BBC Christmas 2019 TV highlights – from Gavin and Stacey to Dracula

The BBC has announced its full slate of festive programming and there looks to be plenty of treats in store

Gavin and Stacey Christmas Special 2019

The Christmas season is always a reliably great period for television – and few broadcasters can rival the wealth of Christmas goodies produced by the BBC.


This year sees a range of exciting new adaptations, beloved sitcom specials and some adorable looking animations, and it definitely seems fair to say there’s something for everyone.

(Note: exact transmission dates and times are yet to be confirmed – stay tuned!)

Gavin & Stacey Christmas Special – Christmas Day, 8:30pm on BBC One

Hailed by many as the highlight of this year’s festive TV calendar, the popular sitcom returns for a Christmas Special a decade after the final episode aired.

All your favourite characters are back for the episode, which will see a tense Bryn (Rob Brydon) cook for over thirteen people, as Gavin & Stacey continue to struggle with the challenges of parenthood.

Miranda: My Such Fun Celebration – Boxing Day, 5:45pm on BBC One

Miranda Hart and Sarah Hadland in Miranda (BBC)
Miranda Hart and Sarah Hadland in Miranda (BBC)

Another popular sitcom that’s been off the air for a while, Miranda returns for a one-off episode – which will see the cast reunite in a special entertainment show that the BBC says will feature “a host of treats and surprises.” 

Don’t forget! Your full two week double issue guide to Christmas and New Year TV and radio are in the legendary Christmas RADIO TIMES – on sale from Saturday 7 December and fully nationwide by Tuesday 10 December


Call The Midwife Christmas Special – Christmas Day, 7pmon BBC One

Call the Midwife xmas special 2019

A festive special of Call The Midwife is now staple of the Christmas day TV schedule, and this year’s episode sees team travel to the Outer Hebrides to recover from a bout of influenza, only to find themselves helping out with a shortage of nurses and doctors on the island.

Miriam Margoyles, who made her debut in last year’s festive episode, returns for the special – which will mark the start of the ninth series of the hit show.

EastEnders – Christmas Day, 9:30pm on BBC One

EastEnders, Keanu Taylor, Sharon Mitchell

EastEnders Christmas episodes are no strangers to drama and it looks like that long-established tradition is sure to continue this year – as Sharon and Keanu’s secret threatens to come out and their lies begin to unravel.

Other storylines will focus on the Carters, with Linda’s drinking causing problems at The Vic and one family who apparently has “a guardian angel watching over”

A Christmas Carol – Begins Sunday 22nd December, 9pm on BBC One

A CHRISTMAS CAROL -- Pictured: Guy Pearce as Ebenezer Scrooge. CR: Robert Viglasky/FX

Without question one of the BBC’s big-hitters this year will be the latest adaptation of Dickens’ festive masterpiece, which will see Guy Pearce follow in the footsteps of Patrick Stewart, Michael Caine and Albert Finney in playing literature’s most famous miser.

Helmed by Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight the BBC has assembled an impressive supporting cast for what it promises will be a “unique and original” take on the story, starring Steven Graham, Andy Serkis and Charlotte Riley.

Dracula – Begins New Year’s Day, 9pm on BBC One

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 15:00:01 on 27/10/2019 - Programme Name: Dracula - TX: n/a - Episode: Dracula - episode 1 (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: **EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION UNTIL 15:00 HRS ON SUNDAY 27TH OCTOBER 2019** Dracula (CLAES BANG) - (C) Hartswood Films - Photographer: Robert Viglasky

Another new adaptation of a classic story, this Dracula series from Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss comprises of three feature-length episodes as the iconic villain plots against Victorian London.

Starring Claes Bang in the lead role, the creators will be hoping that this re-imagining of Bram Stoker’s horror classic can prove as big a hit with viewers as their updated version of Sherlock Holmes – although early signs suggest that this will be a lot more bloody than Sherlock!

The Trial of Christine Keeler – Begins Sunday 29th December at 9pm on BBC One 

Sophie Cookson as Christine Keeler in The Trial of Christine Keeler (BBC)

This prestige drama, which focuses on the real-life events that came to be known as the Profumo Affair, looks very promising indeed – boasting an exciting cast (which includes Sophie Cookson, James Norton and Ellie Bamber) and claiming to offer a “fresh look” at the 1960s story.

The series, which consists of six episodes, centres on 19 year-old Christine Keeler and the male-dominated establishments attempts to silence and exploit her.

