Radio Times names The Office finale the best Christmas TV moment of all time

Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's mockumentary beat The Good Life, Morecambe & Wise and Only Fools and Horses to the festive crown

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‘Tis the season when our favourite programmes receive a festive makeover and we grow nostalgic for the classics of yesteryear. To celebrate, Radio Times’ team of critics have compiled their top ten Christmas TV moments and voted The Office’s finale their all-time favourite.

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In a list dominated by comedy, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant’s mockumentary came out top thanks to the two-part finale that saw former receptionist Dawn (Lucy Davis) and office worker Tim (Martin Freeman) finally kiss after two series of will-they-won’t-they. It was first broadcast on BBC1 in 2003, and was the last time fans would see Gervais’ cringe-inducing boss David Brent on British TV until he made a return in a sketch for Comic Relief a decade later.

The Good Life’s 1977 Christmas special was the runner-up. First broadcast on Boxing Day, the Leadbetters are forced to spend Christmas Day with their back-to-basics neighbours the Goods after Margo sends back all their Christmas supplies in a fit of pique. Morecambe & Wise’s 1976 Christmas special, featuring their parody of Gene Kelly’s Singin’ The Rain, completed the critics’ top three Christmas TV moments of all time.

Ben Preston, editor of Radio Times, says of the list: “What we all really want for Christmas is TV that entertains us – and it’s those moments of shared joy that linger longest in the memory.”

The only non-comedies to make the cut are soap operas. EastEnders’ infamous 1986 Christmas episode, in which Queen Vic landlord Den Watts served wife Angie with divorce papers is eighth on the list; while Hilda Ogden’s departure from Coronation Street in 1987, concluding 23 years on the cobbles, is just behind in ninth place.

Wallace and Gromit’s second festive outing – 1993’s The Wrong Trousers, in which the unlikely sleuths attempt to capture notorious penguin criminal, Feathers McGraw – was the only animated programme on the list, coming fourth.

Other programmes on the list include Ali G’s Alternative Christmas Message from 1999; Only Fools and Horses 13th Christmas special, Heroes and Villains, when Del Boy and Rodney memorably arrive at a wake dressed as Batman and Robin; The Vicar of Dibley’s 1996 special, The Christmas Lunch Incident, in which Geraldine reluctantly agrees to attend four different lunches on Christmas Day; and 1992’s Merry Christmas Mr Bean, where Rowan Atkinson’s hapless hero ends up with his head stuck in a turkey.

See the full list below. 

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Radio Times Top Ten Christmas moments

1. The Office Christmas special (2003)

2. The Good Life 1977 Christmas Special

3. Morecambe & Wise 1976 Christmas Special  “Singin’ in the rain”

 4. Wallace & Gromit: The Wrong Trousers (1995) 

 5. Ali G’s alternative Xmas message (1999)

6. Only Fools & Horses – Heroes and Villains (1996)

7. The Vicar of Dibley  – The Christmas Lunch Incident (1996)

8. EastEnders: Den and Angie divorce papers (1986)

9. Coronation Street: Hilda Ogden leaves  (1987)

10. Mr Bean head stuck in turkey (1992)