It's the most wonderful time of the year to be a television fan.
That's right, we're now getting the best that Christmas television has to offer, with the BBC Christmas schedule alone offering us a bumper helping of viewing goodness, including the Doctor Who Christmas special, the Call the Midwife Christmas special, and the murderous festive edition of EastEnders.
So, there's no shortage of treats for the entire family on Christmas Day and beyond, whether it's the BBC, ITV Christmas schedule, Channel 4 Christmas schedule, Channel 5 Christmas special, or Sky Christmas special.
Read on for the ultimate guide to the best Christmas TV for this year from RadioTimes.com.
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Best Christmas TV for 2023 – Your guide to what to watch
1. Doctor Who: The Church on Ruby Road
Aside from the long-running sci-fi series returning to our screens for three 60th anniversary specials in November, Doctor Who is also bringing fans an anticipated festive special.
While details of the episode remain under wraps for now, we do know that there have been some impressive Ncuti Gatwa outfits spotted, as well as The Sun previously reporting that Davina McCall would be playing herself, as part of a storyline which sees Ruby taking part in a genealogy show.
We do know that the festive special will feature Gatwa's Fifteenth Doctor and his new companion Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson) but as for whether it'll arrive on the big day itself here in the UK, we'll have to wait and see.
Doctor Who Holiday Special: The Church on Ruby Road will air on BBC One (in the UK) at 5:55pm on Christmas Day. The special will land on Disney Plus internationally.
2. Sister Boniface Mysteries Christmas special
Ahead of season 3, which is set to air in 2024, Lorna Watson is returning as everyone’s favourite crime-solving Catholic nun in the Sister Boniface Mysteries Christmas special.
When Sister Boniface and her fellow travellers are stranded on a snowbound train, they’re tasked with investigating the theft of a precious jewel and a murder on board.
Will Boniface manage to solve the case, survive the freezing cold and get home in time to celebrate Christmas?
Alongside Watson, Max Brown stars as detective Sam, Sarah Crowden as Miss Thimble and Belinda Lang as Mrs Clam.
The Sister Boniface Mysteries Christmas special will air on Drama at 8pm on Tuesday 19th December.
3. The Great Christmas Bake Off
Six familiar faces are gearing up to return for The Great Christmas Bake Off’s Christmas special, which is set to air on Christmas Eve.
Former contestants George (series 12), Sophie (series 8), Dan (series 9), Amelia (series 10), Linda (series 11), and Carole (series 13) will be donning their aprons and returning to the tent for another chance at glory.
The Great Christmas Bake Off will air on BBC One (in the UK) at 8:15pm on Christmas Eve.
4. The Crown season 6 part 2
The final season of Peter Morgan's prestige royal drama The Crown has finally been released in its entirety and has been split into two distinct parts.
While Part 1 focuses on Diana, Princess of Wales's life away from her former husband Charles, Prince of Wales and the final days of her life and the aftermath of her traumatic death, the second part tackles the struggles of her sons and the monarchy in the years that follow.
The majority of the cast will reprise their roles for part 2, but Ed McVey and Luther Ford take on the roles of Prince William and Prince Harry, respectively. Meg Bellamy also debuts in the role of William's future wife, Catherine Middleton, with the new part of the series focusing on William and Kate's relationship, including the influence of Catherine's mother, Carole Middleton (played by House of the Dragon star Eve Best).
Actor Bertie Carvel also gets his moment in the spotlight as the series examines the relationship of Prime Minister Tony Blair, while Lesley Manville finally gets the chance to shine as the show portrays the final days of Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon.
Finally, the tenth episode of the final run brings the story to a close as we say farewell to Queen Elizabeth II (Imelda Staunton, Olivia Colman, and Claire Foy) once again.
The Crown season 6 is available now on Netflix worldwide.
