It’s shaping up to be a great Christmas in front of the TV, with a schedule full of reimagined classics, exciting new adaptations and specials of the country’s most beloved shows already announced, and lots more still to come.
Here’s the pick of what we can reveal so far – watch this space for more festive goodies as we add them…
An entire decade has passed since we were last treated to a new episode of Gavin & Stacey, so the return of the beloved English-Welsh sitcom for a one-off Christmas special is an undisputed highlight of the festive TV calendar.
Original cast members Ruth Jones, James Corden, Matthew Horne, Joanna Page, Rob Brydon, Larry Lamb, Melanie Walters and Alison Steadman all return for the hour-long special, which has been confirmed for BBC One’s Christmas Day line-up.
Few literary works have been adapted with quite as much regularity as Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and with good reason – the 19th century fable remains the king of all Christmas stories.
This time it’s Guy Pearce’s turn to follow in the footsteps of Albert Finney, Patrick Stewart and Michael Caine and declare “Bah, humbug!” The Australian actor is joined in this three-part special by Charlotte Riley, Stephen Graham, Andy Serkis and Vinette Robinson.
Thierry Wickens (John), India Brown (Susan) and Mackenzie Crook (Worzel) in BBC1’s Worzel Gummidge
The classic children’s sitcom is set for a festive reboot, with Mackenzie Crook replacing Jon Pertwee as the eponymous scarecrow who comes to life. Based on the classic children’s books by Barbara Euphan Todd, it will consist of two hour-long episodes.
Both were written by Detectorists star Crook himself, with a slew of comedy legends – including Michael Palin, Zoë Wanamaker, Steve Pemberton and Vicki Pepperdine – joining him in the cast.
The period drama has become a staple of the Christmas Day viewing schedule, and this year’s festive special – which finished filming as long ago as May – will mark the start of the ninth season of the hit show.
Miriam Margoyles returns to the cast following her Call the Midwife debut in 2018’s Christmas special, as the team travel to an idyllic Scottish island to provide much needed support for the residents. Jenny Agutter (Sister Julienne), Linda Bassett (Nurse Crane), Judy Parfitt (Sister Monica Joan) and Fenella Woolgar (Sister Hilda) also star.
Mimi and the Mountain Dragon – BBC One
Based on a popular Michael Morpurgo book, this animated children’s Christmas adventure looks set to be a real treat – and possibly something that could be mentioned in the same breath as The Snowman in years to come.
Featuring a score by Oscar award-winning composer Rachel Portman and based on original illustrations by Emily Gravett, the 25-minute program tells the story of a shy girl who discovers a baby dragon in her family woodshed, and the journey she subsequently embarks on to return it to its mother.
Not Going Out Christmas Special – BBC One
Lee Mack’s comedy series – which has now run for ten series – follows up its successful Halloween special with a festive edition. Exact details of the plot are a bit thin on the ground at this stage, but we do know that the show is also set to return for an eleventh series in 2020.
Mrs Brown’s Boys – BBC One
A regular series of Mrs Brown’s Boys hasn’t aired since 2013, but the sitcom is another show which has firmly established its place on the Christmas Day schedule – and there’s no change this year. We’re yet to hear more details about this year’s special, but we’ll let you know as soon as we do.
The Great Christmas Bake Off – Channel 4
Prue, Paul, Noel and Sandy return to the tent not once but twice over the festive period with two exciting specials.
The first sees favourites from previous seasons – including 2017’s Yan and Tom as well as Briony and Terry from 2018 – return to the tent, and will apparently feature a performance from Status Quo.
The BBC has forged a modern Christmas tradition of airing children’s stories written by The Gruffalo author Julia Donaldson, and brought to life with animation from Magic Light Pictures.
Boasting an excellent voice cast that includes Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water), Rob Brydon (Gavin & Stacey) and Cariad Lloyd (Peep Show), The Snail and the Whale tells the story of a tiny snail with huge ambition who hitches a ride on the tail of a humpback whale.
The Christmas period wouldn’t be complete without a new prestige drama from the BBC – and this year we’ll be treated to a historical series based on an infamous 1960’s scandal.
The six-parter, which boasts an impressive cast including Sophie Cookson, James Norton, Ellie Bamber and Ben Miles, focuses on the woman at the heart of the Profumo Affair – Christine Keeler. It tells a human story about the sexual and cultural politics of an iconic moment in history.
Bancroft – ITV
The festive period also marks the return of murder detective DCI Elizabeth Bancroft, for a second three-part series. Sarah Parish is back in the lead role, while the supporting cast includes Charlotte Hope, David Avery and Jacqueline Boatswain.
Cinderella: After Ever After – Sky
Sky’s big Christmas special this year is an original drama starring David Walliams, Sian Gibson, Celia Imrie and Sir Tom Courtenay.
Picking up where the classic Cinderella story takes off, the show explores Cinderella’s post-marriage distress – as she comes to terms with the annoying habits of Prince Charming and begins to question if selecting a life-partner based on the size of a shoe was such a great idea after all.
It’s hard to imagine a BBC One Christmas Day schedule that doesn’t include Strictly, and you don’t have to as Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman return to host another festive extravaganza this year.
Six famous faces from previous series – including Joe Sugg and Gemma Atkinson – will pull their dancing shoes on one more time as they bid to impress the studio audience and take home the special Christmas trophy.
It’s Not the Robbie Williams Christmas Show – ITV
Robbie Williams, takes to the stage for a brand-new entertainment special, treating the audience to a night of music and entertainment as he performs a selection of his hits and some Christmas classics – with help from some celebrity guests.
Filmed at the newly restored Alexandra Palace Theatre, it also promises new songs from Robbie’s Christmas album The Christmas Present.