The Snail and The Whale – Christmas Day, 2:30pm on BBC One 

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 20/09/2019 - Programme Name: The Snail and the Whale - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: The Snail (Sally Hawkins) looks out across the ocean in awe. - (C) Magic Light - Photographer: Magic Light

Telling of an unlikely but charming friendship between a snail and a whale, the program’s voice cast includes a wealth of acting talent – including Rob Brydon as the whale and Sally Hawkins as the snail.

Mimi and the Mountain Dragon – Boxing Day, 3:20pm on BBC One 

Mimi and the Mountain Dragon

Another animated adventure, this adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s children’s book looks to be cut from the same cloth as classic Christmas animation The Snowman and will no doubt be hoping to prove as succesfull.

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.

Michael McIntyre’s Big Christmas Show – Christmas Day, 6pm on BBC One

Michael McIntyre's Big Christmas Show (BBC, MH)

For the fifth straight year, Michael McIntyre is given a Christmas special of his variety show extravaganza, which will feature the usual mix of music, games and comedy.

The Christmas episode will see Sharon Osbourne relinquish control of her phone to the affable host in a game of Celebrity Send to All, while Strictly judge Craig Revel Horwood will try his luck at the Midnight Gameshow.

Not Going Out: Driving Home For Christmas – Christmas Eve, 10pm on BBC One

Not Going Out Christmas special 2019
BBC/Avalon/Mark Johnson

Lee Mack’s long-running sitcom is back for another Christmas outing – it’s third on the trot. This year’s festive episode promises to include a giant inflatable Santa, an aggressive bull in a field and a terrifying truck driver as Lee and Lucy pop out on a last-minute Christmas Eve mission for the kids.

Mrs Brown’s Boys – Christmas Day, 10:30pm on BBC One

Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas

A Mrs Brown’s Boys Christmas episode has become a sure bet on BBC One’s Christmas Day schedule and the anarchic sitcom makes another appearance this year, as it returns for a festive double-bill. The two episodes are called A Wonderful Mammy and Orange is The New Mammy, and will follow all the Christmas shenanigans in Finglas.

The Goes Wrong Show: The Spirit of Christmas – Monday 23rd December, 7:30pm on BBC One

The Goes Wrong Show
Mischief Screen Limited 2019/Ben Blackall

The team behind West End phenomenon The Play That Goes Wrong are back with another edition for TV. This time round The Cornley Drama Society attempt to stage a production of a joyful Christmas tale – how long will it be before everything goes awry?

Worzel Gummidge – Begins Boxing Day, 6:20pm on BBC One 

Programme Name: Worzel Gummidge - TX: n/a - Episode: Worzel Gummidge - First Look (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: Worzel Gummidge (MACKENZIE CROOK) - (C) Leopard Pictures - Photographer: Matt Burlem

This modernised version of the classic kids show about a scarecrow that comes to life is a real passion project for Detectorists’ Mackenzie Crook, who writes directs and stars in the show.

Split into two one-hour episodes, Crook is joined in the cast by a slew of comedy legends, including Michael Palin, Zoë Wanamaker, Steve Pemberton and Vicki Pepperdine in what is sure to be great entertainment for all the family.

Doctor Who – New Year’s Day, 6:55pm on BBC One

Although we won’t be treated to Doctor Who Christmas special this year, we will see the start of a new series of the landmark sci-fi show, as Jodie Whittaker and co return for their second run in the TARDIS.

Kicking off at the start of 2020, the series promises guest stars and scares aplenty as the gang get ready for more adventures in time and space.

A Berry Royal Christmas – Monday 16th December, 8:30pm on BBC One

Mary Berry's Christmas Party, BBC Pictures

Any piece of television starring Mary Berry always goes down well, and this show sees the baking legend make a series of trips to charities across the country whose staff work throughout the holidays – before she creates a festive feast for a very special party.

Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special – Christmas Day, 4:40pm on BBC One

Joe Sugg Strictly Come Dancing

It wouldn’t be Christmas without strictly and the ballroom extravaganza is back for another festive special this year – with six former stars donning their dancing shoes one last time.

This year’s show will see the return of last years runner up Joe Sugg, in addition to Debbie McGee, Chizzy Akudolu and Gemma Atkinson, Mark Wright and Richard Arnold, while the regular line-up of judges and presenters take their usual places.