All roads in EastEnders have been gearing up for the fateful Christmas storyline which will see one mystery man killed. Of course, the February flash-forward has had fans talking and sleuthing while they've been tuning into episodes this year, with theories aplenty swirling about who could be the victim.
Could it be Dean Wicks (Matt Di Angelo)? Nish Panesar (Navin Chowdhry)? Theo Hawthorne (William Ellis)? While we won't know who it is until that exciting Christmas episode, we do know that The Six - Sharon Watts (Letitia Dean), Denise Fox (Diane Parish), Suki Panesar (Balvinder Sopal), Linda Carter (Kellie Bright), Stacey Slater (Lacey Turner) and Kathy Cotton (Gillian Taylforth) - are at the heart of the juicy storyline.
Just know we have seen a good chunk of the episode and it is not one to miss!
EastEnders airs Mondays to Thursdays at 7:30pm on BBC One and from 6am on BBC iPlayer. The Christmas special is scheduled to air on BBC One at 9:45pm on Christmas Day.
6. All Creatures Great and Small
Channel 5's cosiest drama is back for a festive special this year! While details about the episode remain under wraps for now, it will be a welcome addition to the schedule for fans of the drama who have seen the fourth season wrap up recently. The season has already welcomed in some new faces and funny storylines, as well as having a changing political backdrop with Winston Churchill in office.
Last Christmas's All Creatures Great and Small special saw the departure of Callum Woodhouse's Tristan Farnon, who was called up to serve in the Royal Army Veterinary Corps. Will there be any shock character departures or welcomes with this special? We'll just have to wait and see.
All Creatures Great and Small's Christmas special airs on Channel 5 at 9pm on Thursday 21st December.
7. All Creatures Great and Small Meets The Yorkshire Vet
If you're a fan of these two shows, you're in for a treat, as the Channel 5 series collide in a one-off special this Christmas. This special show will go behind-the-scenes of the All Creatures Great and Small Christmas special with the help of vets, James Herriot's real-life apprentice Peter Wright and Shona Searson.
Wright is set to feature in the Christmas episode as an extra, with the pair of real-life vets also getting to meet the cast of the beloved series. But that's not all, Sam West (Siegfried Farnon) and Anna Madeley (Mrs Hall) will venture into Yorkshire Vet territory and paying a visit to some well-known local places.
All Creatures Great and Small Meets The Yorkshire Vet airs on Channel 5 at 6pm on Boxing Day.
8. Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special
With the complete line-up for the Christmas special all confirmed now, excitement can continue to build for the Strictly Come Dancing special, which will air on Christmas Day.
The big change from the regular show is that this special episode won't involve any votes from the public (you'll likely be too preoccupied with your chocolate boxes and gift opening anyway, right?) but will still see the contestants paired up with professional partners and face the wrath (or joy) from judges Shirley Ballas, Motsi Mabuse, Craig Revel Horwood and Anton Du Beke.
The line-up for this year's festive special includes EastEnders actor Jamie Borthwick, Sugababes star Keisha Buchanan, newsreader Sally Nugent and more.
Strictly Come Dancing's Christmas Special will air on BBC One and iPlayer at 4:40pm on Christmas Day.
9. Ghosts Christmas special
While many Ghosts fans naturally thought that the season 5 finale (ominously titled Last Resort) would be the final farewell to the beloved comedy, it turns out that the Ghosts team are giving us one final Christmas-themed surprise.
However, this year's festive special has been billed as the last ever episode, so we'll just have to remain hopeful that the series bows out on a high, which we're sure it will. While we don't yet know what the episode will include or be about, series co-creator Laurence Rickard spoke to RadioTimes.com about what fans could expect.
He revealed: "I think certainly the final three or four minutes will be quite unexpected. And it's possible we'll get to see a character that we've had before again and there's certainly a step change very early on – something that we haven't done before in the show."
The Ghosts Christmas Special will air at 7:45pm on BBC One and iPlayer on Christmas Day.
