competition is out the way, it’s time for Strictly’s Christmas crown to be granted to one lucky celebrity and their partner. Rufus Hound has already demonstrated his rhythm, dressing as Cheryl Cole in a memorable Let’s Dance for Comic Relief performance, but will elegant Rochelle Humes steal the title? Rivalling the pair are Sara Cox, Matt Goss, Elaine Paige and EastEnders’ Ricky Norwood, plus a stunning winter wonderland sequence from the pros.

Paul O’Grady: For the Love of Dogs at Christmas  – 5:15pm, ITV

A dog is for life, not just for Christmas but Battersea Dogs & Cates Home is always overrun during the festive period. Paul O’Grady returns to help out with Phyllis, a grumpy toothless terrier, 12 alsatian pups and a three-legged Staffie. It doesn’t take rocket science to work out why this programme continues to be so popular… 

Call the Midwife – 6:15pm, BBC1

Much like Downton Abbey, last year’s Call the Midwife special was gloomy and sad, but things are lightening up as we return to Poplar for a glass of Babysham and a few Christmas carols. Although attentions soon switch from Bernadette’s imminent wedding to the lovely Dr Turner with the discovery of an unexploded bomb in London’s East End. 

Emmerdale, Coronation Street, EastEnders – 6:15pm, 7:30pm, ITV, 8:30pm, BBC1

The soaps are a hive of activity this Christmas… Emmerdale sees a desperate Declan setting fire to Home Farm, Corrie brings us Nick slapping Leanne hard around the face, and poor David Wicks is more than a little winded when he’s hit by a car in EastEnders. Oh, and not forgetting the arrival of Danny Dyer’s Mick Carter – the new landlord of the Queen Vic who will no doubt cause a stir in Albert Square. 

Doctor Who – 7:30pm, BBC1

The Doctor’s 800th episode sees the sad departure of Matt Smith whose regeneration is shrouded in mystery, especially since he was bumped along to the 13th incarnation in last month’s 50th anniversary special. As fans are no doubt aware, most Time Lords die after their 13th body expires but with Peter Capaldi waiting in the wings, we’re pretty convinced Steven Moffat has found a loophole.

Downton Abbey – 8:30pm, ITV

Here’s to an altogether sunnier Christmas special after Matthew’s untimely demise as the Crawleys and their household decamp to London for the Season and Lady Rose’s debutante ball. Cora’s brassy mama Martha (Shirley MacLaine) and her wayward brother Harold (Paul Giamatti) make an appearance, meanwhile Mary continues to juggle her two dashing suitors. 

Bear’s Wild Weekend with Stephen Fry – 8:30pm, Channel 4

Ultra fit Bear Grylls tackles the Dolomite mountains in Italy with… Stephen Fry, who gets out of breath just packing for the trip. Their two-day excursion includes helicopter rides, climbing waterfalls and abseiling down a towering cliff face – plus some frank conversation over pine needle tea and ant sandwiches. 

Mrs Brown’s Boys – 9:30pm, BBC1

Love her or hate her, Agnes is back on screens not once but twice this Christmas as Brendan O’Carroll’s family sitcom returns after hiatus. The first of two episodes features a motorised and remote-controlled Christmas tree and an evening of party games, before a moving scene between Agnes and young Bono (played by O’Carroll’s real-life grandson, Jamie). 

The Tractate Middoth – 9:30pm, BBC2

Mark Gatiss is best known for writing and starring in episodes of Doctor Who and Sherlock, but tonight he makes his directorial debut with The Tractate Middoth – the BBC’s adaptation of MR James’s ghostly short story. Sacha Dhawan plays Mr Garrett – a student working at a university library who goes in search of a mysterious book requested by a persistent visitor, a quest that drags him into a family feud with terrifying consequences. 

Man Down – 10:35pm, Channel 4

Inbetweeners star Greg Davies’s comedy vehicle went down a storm with viewers earlier this year and was rewarded with a Christmas special which sees his oafish teacher Dan attempt to impress headmistress Amy by putting on a Christmas play. Meanwhile, his menacing father (Rik Mayall) inaugurates the “12 scares of Christmas” – judging from previous episodes, we should expect the worst.