Britain’s dream Christmas Day TV schedule revealed

The sweetness of The Snowman, the shocks of EastEnders, and a super Strictly festive special all feature in your ultimate Christmas Day TV – but what about Morecambe & Wise?

Radio Times Christmas cover crop

From Morecambe & Wise to Only Fools and Horses, Britain has a brilliant tradition of Christmas Day TV – but according to a new poll on, our modern Christmas Day line-up isn’t too shabby either.


Over 10,000 people responded to a call asking for people to pick their favourite Christmas TV specials, choosing everything from a comedy to a Christmas film to create the ultimate Christmas Day TV schedule.

Looking down the listings it’s clear that modern shows such as Strictly Come Dancing and recent Agatha Christie adaptations have firmly established themselves in the festive TV schedules – but there’s still room for an old school shocking soap storyline too…

Click the image below to see the full Christmas schedule, and read on below to find out more about the results.

Kicking off the day, of course, is the Queen’s Christmas speech at 3pm, followed by classic Christmas story The Snowman, which beat Wallace and Gromit as the nation’s favourite Christmas animation.

The Snowman

The best Christmas movie according to readers is The Muppets Christmas Carol, ahead of Die Hard and It’s A Wonderful Life.

Next up is the modern tradition of the Doctor Who Christmas special – 2005 instalment The Christmas Invasion was named the favourite festive Who episode.

With the Queen’s Speech a permanent fixture of the Christmas Day TV schedules, readers were asked to vote for their favourite Alternative Christmas Message which has been broadcast on C4 every year since 1993. Last year’s poignant message by Brendan Cox, urging for tolerance and paying tribute to his murdered wife Jo, topped the vote.

The best family entertainment was Strictly Come Dancing, a surprise winner against Christmas heavyweight the Morecambe & Wise Christmas Show.

Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special 2017 - Craig Revel Horwood, Darcey Bussell, Shirley Ballas and Bruno Tonioli

EastEnders was voted the nation’s favourite Christmas soap, with Den and Angie’s notorious 1986 episode and Max and Stacey’s affair reveal from 2007 topping the list.

The best Christmas comedy special is Gavin & Stacey‘s 2008 family get together, followed by Blackadder’s Christmas Carol in second and The Vicar of Dibley’s Christmas Lunch Incident from 1996 in third.

Gavin and Stacey Christmas special

Finally, viewers have clearly fallen for the recent Agatha Christie adaptations on the BBC, with 2015 BBC drama And Then There Were None starring Aidan Turner, Sam Neill, Miranda Richardson and Charles Dance named the best Christmas Day drama ahead of Call the Midwife in second and Downton Abbey in third.

Check out the full results below.

Favourite Christmas TV specials

Soap Top 5

  1. EastEnders: Max and Stacey’s Affair Reveal (2007) 31.33%
  2. EastEnders: Den and Angie’s divorce (1986) 16.05%
  3. EastEnders: Archie Mitchell dies (2009) 9.64%
  4. EastEnders: Kat and Alfie’s Wedding (2003) 9.35%
  5. Coronation Street: Hilda’s farewell (1987) 6.22%

Animation Top 5

  1. The Snowman
  2. Wallace & Gromit: The Wrong Trousers
  3. Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of The Were Rabbit
  4. Wallace & Gromit: A Grand Day Out
  5. Ethel and Ernest

Drama Top 5

  1. And Then There Were None (2015)               
  2. Call The Midwife – Shelagh & Doctor Turner’s wedding (2013)
  3. Downton Abbey – Christmas at Downton Abbey (2011)
  4. Downton Abbey – The Finale (2015)
  5. Call The Midwife – (2015)

Comedy Top 5

  1. Gavin & Stacey Christmas Special (2008)
  2. Blackadder’s Christmas Carol (1988)
  3. Vicar of Dibley The Christmas Lunch Incident (1996)
  4. Only Fools and Horses Heroes and Villains (1996)
  5. Only Fools and Horses The Jolly Boys’ Outing (1989)

Family Entertainment Top 5

  1. Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special      
  2. Morcambe and Wise – Eric & Ernie’s Christmas Show (1977)
  3. The Great Christmas Bake Off
  4. The Two Ronnies Christmas Special (1987)
  5. Christmas University Challenge

Christmas Film Top 5

  1. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
  2. Die Hard (1988)
  3. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
  4. Elf (2003)
  5. Love Actually (2003)

Channel 4’s Alternative Christmas Message Top 5

  1. Brendan Cox, widower of Jo Cox (2016)       
  2. Marge and Lisa Simpson (2004)
  3. Adam Hills (2012)
  4. The midwives from One Born Every Minute (2010)
  5. Sacha Baron Cohen as Ali G (1999)

Doctor Who Top 5

  1. The Christmas Invasion (2005)
  2. A Christmas Carol (2010)
  3. Voyage of the Damned (2007)
  4. The Runaway Bride (2006)
  5. The Husbands of River Song (2015)