10. Call the Midwife Christmas special
It wouldn't be Christmas without a return to Nonnatus House now, would it? While we don't have a confirmed release date for the anticipated return of Call the Midwife, the festive special will certainly tide fans over until the 13th season of the hit show.
Last year's festive special certainly included its fair share of heart-warming moments, but also dealt with the midwives moving into their new maternity clinic, as well as the prevalent storyline focused on thalidomide poisoning.
What will this year's festive special bring? Well, according to an update on the official Call the Midwife social media channels, the stories they're filming are "powerful and moving", so we'll just have to wait and see.
Call the Midwife will air on BBC One and iPlayer at 8:15pm on Christmas Day.
11. Bad Education Christmas special
While many of us have been tuning in for the past few weeks and have enjoyed seeing Layton Williams as a dancer on Strictly Come Dancing, the actor is actually well known for his role as drama teacher Stephen Carmichael in Bad Education.
Well, the series returns this Christmas for what is set to be another chaotic and hilarious instalment – and will feature a very special return of Jack Whitehall as Alfie Wickers.
The new episode will feature original songs and choreography to tell a Dickens-inspired tale and will star Williams, Charlie Wernham, Mathew Horne and Vicki Pepperdine alongside the cast of Class K as they’ve never been seen before.
Bad Education's Christmas special will air on Wednesday 13th December at 9pm BBC Three and iPlayer.
12. The Winter King
A suitably titled period drama for the wintery period, this new series will air before the end of the year and so, will likely land on our screens in time for some stellar Christmas binge-watching.
The series is an anticipated adaptation of Bernard Cornwell’s Warlord Chronicles series and stars Iain De Caestecker (Marvel's Agents of SHIELD) as warlord Arthur, who happens to be the bastard son of Uther Pendragon (Eddie Marsan) and is retrieved from banishment to protect an infant heir.
The series follows Arthur from a completely banished person to a legendary warrior and leader, certainly set to be one of the more outright action-packed watches this season.
The Winter King will air exclusively on ITVX on Thursday 21st December.
13. Tabby McTat
It wouldn't quite be the Christmas schedule without some kind of animated adventure fit for all the family, and this year's offering, Tabby McTat, is narrated by Doctor Who star Jodie Whittaker. The new animation has been adapted from the hugely successful picture book written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler, with Tabby McTat marking the 11th animated special of their work.
In this new adventure, we'll follow the tale of this warm and wonderful friendship between a musical cat (voiced by Gangs of London's Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísú) and a talented busker called Fred (Gavin and Stacey's Rob Brydon).
Tabby McTat will air on BBC One and iPlayer at 2:35pm on Christmas Day.
14. A Very Brassic Christmas
After the season 5 return of Brassic and that cliffhanger of an ending, fans have been waiting patiently to see just how the Christmas special will unfold. Well, it seems as though the usual kinds of chaos are in store for our gang, even if their intention is to "kick back, relax and enjoy life to the max", according to the synopsis.
A Very Brassic Christmas will air on Sky Max on Thursday 21st December at 10pm.
15. Mog's Christmas
This hand-drawn animated special is an adaptation of Judith Kerr's Mog's Christmas and is being released this year to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Kerr's birth.
It's set to be a very heartwarming watch as we follow Mog, the beloved family cat, who is struggling as the rest of the family are busy making preparations for Christmas. But when Mog scrambles up to the roof for safety, she actually has the most magical night before stumbling down the chimney, back into her rightful home and has the happiest Christmas.
Not only will this be a lovely little watch for all but it also boasts quite the star-studded cast, with the likes of Claire Foy and Benedict Cumberbatch leading the voice cast, as well as Miriam Margolyes (Harry Potter), Maggie Steed (Ten Percent) and Zawe Ashton (The Marvels) to name a few.
Mog's Christmas will air on Channel 4 at 7:45pm on Christmas Eve.