Take Off With Bradley And Holly – Christmas Eve, 8pm on BBC One

Holly Willoughby and Bradley Walsh

Two of the nation’s most well-loved presenters unite in this one-off family entertainment show that offers audience members the chance to win a luxury trip to Lapland. Bradley Walsh and Holly Willoughby host a range of games, surprises and celebrity guests before the show’s spectacular finale.

Songs Of Praise – Sunday 15th and 22nd December, 1:15pm on BBC One

Songs of Praise
BBC/Emilie Sandy

Two Christmas episodes of the religious programme will air in the run up to Christmas. The first focuses on a children’s Nativity play on a Devon farm while the second showcases the Christmas Big Sing, broadcasting this year from The Assembly Hall in Belfast.

Seven Worlds, One Planet: Continents of Wonder – New Year’s Day, 1:05pm on BBC One

The last few weeks have seen David Attenborough explore the wonders of all seven continents and the wildlife found there and this compilation episode will pick out the best bits.

The show also doesn’t shy away from environmental issues and highlights the impact of human activity on the climate of each of the planet’s continents.

Meet The Street At Christmas – Begins Monday 16th December, 9:15am on BBC One

Meet the Street at Christmas
BBC / Curve

One of the biggest issues facing a lot of people at Christmas is loneliness, and this five-part series sees vocal coach Mark De-Lisser tackle this head on as he forms several choirs around Wales in a bid to combat feelings of isolation amongst the population.

The first four episodes will follow the creation of a choir in four different communities before all four are united in the series finale.

Dame Edna Rules The Waves – New Year’s Eve, 9:05pm on BBC One

Dame Edna Rules The Waves
Studio 13 Entertainment Ltd/Blake Ezra Cole

The eccentric character returns for an exclusive evening complete with celebrity guests and surprises direct from her luxury yacht. The show features music from the legendary Nile Rogers and Chic as well as guests include Sharon Osbourne, Rob Rinder and Emily Atack.

Carols from King’s – Christmas Eve, 5pm on BBC Two

Carols from King's
BBC/Leon Hargreaves/King's college

Nothing says Christmas quite like a choral rendition of some of our most beloved carols, and so the annual performance from the world-famous King’s College Choir has been a highlight of the festive TV calendar ever since its maiden broadcast 65 years ago. As usual, the celebration will include carols old and new – including the Sussex Carol, Ding Dong Merrily On High and O Holy Night. 

Hugh Grant: A Life on Screen – Monday 23rd December, 9pm on BBC Two

Hugh Grant: A Life on Screen
BBC/BAFTA/Debra Hurford Brown

Hugh Grant is one of the nation’s most charming and charismatic actors and this deep dive into his illustrious career is sure to be a delight.

The thespian retells the story of his acting history, from his early days to his spell as one of the most reliable leading men to his recent barnstorming turn as the villain of Paddington 2. The show includes contributions from Grant’s friends and co-stars, including Andie MacDowell, Richard Curtis, Sandra Bullock, Colin Firth and Nicholas Hoult.

Inside the Christmas Factory – Thursday 12th December, 9pm on BBC Two

Inside the Christmas Factory

Gregg Wallace discovers the secrets behind some of the festive season’s most popular party foods as he visits a factory in Nottingham that makes an astonishing 200,000 canapes every 24 hours. Meanwhile Cherry Healey researches how to cook the perfect turkey and Ruth Goodman traces the origins of smooching under the mistletoe.

Gareth Malone’s Christmas Concert – Christmas Eve, 9pm on BBC Two

Gareth Malone
Christopher Polk/NBC/Getty Images

This heart-warming documentary will see the enthusiastic choirmaster helps put on a Christmas concert at one of the nation’s many hard-working community hospitals with the help of help of staff, patients and their families.

Dolly Parton: HERE I AM – Christmas Day, 8:30pm on BBC Two

This brand new feature-length documentary explores the real person behind the iconic hits and promises to uncover a Dolly Parton that is “far more authentic and far more surprising” than we’re used to.

Coming from BAFTA winner Francis Whately – who has previously covered the work of legendary stars such as David bowie and Dame Judi Dench – the crew have been given unprecedented access, as Dolly herself talks through the genesis of many of her most enduring songs.

Jools’ Annual Hootenanny 2019 – New Year’s Eve, 11:15pm on BBC Two

Jools Holland (Getty, MH)

Taking its usual spot on the New Year’s Eve schedule, Jools Holland’s show is back to usher in the new decade, as the host is joined by a range of high-profile guests to perform alongside his band.

