The best TV shows to watch on BBC iPlayer this Christmas

From Blue Planet II to The Musketeers, Uncle to Sense and Sensibility, BBC is gifting us over 100 archive classics to binge on this December

BBC iPlayer christmas 2018

Christmas is almost upon us once more, a time where families across the country come together for a special festive celebration. But don’t worry, you’ve now got the perfect reason to ignore yours – the BBC has just announced they’re soon dropping over 100 box sets on iPlayer.


From 12th December a variety of drama, factual, comedy and kids shows from the BBC vaults will be available to watch.

And that means a lot of choice. So, to make things easier you can see our best picks from each genre first or scroll on down for the full (and very long) list.


House of Cards

No, not that one. This is the 1990 miniseries that inspired the Netflix hit, a UK-set political thriller that follows Francis Urquhart, a fictional Tory Chief Whip as he attempts to grab power.

A show packed with twists, it was written by Andrew Davies, the man behind BBC’s upcoming Les Misérables adaptation.

The Musketeers

Never taking itself too seriously, this drama set on the streets of 17th-century Paris gives a fun, contemporary and sometimes brilliantly silly take on Alexandre Dumas’ classic story of the fighting trio.

Stars Tom Burke (who went on to play the lead in Strike) and Luke Pasqualino (Our Girl).


Life and Death Row

Okay, it’s hardly a show packed with festive cheer, but this critically-applauded BBC3 doc-series explores America’s murky capital punishment process through the eyes of young people whose lives have been shaped by it.

It’s a gloriously unflinching guide to a nation’s moral maze.

The Blue Planet

David Attenborough managed to launch a war against plastic after Blue Planet II aired in 2017, but we forget this feat was built on the achievements on the show’s predecessor, 2001’s The Blue Planet.

Although the eight-part series is light on the environmental dangers facing the ocean, it still explores the hardships and wonders of water life in everything from frozen seas to the unknown depths of the ocean.



This under-appreciated sitcom starring Nick Helm follows unemployed sloucher and musician Andy after he’s forced to babysit his nephew Errol, a socially-awkward and nerdy 12-year-old – imagine a cross between Nicholas Hoult’s character from About a Boy and a laugh-track-free version of Sheldon from Big Bang.

Stewart Lee

Angry, embittered and slightly smug, stand-up comedian Stewart Lee (well, Stewart Lee’s apparent on-stage persona) delivers doses of spot-on scepticism about the unquestioned mediocrity of modern life. Particularly modern comedy: Lee brilliantly takes aims at many Mock The Week stars in his sets, deconstructing and playing on the nuts and bolts of their stand-up.

Unmissable comedy – if you can handle his penchant for uncomfortable repitition.


Gansta Granny

With The Midnight Gang making its way on the box this Christmas, the BBC are giving viewers the chance to catch another adaptation of David Walliams’ best-selling kid’s books. First broadcast in 2013, this film follows Ben, a young boy who discovers his seemingly boring Granny is – would you believe it – a secret gangster.

Stick Man

This charming story of a wooden stick who becomes separated from his family home was one of the biggest shows of Christmas 2015. An adaptation of Julia Donaldson children’s book of the same name, it features the voices of Martin Freeman, Jennifer Saunders and Rob Brydon

The complete list of box sets available on BBC iPlayer this Christmas


54 Hours

A Very English Scandal

Bleak House





Death and Nightingales

Doctor Who

Father Brown (series 6)

House of Cards

In the Flesh


Killing Eve

Little Dorrit

Little Drummer Girl

Long Song



Mothers’ Day

Mrs Wilson


North and South

Our Girl



Pride and Prejudice


Sense and Sensibility

Silent Witness (series 17-21)

Small Island

Snowfall (series 2)

The Fades

There She Goes



War and Peace

Watership Down


A Tattoo to Change Your Life


Asian Provocateur

Bangkok Airport

Blue Planet II

Britain’s Forgotten Men




Drugs Map of Britain



Frozen Planet

Killer Magic


Life and Death Row

Louis Theroux

Love and Drugs on the Street

Mark Kermode’s Secrets of Cinema

Misfits Like Us

Mortimer and Whitehouse: Gone Fishing

Our World War

Planet Earth

Planet Earth II

Professor Green

Segregated America: A School in the South

Sex Map of Britain

Sex, Drugs and Murder

Simon Reeve

Snow Chick – A Penguin’s Tale

Snow Babies

Stacey Dooley

Stacey Dooley Investigates

The Blue Planet

The Misadventures of Romesh Ranganathan


Comedy and Entertainment

Bad Education

Blackadder Goes Forth

Bluestone 42

Citizen Khan




Flat TV


Gavin & Stacey

Hold the Sunset

I’ll Get this

Inside Number 9

League of Gentlemen

Man Like Mobeen

Mighty Boosh (series 1)


Mrs Brown’s Boys (Christmas specials)


People Just Do Nothing

Pls Like

Politics for bitches


Rent a Cop


Stewart Lee

Still Game (series 7-8)

Still Open All Hours

Sunny D

The Young Offenders

This Country

Tourist Trap

Top Gear (series 22-23)

Two Doors Down

Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps


Upstart Crow

Vic & Bob’s Big Night Out (2017-2018)


64 Zoo Lane (series 4)

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Alice in Wonderland

Billionaire Boy

Bob the Builder (series 9)

Boy in a Dress

CBeebies Prom

CBeebies Prom: A Musical Journey

Gansta Granny

Goldilocks and the Three Bears

Grandpa’s Great Escape


Gruffalo’s Child

Highway Rat

Mr Stink

Patchwork Pals

Peter Pan

Puss in Boots

Rastamouse (series 1)

Room on the Broom

Something Special at the Proms

Stick Man

The Elves and the Shoe Maker: A CBeebies Ballet

The Snow Queen

The Tale of Mr Tumble

The Tempest

The Tortoise and the Hare: A CBeebies Ballet

The Ugly Duckling


Three Little Pigs: A CBeebies Ballet