Another soap that is set to bring Christmas storylines aplenty this year is Emmerdale, which will be seeing multiple plot lines continue on over the festive period – and will also feature a special appearance from ice dancers Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean.
This year's Christmas special will be a turn away from usual form for the soap as producer Laura Shaw previously teased it won’t be a happy Yuletide for all involved.
She said: "The last couple of years we've done a bit more of a fluffier kind of Christmas for Emmerdale, but this one is quite different and edgier for us.
"I can tell you that definitely not every one of our villagers will be sat down eating their turkey with all the trimmings on Christmas Day."
The person who looks set to have the worst Christmas is love rat Mackenzie Boyd (Lawrence Robb) as he is kidnapped and held prisoner. Will his wife Charity Dingle (Emma Atkins) be able to save him in time?
Emmerdale airs on weekdays at 7:30pm on ITV1 and ITVX. The Christmas special airs on Christmas Day at 6:30pm.
17. Coronation Street
Quite a few heart-wrenching storylines are on their way to the cobbles of Weatherfield this year, as not only are Carla (Alison King) and Peter (Chris Gascoyne) Barlow set to reach a dramatic crossroads this festive season – and have a special two-hander episode to follow on Boxing Day – but there will also be new characters and love triangles.
As well as that, Bernie (Jane Hazlegrove) will also run the risk of missing her son, Paul Foreman's (Peter Ash), last-ever Christmas due to his ongoing battle with Motor Neurone Disease, which is heading towards a sad conclusion. And that's just a fraction of what's to come, so you'll most definitely want to tune into Corrie this Christmas.
Coronation Street airs weeknights on ITV. The Christmas special airs at 7pm on Christmas Day.
18. Lot No. 249
Marking the first time that Mark Gatiss has adapted one of Arthur Conan Doyle’s for TV, this new ghost story is set to be a chilling one and sees Kit Harrington take the lead as Abercrombie Smith.
While some may not think to tune into a ghost story over the festive period, the project may be a new one for Gatiss but it's far from his first rodeo when it comes to penning spooky stories. This time round, the new one-off special will revolve around a group of Oxford students, one in particular who undertakes research into the secrets of Ancient Egypt and subsequently, could very well breathe some life into the mysterious bag of bones in the mysterious Lot No. 249.
Lot No. 249 will air on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer at 10pm on Christmas Eve.
19. Murder Is Easy
Agatha Christie stories and Christmas go hand-in-hand together for many people, like turkey and mince pies on the big day itself. As the expert in crime and mystery novels, Murder Is Easy is set to be the watch this year that will have all the family vying to figure out the killer.
This new two-part special will follow a young man named Luke Fitzwilliam (Rye Lane and Industry star David Jonsson) as he investigates a string of murders in a quiet, sleepy English village, having been alerted to the fact by fellow train passenger Miss Pinkerton (After Life's Penelope Wilton).
Agatha Christie's Murder Is Easy premieres on BBC One and iPlayer on Wednesday 27th December.
20. The Heist Before Christmas
Vying for a top spot in the Christmas film stakes, this new movie will be coming to Sky over the festive period and stars James Nesbitt and Timothy Spall.
While conversations around the best Christmas movie can often get quite heated, this new movie blends humour, drama and a bank robbery to underline the magic of the most wonderful time of the year.
We follow twelve-year-old Mikey (Bamber Todd), who has grown up too fast to believe in the magic of Christmas but is soon faced with two clashing images of what Santa should be – but who will deliver the kind of heartfelt Christmas message he's been waiting for?
The Heist Before Christmas will premiere on Sky Max and NOW at 8pm on Christmas Eve.
21. Death in Paradise Christmas special
We are returning to the sunny shores of Saint Marie for the anticipated Death in Paradise Christmas special once again!
Like last year's first ever one, this new episode will be feature-length in size and will follow on from the dramatic events of the previous season, which saw Ralf Little's DI Neville Parker having to reckon with matters of the heart as well as uncovering some serious goings-on on the island.
