The best children’s TV to watch this Christmas

From Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes to Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman - this Yule Tide there's plenty to delight youngsters on our screens


We’re Going on a Bear Hunt


7.30pm, Christmas Eve on Channel 4

This delightful animation of Michael Rosen’s adventure story is brought to life by the voices of Rosen and Olivia Colman. Intrepid siblings Stan, Katie, Rosie, Max – and Rufus the dog – go off with their dad in search of bears, while their mum goes to visit their grandma. It’s proper warm and fuzzy Christmas viewing that pulls on the heart strings.

Revolting Rhymes

6.30pm, Boxing Day on BBC1

Roald Dahl’s witty, sinister – and at times even satirical – tales of the unexpected will whisk you away with rewrites of stories like Red Riding Hood and Snow White. The collection of six rhymes, which retell classic fairytales with different twists and endings, were written by Dahl in 1982. The stellar voice cast includes David Walliams and Rob Brydon.

Arthur Christmas

5.40pm, Saturday 17 December on Channel 4

When a small girl’s Christmas present is forgotten, Santa’s son Arthur (voiced by James McAvoy) sets out to deliver it, causing all kinds of chaos along the way. McAvoy is in good company with Hugh Laurie, Jim Broadbent and Imelda Staunton. 

Father Christmas

8.40am, Christmas Eve on Channel 4

Find out what Father Christmas gets up to on the other 364 days of the year with this 1991 animation of the Raymond Briggs tale. Mel Smith voices this no-nonsense Father Christmas who likes to get all the present malarkey done and then go home and put his feet up. Quite right, too.  

The Snowman

4.45pm, Christmas Eve on Channel 4

This beautiful classic follows a little boy who builds a snowman that comes to life, and is essential Christmas viewing. It’s another Raymond Briggs creation, and sees the boy and his snowman fly off together on a night of adventure and song. The Snowman and the Snowdog follows straight afterwards.

Doctor Who 

5.45pm, Christmas Day on BBC1

This is one for older kids and adults, and as writer Stephen Moffatt explained to RT: “It’s about a little boy who is accidentally given superpowers and happens to be a comics fan, so he decides he should be a superhero in his adult years.” What’s more, the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) has Matt Lucas as Nardole for a sidekick.

Ethel & Ernest

7.30pm, Wednesday 28 December on BBC1

In what is by far Raymond Briggs’ most personal story to date, this one from 1998 follows the screenwriter’s parents – a lady’s maid and a milkman voiced by Brenda Blethyn and Jim Broadbent – through their lives in south-west London.

Stick Man 

3.40pm, Friday 30 December on BBC1


Julia Donaldson’s picture-book character is caught up in a very eventful animated adventure as he tries to get home in time for Christmas. Voiced by the likes of Martin Freeman, Hugh Bonneville, Russel Tovey and Sally Hawkins.