Christmas Day is the traditional big day in the festive calendar but, increasingly, New Year’s Day is being stacked with the best Christmas TV of the season.
With specials of Doctor Who, Taskmaster and Mrs Brown’s Boys all airing today, plus one-off documentaries from David Walliams and Torvill and Dean it’s a day to celebrate and to kick back.
Here are our first TV picks for a year we hope will be very different to 2020.
The Greatest Showman – 5:30pm, Channel 4
One of the most uplifting films out there, The Greatest Showman is an ideal way to start 2021 on a happy note. Hugh Jackman stars as PT Barnum, a visionary businessman (and indeed, showman) whose work gave birth to the circus we know today. We know those songs are still stuck in your head…
Doctor Who – 6:45pm, BBC One
Doctor Who returns for another seasonal special, Revolution of the Daleks, and not only do we have a Dalek invasion – complete with a new “drone” redesign – but Captain Jack Harkness himself is back to help Yaz, Ryan, and Graham, while the Doctor is locked up in an alien prison.
Can the Doctor’s companions – old and new – save mankind without the Doctor?
Chitty Flies Again with David Walliams – 7:30pm, Channel 4
Acclaimed children’s author and Chitty superfan David Walliams presents this one-off special honouring 50 years of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by attempting to recreate the classic vehicle, complete with the ability to fly. For such a feat he’ll need some help – and has enlisted not only aircraft engineer Tony Hoskins, but an entire class of eight-year-old primary school children to help construct the icon of children’s cinema.
He’ll also delve into the film’s history involving original author Ian Fleming and screenwriter Roald Dahl, view behind the scenes material, and interview original cast and crew, fellow superfans, and inventors inspired by the film. Phew!
Dancing on Thin Ice with Torvill and Dean – 9pm, ITV
Torvill and Dean are no strangers to a seasonal special, but this time they’re turning their attention away from regular ice skating to something much bigger – climate change. Narrated by Stephen Fry, the film follows the Olympic stars as they set out to live their dream of skating outside, only to struggle to find wild ice as Alaska experiences its hottest year on record. As they cross frozen lakes and glaciers, will the iconic duo manage to perform the Bolero on natural ice for the very first time?
Taskmaster New Year’s Treat – 9pm Channel 4
Taskmaster continues to grow its fanbase, having moved to Channel 4 earlier this year and now broadcasting its very first festive special. Taskmaster New Year’s Treat sees five brand new celebrities taking on weird and wonderful tasks, namely actor John Hannah, journalist Krishnan Guru-Murthy, actress Nicola Coughlan, presenter Rylan Clark-Neal and Strictly judge Shirley Ballas. Here’s hoping their tasks are just as funny as our top 11 best Taskmaster challenges…
The Serpent – 9pm, BBC One
A far cry from her roles as Queen Victoria and Doctor Who companion Clara, The Serpent sees Jenna Coleman as Marie-Andrée Leclerc, the partner and accomplice of real-life serial killer Charles Sobhraj. Sobhraj was a key suspect in the murder of at least 12 Western travellers in south-east Asia between 1975 and 1976, and the show will document the authorities’ attempts to bring the master of disguise and deception to justice. Tahar Rahim, Billy Howle, and Ellie Bamber also star.
Michael McIntyre: In His Own Words – 9pm, Channel 5
It’s hard to imagine now, but Michael McIntyre wasn’t always the arena-selling comedian we know today. This documentary charts his meteoric rise to fame, with interviews from the man himself and contributions from celebrity fans Jonathan Ross, Eamonn Holmes, Marcus Brigstocke, Rob Rinder, Kate Copstick and Andi Osho.
Mrs Brown’s Boys New Year’s Special – 10pm, BBC One
The second of Mrs Brown’s seasonal specials following the Christmas Day edition, this New Year’s episode will continue to show the Brown family’s struggles after lockdown. Titled Mammy’s Memories, the episode will see Winnie’s house burgled, leading to a very misunderstood police interview, Buster and Dermot turning vigilante, and more hilarity.
Frankie Boyle’s 2020 New World Order – 10pm, BBC Two
Frankie Boyle takes a look back at 2020 in a way only he could, offering his frank take on the many bewildering events of the year. Miles Jupp and Sophie Duker are the panellists helping make sense of the last 12 months, while Boyle also delivers some stand-up comedy with his signature audience interaction.
If you’re looking for more to watch check out our TV guide.