Neville is still struggling after the events of last season, but there's no better way to distract himself than with a murder case, right? With a new case also comes a new guest cast, which includes Patsy Kensit (EastEnders), Doon Mackichan (Two Doors Down) and Youssef Kerkour (House of Gucci).
Death in Paradise's 2023 Christmas special will air on BBC One and iPlayer at 9pm on Boxing Day.
22. Beyond Paradise Christmas special
It's been a stellar year for the Death in Paradise spin-off, Beyond Paradise, which follows fan-favourite Humphrey Goodman (Kris Marshall) in his new life in Shipton Abbott. So good, in fact, that, as well as season 2 having been confirmed, we're also getting a Christmas special.
The first season of the series saw Humphrey battle with marital woes, perplexing crimes and more, so there's no telling what the Christmas episode could include. But we do know that it'll likely star Sally Bretton as Martha Lloyd, Zahra Ahmadi as DS Esther Williams, Dylan Llewellyn as PC Kelby Hartford, Felicity Montagu as office support Margo Martins and Barbara Flynn as Anne Lloyd.
Beyond Paradise's Christmas special will air on BBC One and iPlayer at 9pm on Christmas Eve.
23. Not Going Out
The hilarious sitcom may have returned for its 13th season this summer, but we're getting another instalment of Not Going Out this Christmas.
While details about the upcoming festive special remain under wraps for now, we know it'll see the return of Lee Mack as Lee and will likely see more suburban mayhem.
Speaking to RadioTimes.com, Mack previously revealed that this Christmas's episode will mark the sitcom's 100th. But when asked about a potential 14th run, he explained: "We're doing the 100th episode this Christmas, so we are deciding, shall we say, and so are the BBC. We're having chats, so we'll see.
"One hundred is a lovely round number though, isn't it? I can absolutely confirm I won’t be doing 200!"
Not Going Out's Christmas special will air on BBC One and iPlayer at 10pm on Christmas Eve.
Nicola Coughlan is set to star as Queen Victoria in the upcoming Christmas special of Dodger alongside Paul Whitehouse and Simon Callow.
The BAFTA award-winning comedy returns for a festive special this year, titled Coronation, which will see Fagin and his gang attempt their biggest heist yet: Stealing Queen Victoria's crown from her coronation ceremony.
Christopher Eccleston and Billy Jenkins reprise their roles as Fagin and Dodger in this Oliver Twist prequel, with Lenny Rush also returning as Morgan, Ellie-May Sheridan as Polly plus more.
Dodger's Christmas special will air on Sunday 3rd December at 4:50pm on CBBC.
25. The Masked Singer Christmas special
We may have just recently had the I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here Masked Singer special on our screens, but it's now been confirmed that a Christmas 2023 special will be on our screens.
While details remain under wraps for now, we can expect more of the same carnage, mysterious costumes and pitchy songs. We'll get to find out who's behind the mask in the one episode, with four celebrities trying their hardest to secure the win. Judges Mo Gilligan, Davina McCall, Joel Dommett, Rita Ora and Jonathan Ross will all be returning.
The Masked Singer Christmas special will air on ITV1 and ITVX at 7:30pm on Christmas Day.
26. Charles III: The Coronation Year
Coming to BBC One this December, there will be a brand new 90-minute film about King Charles III's first year on the throne. While a release date for this is yet to be announced, the film will take viewers behind the scenes of the King and Queen Camilla's life with narration coming from Helena Bonham Carter.
Of course, this isn't the first royal connection Carter has had in her career, with the actress having previously starred in Netflix's The Crown as Princess Margaret in seasons 3 and 4.
The documentary film will follow the events leading up the historic coronation, the first in 70 years, and will also feature contributions from members of the royal family and key players in the royal household.