A Merry Tudor Christmas With Lucy Worsley – Friday 20th December, 9pm on BBC Two


Lucy Worsley focuses on the festive traditions of the 16th century, discovering how the Christmas period was celebrated in the time of Henry VIII and learning of the roots of some longstanding yuletide traditions along the way.

The documentary reveals a time when Christmas was full of religious spectacle, enormous charitable acts and rare moments of togetherness between King and subjects, Lords and labourers, priests and worshippers.

Frankie Boyle’s New World Order – Monday 30th December, 10pm on BBC Two

Programme Name: Frankie Boyle's 2019 New World Order - TX: n/a - Episode: Early Release (No. Early Release) - Picture Shows: Frankie Boyle - (C) Endemol Shine UK - Photographer: Brian Ritchie

The Scottish comedian turns his satirical glance to another chaotic year in the news, with a mixture of stand-up, review and discussion as he’s joined by a number of guests in an attempt to make sense of 2019’s big events.

2019: A Year In The Life Of A Year – New Year’s Day, 11pm on BBC Two

Returning for its fourth year, Rhys Thomas presents another spoof review of the year’s major events using re-edited and dubbed footage – billed as “a review of the year unlike any other review of the year, because almost all of it is made up.”

Top Gear – Sunday 29th December, 9pm on BBC Two

Top Gear Christmas Special Nepal
BBC Studios/Alexander Rhind

The presenters undertake a gruelling road-trip across Nepal from the capital city of Kathmandu to Lo Manthang a secretive kingdom perched high on the Tibetan plateau, on the far side of the Himalayas. The journey will reportedly see them battle crossings, vast mudslides, and dizzying mountain passes all while driving a Peugeot, a Renault and a home-built car…

The Christmas Misadventures Of Romesh Ranganathan – Saturday 14th December, 10:45pm on BBC Two

Programme Name: The Christmas Misadventures of Romesh Ranganathan: The Sahara - TX: n/a - Episode: Early Release (No. Early Release) - Picture Shows: on top of the sand dunes in the Sahara. Romesh Ranganathan - (C) Rumpus Media Ltd - Photographer: Production

Following on from his trip to the Arctic last year, the popular comedian ventures to a very different sort of climate – as he travels to the excruciatingly arid Sahara Desert. Arriving in scorching mid-summer heat (the episode was filmed in July) Romesh is guided by a local by the name of Bobo as he discovers the highs and lows of the inhospitable desert.

Heston’s Marvellous Menu: Back to the Noughties – Thursday 19th December, 9pm on BBC Two

Heston's Marvellous Menu: Back To The Noughties
BBC/Wonderhood Studios

Heston Blumenthal is challenged by Giles Coren to recreate the 2001 menu from his world-renowned restaurant The Fat Duck – with the help of his former staff members.  The show will be dripping with turn of the millennium nostalgia, as famous faces from the era appear in the styles of the time and the kitchen redecorated to match its former design.

Paddington: The Man Behind the Bear – Boxing Day, 9pm on BBC Two

A Bear Called Paddington and a Man Called Michael
BBC Studios

The two recent Paddington films are both amongst the decade’s most lauded family films, but neither would have been possible without Michael Bond – the original creator of the beloved bear.

This documentary charts the story of bond and his most famous creation, featuring interviews with his friends, family and celebrity admirers as well as focusing on some of his lesser-known creations such as The Herbs, Olga da Polga and Monsieur Pamplemousse.

In Search Of Dracula with Mark Gatiss – Friday 3rd January, 10:35pm on BBC Two

In Search of Dracula with Mark Gatiss
BBC/Hartswood Films/Bright Branch Media/Dracula TV LTD/Robert Viglasky

A natural accompaniment to the new three-part drama, this documentary is fronted by Mark Gatiss as he looks at various iterations of the iconic character – including Nosferatu and the legendary Hammer films.

Martin’s Close – Christmas Eve, 10pm on BBC Four

Martin's Close

Written and directed by Mark Gatiss, this ghost story is based on a short story by MR James and follows a court case in which the accused seems to have been visited by the ghost of his victim. The cast is headlined by Peter Capaldi, with Wilf Scolding (Game of Thrones) and Elliot Levey (Murder on the Orient Express) also starring.