Charles III: The Coronation year will air on BBC One and iPlayer at 6:50pm on Boxing Day.
27. The Great British Sewing Bee Christmas special
Stepping into hosting duties in this year's festive special of The Great British Sewing Bee, Ghosts star Kiell Smith-Bynoe will present the upcoming new tenth series as well, featuring alongside returning fan favourite judges Patrick Grant and Esme Young.
Sara Pascoe has stepped back from hosting duties after having her second child, but the festive edition of the show will, once again, see a group of amateur garment makers go head-to-head in a series of challenges.
While the line-up is yet to be confirmed, last year's show boasted the likes of Strictly's Johannes Radebe, EastEnders' Natalie Cassidy, model and presenter Penny Lancaster and podcaster Rosie Ramsey.
The Great British Sewing Bee will air on BBC One and iPlayer at 9pm on Thursday 21st December.
28. Vera Christmas special
DCI Vera Stanhope (Brenda Blethyn) is back on our screens this December for a feature-length episode that will see her investigating a high-profile apparent suicide. But Vera quickly works out that there's more to the case than meets the eye and that, actually, a potential school reunion could point to the grudge-bearing killer.
While not confirmed for next month's episode just yet, Vera season 13 will see the return of DS Joe Ashworth (David Leon), who hasn't been seen alongside Vera since season 4.
The Vera Christmas special will air on ITV1 and ITVX at 8pm on Boxing Day.
Beloved Aussie soap opera Neighbours is going from strength to strength on Amazon Freevee and this Christmas we get some festive instalments.
These special episodes airing from 25th December 2023 will include the much-anticipated wedding of fan-favourite couple Chloe Brennan (April Rose Pengilly)and Elly Conway (Jodi Gordon), lovingly known by fans as #Chelly.
Will the pair finally get their happy ending?
The holiday season marks the first time in years that the soap will air continuous new episodes over the festive period. So, mark your calendars and get ready for the cutest soap wedding of the year.
30. The Tourist
It's been a long time coming but the darkly comic thriller The Tourist is finally returning to our screens on New Year's Day on BBC One and BBC iPlayer.
Jamie Dornan returns as the mysterious protagonist now revealed to be Elliot Stanley, while Danielle Macdonald returns as Helen Chambers.
This time the series has transported us from the Australian outback to Ireland for a series of twists, thrills and laughs.
What secrets look set to be exposed about The Man this time?
The Tourist season 2 premieres on 1st January 2023 at 9pm on BBC One and is released as a series boxset on BBC iPlayer at the same time.
31. Mr Bates vs the Post Office
ITV has been far from short of providing us with factual dramas this year, but this series is set to air this December and features a cast that boasts the likes of Toby Jones, Monica Dolan and Julie Hesmondhalgh, to name a few.
According to the ITV synopsis: "The drama tells the story of one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in British legal history. Hundreds of innocent sub-postmasters and postmistresses were wrongly accused of theft, fraud and false accounting due to a defective IT system. Many of the wronged workers were prosecuted, some of whom were imprisoned for crimes they never committed, and their lives were irreparably ruined by the scandal."
The drama itself is being directed by Broadchurch's James Strong and will also "follow the landmark Court of Appeal decision to overturn their criminal convictions".
Mr Bates vs the Post Office premieres on ITV1 and ITVX on Monday 1st January 2024.
32. The King's Speech
As already mentioned, King Charles III has now served as monarch for over a year and this will be his second King's Speech since the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II in 2022.
2023 has seen The King be crowned in Westminster Abbey alongside his consort, Queen Camilla, in the presence of the rest of the Royal Family, including his sons William, Prince of Wales and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex.
Given the economic difficulties in the UK and various foreign policy and environmental issues being hot topics, we are sure The King will try to address these and also send out some warming Christmas meetings.
The King's Speech will air at 3pm on Christmas Day on BBC One, ITV1, BBC News, Sky News, and on accompanying streaming services.